In the last post I covered some of the basics of Windows To Go, now it’s time to jump in a little deeper…
Creating A Windows To Go Disk
Even though you can script the creation of Windows To Go drives, today I will just focus on using the inbuilt UI in Windows 8.1 Enterprise to deliver this. If you need to provision several drives at once, scripting will be your best option as you could have multiple drives plugged into a USB 3.0 hub, but to begin with, let’s start with a single drive.
From the Start Screen we can just type in Windows To Go and we get presented with two relevant option, Windows To Go, which is what we want, and Change Windows To Go Startup Options, which I will cover later in the post.
With a supported Kingston Data Traveller inserted, I now need to point to the appropriate source location.
Just browse to the location where you either have the install.wim files extracted, or to the mounted ISO.
In this case I’ve got the 32 and 64 bit wim files in a directory on my laptop, so I can just select that.
You will note that I chose a file naming scheme that made it easy for me to select the right image, and for the sake of speed I’ll just choose the 32 bit option.
Because this drive may be used in multiple devices with or without a TPM, you have the option of applying a BitLocker password which will be requested when you boot from the drive. Enabling BitLocker doesn’t have much of an impact on the time it takes to build the drive if your CPU is up to the task, but an older, slower CPU without hardware AES support could be impacted by this. Sounds like I need to pull a netbook out of deep freeze to test this out.
A quick warning about all content of the drive being wiped, so it’s worth double checking the drive again if you aren’t sure.
The amount of time this takes varies depending on the size of the WIM file that is being copied, as well as the speed of your USB device.
You also get the option of restarting your PC and booting from Windows To Go, which you can do if this is the PC that you want to test the drive on.
Booting from Windows To Go by default
While you can set your PC to boot from a USB drive via BIOS or UEFI settings, you can also set the option within Windows.
Using Windows Search, just search on Windows To Go startup and launch the application.
Here you see that it’s really just a yes/no option, so it’s easy enough to select the right option.
Dude Where’s My Drive?
One of the things you will notice is that Windows To Go devices hide their partitions from a running Windows installation.
If you go to Disk Management you will see the layout of the drive, and if you want to assign a drive letter to browse the contents you can do that.
Here we can see the two partitions that were created. In the interest of saving space, Windows To Go doesn’t create a recovery partition due to drive space concerns.
It’s easy enough to add a drive letter, just right mouse click on the larger partition and select Change Drive Letters And Path.
Select the drive letter you want to assign.
Now we can jump back into Explorer and see the BitLocker encrypted drive.
Before I can browse the drive I need to enter the BitLocker password.
Once in, you can see that this looks like a normal Windows installation.
Next up – Even More Windows To Go, in which i will cover a few areas I’ve skimmed over, including creating multiple drives at the same time, and a comparison of Windows To Go and Windows 8.1 Enterprise from a features and functionality perspective.