Friday, 9 November 2012

Windows 8 on a pen drive

We’re sure many of you are eagerly waiting to try out the new Windows 8 Preview to get a glimpse of what Microsoft has in store for you with their new operating system. However, installing Windows 8 on your PC, which probably has Windows 7 or Windows XP already installed, can be quite a task — backing up data, burning the OS onto a disk or a USB drive, clearing up space for the new OS and re-installing may seem enough for some to simply give up and wait for the full release. But don’t lose hope yet; we’ll show you how you can relax and enjoy Windows 8 on your existing PC without having to jump through any of the hoops involved in a fresh install, and run the new operating system in less than half the time.
                       All you need for installing Windows 8 on a USB drive is a 16 GB or higher USB drive, the Windows 8 ISO file, WinRAR archiver and your existing PC. You’ll also need to download a simple utility to go ahead with the process. Before we begin, we would like you to know that while using a USB pen drive will suffice, the speed of a regular USB pen drive is very slow and we recommend using an external USB storage drive.
                       To begin with, assuming you have a PC that already has Windows 7 running and WinRAR installed, extract the file ‘install.wim’ from the Windows 8 ISO fi le using WinRAR. This file will be located under the folder ‘Sources’ and is around 2 GB in size. Extract it to the desktop. Now go ahead and download a tiny 500 KB utility called ‘GimageX’ from ‘’ and extract the file to a folder on your desktop. This folder will have both the 32-bit and 64-bit utilities. Choose the appropriate one depending on the operating system you are running on your PC. Before we use the utility though, we have to prepare the USB drive for installing Windows 8. Make sure you have all your data backed up from the drive as we will need to clean out the drive completely. Proceed when ready.
                           Plug the USB drive in, wait for a while if the drivers are not yet installed and let the system recognize the new drive. Now start the Windows command prompt and type the following commands one after the other as given below:
DISKPART (This built-in utility will help re-partition and format the new drive)
LIST DISK (This command will list all the drives present on your system. Note down the drive number of your USB drive. You can see the sizes of the drives, so use that to identify your drive.)
SELECT DISK # (Replace the # with the drive number that represents your USB drive in the list)
CLEAN (This command will wipe the entire partition table of the USB drive)
CREATE PARTITION PRIMARY (This command will create a primary partition on the USB drive)
SELECT PARTITION 1 (This command will select the primary partition for the rest of the process)
FORMAT FS=NTFS QUICK (This command will quick format the primary partition in NTFS file format)
 ASSIGN (This command will assign a drive letter to the new partition for Windows to work on)
ACTIVE (This command will make the partition active to enable booting)
EXIT(Closes the DISKPART utility)
                Now that the drive is ready, start the GimageX utility and click on the tab ‘apply’. In the source field, browse and select the ‘INSTALL.WIM’ file you extracted from the Windows ISO file. In the destination fi eld, select the USB drive that you just prepared. Let all the settings in the remaining fields remain untouched and hit the ‘Apply’ button. GimageX will now extract the contents of the Install.wim file. This file contains necessary Windows 8 folders and system files on the USB drive.
Note: This procedure should take a few minutes and will depend on the speed of your USB drive. If you are using a regular pen drive, the time taken will be longer than on any 2.5-inch external USB storage drive. Once done, GimageX will let you know that the process is complete. Exit the utility and start the command prompt again. We now need to make the USB drive bootable in order to run Windows 8 from the USB drive; we will have to enter a command from the command prompt window. Run the following command:
Bootsect f:\windows /s f:
In the command above, ‘F:\’ is the drive letter of the USB drive where the Windows 8 files have been extracted to. Remember to replace this with the drive letter of your USB drive. This command will take a few seconds to transfer the necessary booting files to the USB drive. Once done, you can exit the command prompt.
             That’s it! Shut down your PC, get into the BIOS, enable booting from the USB drive and restart the PC. Your PC will now boot from the USB drive directly into Windows 8. All you need to do now is type in the serial key and other details such as username and passwords. Windows will be up and running in no time and will install the necessary drivers in the background. You can now go ahead and configure Windows 8 as you wish and install software and applications as you would on a new PC. All software and applications will be installed on the USB drive by default unless a different path is specified. Make sure you have an Internet connection set up for your PC if you are using your Microsoft Live (Hotmail) account to link with your Windows 8 installation. Once done, you can simply shut down, disconnect your USB drive and get back to your older operating system without any trace of Windows 8 on your PC. You can even plug this USB drive on any other PC and have Windows 8 running on that PC with your settings and applications.
          You can also use this trick to install Windows 8 on an internal hard drive and have Windows 8 installed without having to go through the entire process of installing the OS using a DVD ROM.


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