Solved Can I install Vista on portable hard drive?


Vista Pro
In a word, the answer is no.
The ability to run a live Windows system on a USB device was a new feature in Windows 8 Enterprise called Windows To Go.
It is possible, with some effort, to create a Windows To Go workspace with any edition of Windows 8.
Other Windows versions (Vista, 7) are not portable because of how drivers are handled.
In the past, Windows had always considered USB devices as "input devices" and not suitable for use as a system drive.

I also own an older Mac (Intel) computer. Interestingly, I can run the Mac from a system loaded on an external drive, either USB or Firewire, no problems at all, in fact several systems on multiple partitions. Speed is a little pokey but acceptable.

Why not just get a new HDD?

My Computer


Power User
Can I install Vista on portable hard drive?


Microsoft never supported installing Vista on an external drive. It may be possible but it won't be easy. This is more of a stunt than a practical option.

My Computer


Vista Guru
Gold Member
I agree, No not really a viable option
That is not the way to fix your problem.
Get a copy of Macrium Reflect and make an image of your system and store it on another drive, it can be your usb drive
Burn a Macrium boot disc.
Replace the failing drive
Boot the computer with the Macrium boot disc
Reload the image you made and you have your computer back as it was
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My Computer

System One

  • Manufacturer/Model
    Lenovo Thinkpad T400
    Intel Mobile Core 2 Duo P8700 @ 2.53GHz
    LENOVO 64734VM
    2.00GB Single-Channel DDR3 @ 531MHz
    Graphics Card(s)
    Intel Mobile Intel 4 Series Express Chipset Family
    Sound Card
    Conexant 20561 SmartAudio HD
    Monitor(s) Displays
    15 inch
    Screen Resolution
    1280 x 800
    Hard Drives
    1x 180GB Intel 530 series SSD
    1 x 120GB Hitachi 5400rmp
    1 x 650GB Western Digital Elements 5400rpm
    1x 1Tb Western Digital Elements 5400rpm
    Internet Speed
    Medium for New Zealand
    Other Info
    Weakest part of my computer is the graphics chipset.
    Only ever used a laptop.
    Also use USB Freeview TV Card
    Lenovo Docking Station
    External Speakers
    Other bits a pieces as needed
Thanks for the replies

I guess I won't be doing that then haha, my Vista installation is old (it came with the laptop when I bought it new) and has never been reinstalled since then but I have a Vista ISO from another thread here so I might just attempt that before looking for a new internal hard drive.

My Computer