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  1. #1
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    Can I clone a hard drive to a USB thumb drive?

    For years I've used Acronis True Image Home (TIH 2011 worked up to Win7) and found it excellent, though the interface can be confusing. Now I find that it won't install on my 8.1 machine, so I'm going to try Macrium Reflect. Nice that they let us have it for free, but it galls me that the only way you can join their forum is to register a paid product.

    The question is: can I clone a hard drive to a USB thumb drive? I know I can boot into Linux on one, but I've been told that Windows won't boot from a thumb drive. True or urban legend?

    Has anyone tried this? Are there any secrets or tips that I need to know to do this?

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  2. #2
    Super Moderator CLiNT's Avatar
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    It should be possible but why would you want to?

    USB thumb drives are slow, You're better off with a USB 3.0 external drive.
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  3. #3
    2 Star Lounger
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    Well, I've got a large capacity thumb drive and I don't have a USB 3 to SATA adapter. But you're right, it would probably be faster to use a USB 2 adapter, which I already have. And when I find the faster USB 3 adapter (probably on eBay), that's what I'll use.

  4. #4
    WS Lounge VIP Calimanco's Avatar
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    Just a reminder that, if you are using a USB3 adapter, your thumb drive must also be USB3 compliant, otherwise it will still work at USB2 speeds. As for booting from the thumb drive, I've done it from a cloned external hard drive, so booting from a thumb drive should be possible, assuming that your bios will allow you to select it as the boot drive. Even using USB3, the OS will probably be so slow as to be almost unusable however.

  5. #5
    Super Moderator RetiredGeek's Avatar
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    Hey Y'all,

    Yes you can definitely boot from a USB thumb drive I do it all the time. However, I prefer to use USB HD's that are partitioned to have a boot partition for the Macrium Software and a Data partition for the images. You can create a Macrium Reflect Win PE boot media on a USB td as your rescue media and it boots just fine. MS also offers the Windows Defender Offline Beta as a td bootable option. However, with that you need to turn off Secure Boot, if you have that, where the Macrium disk is smart enough to boot in that mode! You'd think MS could do the same?

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  6. #6
    5 Star Lounger RussB's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Calimanco View Post
    Just a reminder that, if you are using a USB3 adapter, your thumb drive must also be USB3 compliant, otherwise it will still work at USB2 speeds. As for booting from the thumb drive, I've done it from a cloned external hard drive, so booting from a thumb drive should be possible, assuming that your bios will allow you to select it as the boot drive. Even using USB3, the OS will probably be so slow as to be almost unusable however.
    Yes, unless you use DOS on the USB3 drive, that works quite well for real old apps.
    Now if I can only locate ansi.sys that will run on FreeDOS....
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  7. #7
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    It's not true that Windows won't boot from a thumb drive. It is however true that it's not easy to do so, and that's by design.

    When you use any of the "Create Recovery Disk" options in Windows, you essentially create a bootable Windows system. The problem with those is, they are single-purpose systems. They aren't a general-purpose operating system image and they frequently don't have any GUI at all.

    The general purpose OS variation you want is called Windows To Go. There's a catch though! The catch is, you can only access Windows To Go if you have the Enterprise version of Windows, and that license is only available to businesses, typically large businesses. Home users never get the Enterprise license.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by RussB View Post
    Now if I can only locate ansi.sys that will run on FreeDOS....
    Any ideas/clues as to which version you need? I still have some MS-DOS disks.

    Some pages that may have help:
    https://duckduckgo.com/?q=ansi.sys&ia=about

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