Windows To Go is a fantastic feature introduced with Windows 8 operating system to enable users install and carry Windows 8 on a USB drive. Officially available in Windows 8/8.1 Enterprise edition, it requires a minimum of 32GB mass storage device such as USB flash drive in order to prepare your Windows To Go drive.
Those of you who have been following IntoWindows for a long time would know that we had covered how to install Windows 7 on an external hard drive back in 2010, one year before the release of Windows 8 Developer Preview. The method works flawlessly even today on almost all flash drives out there, but requires you download WAIK (Windows Automated Installation Kit) and install the same on your PC.
PC users who find the idea of carrying Windows operating system on a USB drive interesting but haven’t upgraded to Windows 8/8.1 yet to take the advantage of Windows To Go feature might want to install Windows 7 on a USB drive and run the operating system from the USB drive.
As we mentioned earlier, our guide how to install Windows 7 on a USB drive requires you download WAIK from Microsoft of size ~1.7 GB. So, for users who would like to create Windows To Go Windows 7 drive without having to download and install the WAIK, VHD W7 Compact is the ideal software.
VHD W7 Compact is a free tool designed to help you install Windows 7 on a USB flash drive. This free Windows To Go Creator for Windows 7 sports an easy-to-use interface, and even starters can use it without any problems.
In order to create your own Windows To Go or portable Windows 7 drive, you need to first install Windows 7 in a VHD. It could be done using free virtualization software such as VirtualBox (see how to install Windows 7 in VirtualBox).
Once you have the Windows 7 VHD, download and launch VHD W7 Compact tool from the download link provided at the end of this article, select the source as your newly created Windows 7 VHD, select the target boot drive as your NTFS or FAT32 formatted USB drive (16GB or above), select the drive where Windows 7 VHD file created as your target system drive (must be NTFS), select the VHD size, and click Go button to begin creating your first Windows 7 To Go drive.
For novice users who need a little more help, the developer has provided detailed instructions on the download page. We recommend you test drive this Windows 7 To Go drive on a secondary PC before using it on your primary PC.
And if you don’t mind downloading the WAIK, we encourage you try out our previously covered how to install Windows 7 on an external hard drive guide.