Help to boot with external drive, windows 7

#1
This is for a new laptop Sony Vaio VPCEB1LFX.

I want to boot entirely from my external drive only when it is hooked up on startup. Here is the BCD from the hidden "system" partition, it is also already marked as active:

Windows Boot Manager
--------------------
identifier {9dea862c-5cdd-4e70-acc1-f32b344d4795}
device partition=H:
description Windows Boot Manager
locale en-US
inherit {7ea2e1ac-2e61-4728-aaa3-896d9d0a9f0e}
default {30cc31ed-4742-11df-8cf8-544249069823}
resumeobject {30cc31ec-4742-11df-8cf8-544249069823}
displayorder {30cc31ed-4742-11df-8cf8-544249069823}
toolsdisplayorder {b2721d73-1db4-4c62-bf78-c548a880142d}
timeout 3
displaybootmenu No
Windows Boot Loader
-------------------
identifier {30cc31ed-4742-11df-8cf8-544249069823}
device partition=G:
path \Windows\system32\winload.exe
description Windows 7 (289GB)
locale en-US
inherit {6efb52bf-1766-41db-a6b3-0ee5eff72bd7}
recoverysequence {30cc31ee-4742-11df-8cf8-544249069823}
recoveryenabled Yes
osdevice partition=G:
systemroot \Windows
resumeobject {30cc31ec-4742-11df-8cf8-544249069823}
nx OptIn

This is setup with Easy BCD 2.0 while booted up through the internal drive. The partitions above are the drives as lettered booted up with the internal drive.

Can anyone tell my what is wrong, please?

The BCD of the internal drive is as follows:

Windows Boot Manager
--------------------
identifier {9dea862c-5cdd-4e70-acc1-f32b344d4795}
device partition=\Device\HarddiskVolume2
path \bootmgr
description Windows Boot Manager
locale en-US
default {63c6a0b4-5d6b-11df-8537-a71dcb0a518b}
displayorder {63c6a0b4-5d6b-11df-8537-a71dcb0a518b}
timeout 30
displaybootmenu No
Windows Boot Loader
-------------------
identifier {63c6a0b4-5d6b-11df-8537-a71dcb0a518b}
device partition=C:
path \Windows\system32\winload.exe
description Windows 7 Home Premium (SSD)
locale en-US
osdevice partition=C:
systemroot \Windows
resumeobject {e46231b8-5d55-11df-bff9-806e6f6e6963}
 

mqudsi

Mostly Harmless
Staff member
#3
XP used to be able to, but Microsoft has specifically disabled this for Windows Vista and 7 for copyright reasons.
 
#4
That would explain it then I guess. Next questions then:
  1. If I add an entry to the internal harddrive for the external drive, can I have it always use the internal for the active system drive but boot from the external preferentially only when it is plugged in?
  2. Is there an option to make a DVD boot that uses the external drive? I didn't see a way directly with Easybcd for this.


Addendum:

OK, number 1 at least sort of works, but if the external isn't plugged in then there is an error to start with and I have to hit enter and then select the internal drive to have it boot.

Is there a way to just get it to do it automatically? Any options need to be set for this?

Internal BCD file (with the external unhooked):

Windows Boot Manager
--------------------
identifier {9dea862c-5cdd-4e70-acc1-f32b344d4795}
device boot
path \bootmgr
description Windows Boot Manager
locale en-US
default {63c6a0b5-5d6b-11df-8537-a71dcb0a518b}
displayorder {63c6a0b4-5d6b-11df-8537-a71dcb0a518b}
{63c6a0b5-5d6b-11df-8537-a71dcb0a518b}
timeout 0
displaybootmenu No
Windows Boot Loader
-------------------
identifier {63c6a0b4-5d6b-11df-8537-a71dcb0a518b}
device partition=C:
path \Windows\system32\winload.exe
description Windows 7 Home Premium (SSD)
locale en-US
osdevice partition=C:
systemroot \Windows
resumeobject {e46231b8-5d55-11df-bff9-806e6f6e6963}
Windows Boot Loader
-------------------
identifier {63c6a0b5-5d6b-11df-8537-a71dcb0a518b}
device unknown
path \Windows\system32\winload.exe
description Windows 7 (289GB redirected)
locale en-US
osdevice unknown
systemroot \Windows
resumeobject {f299d051-5ee0-11df-ad95-806e6f6e6963}
 
Last edited:

mqudsi

Mostly Harmless
Staff member
#5
I don't understand?
 
#6
OK, some background then:

I just bought a new laptop, but there are no DVDas or CDs included with it, the way they do it now I guess. I also bought a new SSD drive (intel 80 GB) and installed it internally. Basically my original goal was to be able to use either drive independant of the other in case of any hardware failure down the road. Also if I wanted any kind of different environment for experimenting, etc. I could do it on the external drive and leave the internal fresh.

For instance a repair DVD has this bcd:
Windows Boot Manager
--------------------
identifier {9dea862c-5cdd-4e70-acc1-f32b344d4795}
description Windows Boot Manager
locale en-US
inherit {7ea2e1ac-2e61-4728-aaa3-896d9d0a9f0e}
default {7619dcc9-fafe-11d9-b411-000476eba25f}
displayorder {7619dcc9-fafe-11d9-b411-000476eba25f}
toolsdisplayorder {b2721d73-1db4-4c62-bf78-c548a880142d}
timeout 30
Windows Boot Loader
-------------------
identifier {7619dcc9-fafe-11d9-b411-000476eba25f}
device ramdisk=[boot]\sources\boot.wim,{7619dcc8-fafe-11d9-b411-000476eba25f}
path \windows\system32\boot\winload.exe
description Windows Setup
locale en-US
inherit {6efb52bf-1766-41db-a6b3-0ee5eff72bd7}
osdevice ramdisk=[boot]\sources\boot.wim,{7619dcc8-fafe-11d9-b411-000476eba25f}
systemroot \windows
detecthal Yes
winpe Yes
ems Yes

So question 2 would refer to using a bcd off the dvd, but the system off the external drive (esata), since windows isn't bootable normally from the dvd drive. So my question was if that is possible or not?

Question number 1 refers to using the bcd off the internal drive to the system on the external. This works, but if the external drive is unplugged and the system is booted without the external plugged in then I get the error about needing repair to the bcd, but i can hit enter to continue, then select the system of the internal drive, and then enter again to boot into the internal drive's system. This requires key presses though to boot into the internal hard drive's system. I assume there is no way to do this without getting the errors if the external drive isn't plugged in?
 
#7
Through sheer stubborness and trying multiple things I have determined that the laptop considers the esata drive an internal hard drive with respect to the boot order in the bios setup. If the physical internal drive has nothing on it then it will boot completely from the external esata hard drive. I have not yet tried actually having no physical internal hard drive at all yet.

Unconfigurable for the user as far as I know is the boot order for internal hard drives.
 
#8
The problems of installing Windows to an external drive are mainly concerning the usb bus not eSata which is an extension from an actual sata port on the main board itself and seen as an internal drive by the bios.

The external drives sold however are typically the lower performance energy saving models which when removing from their external casing and installed internally when able to suffers from difficulties when going to run various programs on Windows 7.

Due to this the higher quality model series tend to be best suited for installing Windows or other OSs on those as well as seeing the increase in overall performance in general. The drives sold for external use seem to be best suited for use as storage drives only.

SSDs on the other hand are the new perfomance boosters while still seeing the much higher cost per gigabyte over Sata II and Sata III drives available. Arguably when prices come down far enough this will be the new trend over running other performance high speed drives like Velocity Raptor and other 10,000-15,000rpm models by Western Digital.
 
#10
It couldn't be now could it??? :grinning: It's certainly been awhile being quite busy lately!

The other thing I should point out about custom installing Windows to any eSata while the installation may seem to work out once you boot without the drive plugged in any dual boot situation the Windows 7 installation that came preinstalled on the laptop may consider this a hardware change and require reactivation.

When going to change memoery from one pair of dimms by one brand to another seeing a lower voltage betrter suited for the present board the prompting for activating in 3 days appeared as if Windows had just been installed. With Windows 7 that makes any installation on an external drive even more fragile unless the drive is to remain constantly plugged in. On a laptop?

For a laptop that does have the room the option for adding in a second hard drive if not splitting the present drive up for any dual or multibooting would be the better options to consider.
 
#11
@PC eye:

I am going with a 80 GB Intel SSD for the internal drive, so not really space for extra partitions/OSes there.

Windows 7 (or at least the Sony OEM version I have) doesn't seem to care about different drives.

The only issue I seem to have right now is if the internal drive has an OS on it then the only way to boot to the external esata drive is to have it as the default OS in the internal drive's bcd. This works fine, although if the external esata drive is not plugged in on boot, then there is an error about it not being found/needing repair, but hitting enter, then selecting the internal OS then enter will boot to the internal OS. I really didn't want to have to go through such hoops when not having the esata drive plugged in.

Perhaps I can automate a bcd swapping program for those times I would want to boot to the external drive. I should just have to hide the bcd on the internal drive I think as it will always "see" that one first if it is there. Or, use the bootsequence command for bcdedit, automated to change the esata to the default on a boot sequence I want it to be first (this is probably best as it's a change for a single restart sequence).
 

JustinW

Super Moderator
Staff member
#12
I did this for awhile with Ubuntu on an external drive. Just make your internal OS is the default entry with EasyBCD and set the timeout to say something like 5 seconds or so, should give you enough time to select the external OS for boot.
 
#13
Agreed! I would never set any installation on a removable source as the default OS to start being too voilitile a setup from the start. Once portable without the other drive present you would be stuck not being to boot into the main drive's OS or have to select that as the secondary real fast to aviod stalling on startup.

It would be far easier to consider that drive for storage if not simply a secondary OS where you remain flexible. With a small SSD as the main drive any system image you create would be stored on the eSata drive. The external drive could then serve two purposes if large enough to have a second storage/backup partition when considering a dual boot setup.
 
#14
Thanks, I'll work something out like that.

Right now I'm trying to install Windows 7 on a single partition on the SSD. More convoluted than it really needs to be due to the fact of no Windows DVD supplied with the laptop. I'm just doing it to remove reserved partition and the system partition (I won't be encrypting the drive) to get that ~1.5 GB of space back to use (mostly the reserved for backup partition). Just need to get the time to finish setting it up right.
 
#15
That can get rough when working with a preinstalled OS and not having one provided. Most of time however you can go to the support site and read over the instructions for creating your own set of recovery disks.

The change of drives and types of drives there however might become a problem however for preserving the preinstall's activated state. Windows 7 is even more touchy about any hardware changes where you would need to call into MS to it reactivated if necessary.
 

mqudsi

Mostly Harmless
Staff member
#16
Welcome back, PC eye!
 
#18
Got my Windows 7 install all on a single partition with "Partition Wizard Home Edition" (a free program). I did not have any luck with using Bootit NG or Driveimage XML. I had issues with both of them not working right on my system.

Another note: I did figure out that you can use the "inactive" command in diskpart to inactivate a partition if you don't want your system to boot from it (even if you are currently using that as your "system"). THIS DOES PREVENT BOOTING FROM THAT DRIVE SO DO THIS KNOWING WHAT YOU ARE DOING.
 
#19
with the newer boards being seen the option to set usb hard drive as the first in the boot order tends to give people the wrong impression. The only bootable OS by way of a usb flash drive turns out to any Linux install to one or writing or unpacking the ISO image onto one and making that bootable.

Having downloaded a few of the latest releases for a few Linux distros I'm looking how EasyBCD can see them mounted as virtual drives in order to run them without the need for booting off of a cd or flash drive or even for any VM wares.