Run Windows 8 From External Disk with VHD (Virtual Hard Disk)

Windows 8 is finally reached to our PCs, as final version has been outed back in October. The latest operating system in Microsoft Windows series, has got the mixed feedback across their users. According to the views of some users, Microsoft Windows 8 is good for Phones, and touch screen devices such as Tablets. The reason is obviously strong, as Microsoft engineers have decided to remove the start button, and replaced it with that (boring) Metro UI. Well, i would like to come back to the topic, for that i have decided a tutorial for you ‘our beloved readers’.

Recently we wrote about outstanding features of Windows 8, and also a tutorial was compelled in which steps of changing the size of Windows 8 Borders were mentioned. In addition of that i also showed you process to install Windows 8 from USB on any Tablet, Laptop, and PCs. Today, this tutorial is also somewhat similar, but in this guide, i will be discussing about process to install and run Windows 8 from an External Hard Disk Drive. You might wonder, why you would install Windows 8 into external disk, when you can install same in your local disk? Let me tell you the fact. Sometimes, you want to test Windows 8 pro from an external disk, without even touching the OS installed in your HDD. If you decide to do so, then you will able to boot the Windows 8 OS directly from that disk when you just connect it to the notebook. Suppose, you disconnect the disk from your notebook or computer, then you will able to use your PC normally as you were using.

For this process, we have here compelled the tutorial for you, in which you can run and install Windows 8 directly from an external hard disk, for that i am using VHD (Virtual Hard Disk) which i think as best method. This is always can considered as best way, if you want to test the OS without needing an additional PC just to test the Windows 8. Well, there are many ways to achieve this and it is not easy to tell which way is best, but i  believe VHD way is best and easy and safest way to try.

Procedure to Run Windows 8 from External Hard Disk

What’s Required? Please check in:

  1. External Hard Disk minimum of 40GB storage capacity
  2. A 8GB pendrive, along with Windows 8 Pro DVD or ISO image which is needed to make Pen Drive bootable.
  3. You will need to create the VHD disk.
  4. Backup your data before you proceed.
Part 1: Creating VHD
Step 1: Download Windows 7 USB/DVD Download Tool from this link and install it and create the bootable pen drive.
Step 2: Now open the Computer Management and then select Storage and select Disk Management. You should see all the disks here in your computer.
Step 3: From the drives showing, you need to select the disk which is External Disk. After selecting that go to ‘more action’ option and then select ‘create a VHD’.
Step 4: Now, in next screen you will need to select the option to save the vhd disk and select the name of vhd disk and choose the appropriate name.
Step 5: Now, just close the Computer Management and then re open it, this would Initialize the VHD (Virtual Disk.
Step 6: Next, just right click on the drive and then unallocated space>new simple volume.
Step 7: The wizard would start and then just select ‘next’
Step 8: Now, just assign the letter and again click next. After that click on Finish and this will create vhd disk. It was easy right?
Now, you will just need to remember the drive letter you used for vhd disk before proceeding with the next final steps.
Part 2: Installation Steps
Step 1:  Now, plug-in the USB drive and then restart the computer.
Step 2: From the boot menu configure it to boot from USB Drive and then run the Windows 8 Pro Installer.
Step 3: Select the option ‘Install now’ and when you reach to the page where hard drive should be selected, stay with that page and you won’t need to select any disk there, instead press the combination of SHIFT+F10 which will open a console just because we want to attach our VHD which wee created in last part.
Step 4: When CMD window opens up, then just type DISKPART and attach the VHD with following commands:

DISKPART> select vdisk file=h:\VMs\Win8.vhd
DISKPART> attach vdisk

P.S. In my case VHD drive letter was you just have to decide where you saved the VHD in first part. If you’re interested to find the drive letter of your VHD, then just type “CD x:” and X stands for drive letter which you can try for multiple letters.

Step 5: ALT+TAB to see the list of disks and then Refresh. Now you must see the VHD. Just select it and click next. Please note that installation will give you warning that VHD can’t be booted, but ignore that and go ahead with the process. After selecting that VHD, the Windows should be installed. Same Personalize, Wireless Settings and Sign in Window should show there.

Part 3: Things to take  care (Recommended)

In rear cases, Window might not end with successful boot when external disk would be disconnected. You will obviously want to avoid this i have possible solution to resolve same problem. Here is how it goes:

Step 1: Firstly, Boot into the Windows 7 and then run msconfig

Step 2: In the Boot tab you must see the following codes:

Windows 8 Default OS

Windows 7 Current OS

Just select Windows 7 and press to make it default then following should be displayed:

Windows 8

Windows 7 Current OS, Default OS

With the above solution, you won’t need to connect every time the external hard disk, whenever you want to boot only Windows 7. Now, you can use Windows 7 normally even when external disk is not connected, as Windows 7 boot loader would work to boot correctly in this condition. I hope tutorial was useful for you, if you have any comments or queries, then do not hesitate to comment at the below form, we’ll try to address as quickly as possible.

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