How to create a running copy of Windows on USB Flash Drives
FlashBoot is a free and commercial software program for Microsoft Windows devices that, among many other things, can be used to create a self-contained running copy of Windows on a USB Flash Drive.
The free version supports other features besides that: you may use it to create an installation version of Windows 7, 8.1 or Windows 10 on a USB drive, install DOS or UEFI on a USb drive, or perform various commands on the drive such as quick format or secure erase.
The paid version adds other interesting features, e.g. an option to copy the active Windows installation to the USB drive (a clone) that you may run from the drive afterward.
Note that you do need an ISO image of the operating system that you want to install on the USB drive. You may use third-party programs such as UUP Dump Downloader.
The program displays the following startscreen when you load it after installation.
The two main options are listed at the top; you may use them to create an installation USB Flash drive to install Windows from USB instead of DVD, and to install a full version of Windows on an USB Flash drive that runs independently.
The two other options let you erase content on USB Flash drives, save existing content to another storage location, or restore content.
Select Full OS > USB to get started. The next screen displays all free and paid options.
Free users of the software program are limited to creating self-contained DOS, UEFI Shell, Windows 8, Windows 8.1, or Windows 10 installations (the latter two for BIOS- or UEFI-based computers).
Commercial users may select the current version of Windows as well to clone it to the USB drive.
Once you have made a selection you are asked to select an ISO or ESD image, or insert a CD or DVD disc with a Windows image as it is used as the source for the installation.
You are asked to select an edition of Windows that is available on the image or on disc that you want to install on the USB Flash drive, the USB drive you want to use as the target for the installation, and to select a volume label (optional).
FlashBoot displays a summary afterward. Click on the format now button to start the process; note that data that is on the drive is erased during the process.
FlashBoot starts the process and displays a log in the interface. The process may take a while to complete; it depends on the selected version of Windows and the USB drive.
You can boot from the USB Flash Drive once the process completes and run Windows from it. It is recommended that you use fast Flash drives for it as you may experience slow loading and caching otherwise.
You need to set up the operating system when you run it for the first time. The commercial version may be more useful in this regard as you may use it to clone an existing Windows installation.
FlashBoot is a useful program for Microsoft Windows that you may use to create bootable Windows installations on USB Flash drives.