Windows To Go Step by Step – Run Windows 8 From a USB Flash Drive

Windows To Go is a new feature from Windows 8 that enables us to running full Windows 8 straight from a USB flash drive. Windows To Go gets access to all host PC’s hardware, processor, memory, etc – but not its hard disk drives because internal hard disk on host computer are offline by default when booted into a USB flash drive contains Windows To Go, and vice versa, if a Windows To Go USB flash drive is inserted into a running system the USB flash drive will not be listed in Windows Explorer. Microsoft designed this to ensure that sensitive data is not accidentally copied to the local (internal) hard disk drives.

To create a Windows To Go there’s a few things we need:

  • A 20GB or larger USB 3.0 USB storage device such as USB flash drive, external USB hard drive, etc. (You can use USB 2.0, but I recommend 3.0 for performance reason)
  • A Windows 8 DVD or ISO
  • A computer with Windows 8 or Windows 7

In this post, I will explain how to create a bootable USB flash drive which able to runs Windows 8 straight from USB drive in very detailed steps with lots of screenshots.

  1. First you need a command-line tool called ImageX. This app distributed as part of Windows AIK (Automated Installation Kit). Download Windows AIK (KB3AIK_EN.iso 1.7GB):

    once download completed mount the ISO file, right click on it, select Mount
    Note: Windows 7 users, you can use Winrar to extract ISO file

    mount the Windows AIK ISO file

  2. Double click StartDC.exe

    double click StartCD

  3. Click Windows AIK Setup to install

    Click Windows AIK Setup

  4. If you are running a 64-bit Windows 8, navigate to
    C:\Program Files\Windows AIK\Tools\amd64
    If you are running a 32-bit Windows 8, navigate to
    C:\Program Files\Windows AIK\Tools\x86
    right click on imagex.exe, select Copy

    locate imagex.exe

  5. Copy – Paste imagex.exe to the root of C:\

    Copy imagex.exe to drive C

  6. Hit Win Key+X then select Command Prompt (Admin) CMD (Command Prompt) with administrator privilege.
    Note: Windows 7 users click here

    ctrl X command prompt admin

  7. Type diskpart and hit Enter

    cmd diskpart

  8. Type list diskand hit Enter

    cmd diskpart list disk

  9. Type select disk 7 (replace 7 with your USB Flash drive number) and hit Enter

    cmd diskpart select disk

  10. Type clean and hit Enter

    cmd diskpart clean

  11. Type create partition primary and hit Enter

    cmd diskpart create partition primary

  12. Type select partition 1 and hit Enter

    cmd diskpart select partition 1

  13. Type active and hit Enter

    cmd diskpart active

  14. Type format fs=ntfs quick and hit Enter

    cmd diskpart format fs ntfs quick

  15. Type assign and hit Enter

    cmd diskpart assign

  16. Navigate to Windows 8 ISO and mount it or insert your Windows 8 DVD
    Note: Windows 7 users, you can use Virtual DVD Drive to mount Windows 8 ISO

    mount win8 iso

  17. Now type exit and hit Enter to leave DiskPart but keep the cmd window open.
    Then type C:\imagex.exe /apply M:\sources\install.wim 1 S:\ and hit Enter
    Note: Replace M with your DVD drive letter and the S for the drive letter of your USB Flash Drive.

    cmd diskpart imagex apply

  18. This process will take some time, please be patient…

    imagex applying progress

  19. Now configure the boot record, type bcdboot.exe S:\windows /s S: /f all
    (Note: Replace S with your USB Flash drive letter) and hit Enter to finalize.
    Note: Windows 7 users, type bcdboot.exe S:\windows /s S: and hit Enter

    cmd bcdboot
    Now you have a Windows To Go. If you want to use it please make sure you set the USB flash drive as the first boot option in the BIOS. The first start-up will take a bit some time because Windows To Go will install all the drivers it needs.

windows 8 start screen

  • Dave


  • Peter

    Thanks. Great Help. Good instructions.