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#1 +warwagon

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Posted 24 October 2010 - 07:28

How install all versions of Vista / 7 / 8 from a single USB hard drive


*update* 11/15/2012.



While this method still works great it does require an earlier version of EasyBCD. I recently tried this method and was having ZERO luck. As it turns out newer versions of EasyBCD won't let you add an entry to the boot list, if it's on a drive / partition other than where the boot menu is located, at least not a WIM file. Older versions don't care. You can find the older version in a link below.




http://www.oldversio...ad.php?sid=4246 (EasyBCD 2.0.2)


I recently had a spare 250 gig 2.5 external hard drive lying around my shop. I wanted to put it to use but I couldn’t really think of anything to use it for.

Then I thought, hmmm I wonder if it would be possible to put all the setup files for Vista 32/64 and 7 32/64 all onto the same external hard drive and install windows from that. I’ve installed all of those operating systems off an usb key at one time or another, but I would either loose the sticks or the labels would rub off and I would never be sure which usb key had which OS on it. So I would always revert back to using individual cd / dvds.

Then I thought, wouldn’t it be nice if I had 1 hard drive that when booted would give me an option as to which Operating system I wanted to install?

I knew I’d probably have to use some kind of Boot loader software. The first one that came to mind was EasyBCD. It was also free, so that was nice.

*Warning, content Beyond this point may make you wet yourself.*

The instructions in this guide pertain to Windows Vista, Windows 7 and Windows 8 only. Windows XP is not very USB friendly. I was able to install XP off a usb stick once upon a time, but the speed was so slow, a CD would have been faster. So for this guide we will only be focusing on Windows Vista/7/8.

The first thing you need to do is get yourself an spare external hard drive. I recommend a USB hard drive instead of a large thumb drive because the transfer rates will generally be a lot better.

Next you have to partition your USB Hard drive. If you already know how to do this, then create a partition for each Windows Install you wish to put on the drive. Make each install partition 4 gigs using the NTFS file system. Also create a 20 gig Tools partition.

For everyone else follow these instructions.

First open up “Computer Management” You can find it in the control panel under Administrative tools / Computer management. Or just open up the run box (Windows key +R) and type compmgmt.msc and press enter.

Then click “Disk Management”

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This will show you all the hard drives / partitions on your system. When you select your external hard drive make SURE it’s your external hard drive. We don’t want you accidentally deleting and partitioning the wrong drive, because that would suck.

Once you find the external hard drive in the list, delete all the drives partitions. When finished you should have one giant area called “unpartitioned space”.

Now right click the unpartitioned space and left click “New Simple Volume”. Then follow the wizard. You want to make each setup Partition 4 gigs in size using the file system NTFS. Whatever is left I would leave as unpartitioned space. This way in the future you can return and make more setup partitions if you wish.

I’d also make 1 partition called “Tools” and make that quite large. I made mine 20 gigs. We will be using that partition later on.

So now that we have our drive sliced and diced just how we like it, it’s now time to put the setup files on their specified partition. The Vista and 7 iso’s don’t extract very well. So it’s easier to mount each ISO using daemon tools or something similar, and then copy each Window install cd to their designated partition.

*Note* To be able to choose from all the different win 7 versions during the install, search for and delete the file ei.cfg from your windows 7 partition for both 64 and 32bit versions

Now download and install Easybcd using the following URL.

http://neosmart.net/dl.php?id=1

Once installed open the application.

We will start by installing the BCD Boot manager to the external hard drive. To do this click the “Bootloader setup” from the left hand side. Then drop down “Partition” on the right hand side and select your

“tools” partition, and then click “Install BCD”. Once again make sure you've selected the partition of your external hard drive.

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After a few second it should be installed. Then it will ask you if you want to work on the Bootloader you just created. Choose yes.

Now click “Add New Entry”. You will be using these steps for each of the installs you wish to setup.

At the bottom on the “WinPE” tab the type should say "WIM Image (Ramdisk)"

Posted Image

For the name, type the Operating system you will be installing.

In the path field, click browse and navigate to the partition of the Windows install on your portable hard drive you wish to use. Now open the sources folder and double click on “boot.wim”. Then click “Add Entry”
Now just repeat that process for every Vista / 7 setup you wish to configure

It gets even better. On the bottom you will also see an “ISO” tab. Yep that’s right, it also lets you specify and boot from ISO images. Like BartPE, Memtest or even a Linux Live cd just to name a few. This is why I created a separate tools partition. I use this partition to put all my ISO images.

How cool is that?

Once you are finished, close the application and reboot your computer.

Now tell your computer to boot from the USB hard drive. If successful your new boot menu will appear and each of the Windows Install’s you configured should show up in the list as well as any ISO’s you’ve specified.

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Enjoy!.


#2 The Dark Knight

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Posted 24 October 2010 - 07:46

NICE!!! Posted Image

This is just what I need as I regularly setup computers for family, friends and relatives! Will try this out soon! Posted Image

#3 deep1234

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Posted 24 October 2010 - 08:56

Yes really nice :D.

I am just worried about viruses. if I am formatting a machine full of viruses or malwares, I need some protection so notthing comes from the machine to the harddisk.

#4 johncena001

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Posted 24 October 2010 - 09:25

This is an excellent guide, but I am having a problem.

Say if I wanted to have 4 Primary partitions, how do I do this? If I make any more than 2 Primary partitions, it joins into an Extended partition, and EasyBCD does not recognize this.

#5 OP +warwagon

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Posted 24 October 2010 - 16:00

Yes really nice :D.

I am just worried about viruses. if I am formatting a machine full of viruses or malwares, I need some protection so notthing comes from the machine to the harddisk.


Just don't plug in the drive until you are ready to format and outside of windows. If you boot from the external hard drive the virus can't crawl onto the drive.

#6 Panacik

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Posted 25 October 2010 - 13:57

Using grub4dos and chainloading in to the ISO directly, you could create a multi version 64bit and x86 all version Windows 7 and Windows Vista .ISO files and boot directly from the iso files themselves. Far more tidy and quite easy to configure, plus there is already a guide on how to do that...

http://www.neowin.ne...sb-flash-drive/

#7 OP +warwagon

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Posted 25 October 2010 - 18:13

Using grub4dos and chainloading in to the ISO directly, you could create a multi version 64bit and x86 all version Windows 7 and Windows Vista .ISO files and boot directly from the iso files themselves. Far more tidy and quite easy to configure, plus there is already a guide on how to do that...

http://www.neowin.ne...sb-flash-drive/


I'll have to mess with that. Using Easybcd and booting from the windows vista/7 iso booted but it wouldn't detect any drives and it was complaining about drivers.

#8 c.grz

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Posted 25 October 2010 - 18:20

Or, you could just "inject" all version of 7 and Vista into a single boot.wim

I was able to create two USB sticks...one with all NT 6.x Server operating systems in one wim file and another with all NT 6.x client operating systems in one wim file so it boots up just like a normal Windows 7 installer but has a large selection of OS's at the selection screen.

You can read up on doing that here:

http://www.msfn.org/...e-wim-question/

And seeing as I'm using a USB stick, I have a folder called Storage that has a bunch of drivers for RAID/SATA/AHCI controllers that I point the install to at the appropriate time.

#9 Panacik

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Posted 26 October 2010 - 19:31

Or, you could just "inject" all version of 7 and Vista into a single boot.wim

I was able to create two USB sticks...one with all NT 6.x Server operating systems in one wim file and another with all NT 6.x client operating systems in one wim file so it boots up just like a normal Windows 7 installer but has a large selection of OS's at the selection screen.

You can read up on doing that here:

http://www.msfn.org/...e-wim-question/

And seeing as I'm using a USB stick, I have a folder called Storage that has a bunch of drivers for RAID/SATA/AHCI controllers that I point the install to at the appropriate time.


Even better! 1 ISO to rule them all! :p

#10 Singh400

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Posted 26 October 2010 - 19:44

Or, you could just "inject" all version of 7 and Vista into a single boot.wim

I was able to create two USB sticks...one with all NT 6.x Server operating systems in one wim file and another with all NT 6.x client operating systems in one wim file so it boots up just like a normal Windows 7 installer but has a large selection of OS's at the selection screen.

You can read up on doing that here:

http://www.msfn.org/...e-wim-question/

And seeing as I'm using a USB stick, I have a folder called Storage that has a bunch of drivers for RAID/SATA/AHCI controllers that I point the install to at the appropriate time.

+1 to this method. Already done this. Incorporated all the editions of Windows 7 and Windows Vista x86 & x64. Works flawlessly all on one DVD.

#11 iFur

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Posted 31 January 2011 - 01:39

i want to ask before i try :)
i have external 500 gb usb harddisk

100 gb is free..
i will create a new partition will use EASEUS Partition Master (Home Edition) from the free space
make it 20gb or so ,. name it tools or so

install easybcd on it
put one windows 7 iso on it .. i only need that

my question now
will that work ?

i dont want to format the whole hard drive

#12 OP +warwagon

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Posted 16 November 2012 - 04:27

Updated the first post.

#13 TCA

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Posted 17 November 2012 - 05:56

very nice Tut war.

#14 Denis W.

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Posted 21 March 2013 - 03:51

Thanks for the guide Adam (Y)

Wanted to point out a few extra tips:

- With MBR you can only have up to four primary partitions - Disk Management will automatically create logical partitions beyond three primary partitions, and you can't install bootloaders to a logical partition (i.e. Tools). It might be a good idea to create the Tools partition as the first primary partition.
- Booting from ISOs didn't work when they were located on a different partition than the one with the bootloader.
- Don't try booting off Windows ISOs via EasyBCD. You'll hit a "missing driver" error in Windows Setup.
- EasyBCD 2.2 doesn't work as it refuses to accept a different drive for WIM files other than BOOT. While EasyBCD 2.0.2 will work, it doesn't boot say newer Ubuntu discs.

#15 OP +warwagon

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Posted 21 March 2013 - 21:51

Thanks for the guide Adam (Y)

Wanted to point out a few extra tips:

- With MBR you can only have up to four primary partitions - Disk Management will automatically create logical partitions beyond three primary partitions, and you can't install bootloaders to a logical partition (i.e. Tools). It might be a good idea to create the Tools partition as the first primary partition.
- Booting from ISOs didn't work when they were located on a different partition than the one with the bootloader.
- Don't try booting off Windows ISOs via EasyBCD. You'll hit a "missing driver" error in Windows Setup.
- EasyBCD 2.2 doesn't work as it refuses to accept a different drive for WIM files other than BOOT. While EasyBCD 2.0.2 will work, it doesn't boot say newer Ubuntu discs.


Thanks, I recently purchased the ISOstick http://isostick.com (should be here early next week) i'll be reviewing it when arrives. Should make all of this a lot easier.



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