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Windows To Go


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I've been intrigued by Windows To Go feature of Windows 8 (found in the Enterprise Edition) but haven't been able to find an affordable and biggable USB flash drive that met the hardware requirements. That is until today. I purchased a 64GB Sandisk Extreme USB 3.0 UFD last week for work with the intent of turning it into a bootable WinPE drive with Ghost so I could quickly image machines that had no network access or slow access to my normal Ghost Server. Well I was pretty unhappy when the Makewinpemedia script in the Windows 8 Application Deployment Kit could not format the drive. Why? It is coded to use FAT32, which in Windows Vista and up has an arbitrary limit of only being able to format partitions up to 32GB. I'm sure I could tweak the script but I'm lazy.


Anyways, as I was examining the new UFD's properties with diskpart I noticed the drive was listed as having a partition of type=partition rather than type=removable. As soon as I saw that I realized I had a Win-2-Go compatible drive. I ran the Win-2-Go wizard and rebooted the drive on another computer. Man, was it fast. It booted in about 15 seconds from disk selection to lock screen. And you know what? It was fast. Almost as fast as an SSD courtesy of the USB 3.0 interface. And it was portable. I booted it on two different hardware platforms (both Core i5 but with different Intel chipsets.)


I'm looking forward to Windows 8.1 and making another Win-2-Go disk. :)

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My understanding is that USB 3.0 flash drives marketed for Windows to Go compatibility are actually different than "stock" USB flash drives of the same capacity. I'm not sure exactly what all of the technical differences are, but wear leveling for the flash RAM used is one (which implies an improved controller--perhaps even an embedded USB 3.0 to SATA controller) and given the read and write speeds claimed by the manufacturers they must constructed using multiple flash RAM dies in order to achieve those speeds.




Aryeh Goretsky

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That's the theory as I understand it too. I'm not sure what the specifics of this Sandisk UFD is but it is compatible though not necessarily supported. I'm hoping it will last awhile. :)

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I demonstrated this drive this afternoon to a faculty member and we timed it to 8 seconds to the lock screen. That was pretty fast. It actually ran quite fast on a USB 2.0 port on another computer as well.

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