Question Laptop no longer boots with drive moved to external enclosure

Nov 10, 2020
I am struggling to boot my laptop after upgrading the internal M.2 SSD. The external enclosure is recognized in the BIOS. When starting the laptop it attempts to boot but runs a loading animation and then goes to a blue screen saying it failed to boot and leads me through windows 10 restore options. I have tried connecting the external enclosure is into each USB port my laptop has and each returns the same result.

My original intent was to clone this drive to the upgraded one, then wipe the old drive to use as an external one once the new drive booted without issue. Within the BIOS the new M.2 is recognized and the external enclosure is shown as a bootable option but fails when selected. I'm not sure what is causing the issue at this point. Any guidance that allows me to move forward in getting my machine up and running again is greatly appreciated.


Jul 7, 2020
The general approach Ive used is to clone the SSD first as it's bootable. However, there is a solution. I'm not sure why the external drive is not booting, but you can try the following. There may be more direct ways that someone would advise. I have never run into your exact problem, so I'm doing some guessing here.

First make sure that secure boot is turned off in the BIOS. Maybe this is your boot problem, but it will likely need to be off for the next step anyway.

I know of no way to get your old Windows key without booting (reinstalling inside the laptop) from the old hard drive. Belarc Advisor or other tools can tell you your key, but they look in the registry which will need to be loaded from the original version of WIndows. Write it down

Go to the Microsoft site and download an installable Win10 (an .iso file). Use Rufus to create a bootable USB stick from this file. I've always had to play with the Rufus options to make this work. I should have written them down.While you still have the old drive installed, make sure you can boot from the USB (the Rufus options thing again) but DON'T let the install start.

With your external drive removed (not plugged into the machine) and the SSD reinstalled, boot from the USB.

When it asks for the Windows key, enter it.

I have seen issues with partition setup and such on a new drive. Hopefully the windows installer will deal with that.

Someone else may have a simpler way, but my method should work. Let me know what happens.
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