How to Make Your External Hard Drive Bootable

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How to Make Your External Hard Drive Bootable

I would sometimes work on a certain project using a powerful machine. What I mean by powerful is that it can perform different tasks simultaneously without compromise. I do this so that it will be easier for me to finish my work. However, technical problems are unavoidable.

For this reason, I decided to make my external hard drive bootable. In case you’re wondering, bootable hard drives are intended to contain necessary files for a computer to start. It can run functions similar to an actual computer. It allows you to run the operating system (OS) and other third-party software. The only catch is that it runs on an external device.

You cannot expect a bootable hard drive to have a similar performance to that of an actual drive. Bootable hard drives only guarantee a more convenient way for you to troubleshoot or install an OS on your computer. It provides the flexibility that you need in order to run tests on different laptops or PCs.

In this article, we’re going to go through a step-by-step guide on how to convert your external hard drive into a bootable device. This article is not limited to Windows users. I will also provide a guide that is also compatible with Mac users.

Making a Bootable External Hard Drive via Windows

The first thing is to make sure that your drive has no files stored whatsoever. You should also take into consideration the OS to use, or else you’ll experience compatibility issues later on. For this article, we’re going to use Windows 10 as an example. This is because most of the computer now runs on Windows 10. There is still that prerogative to install older versions of the OS.

Cleaning up the hard drive

The first step is to plug in the external hard drive to the computer. Search for ‘disk management’ at the Start Menu. An interface will appear with a list of hard drives that are connected to the computer. Look for your external hard drive and format it with the option to use NTFS. The formatting process will then proceed and last for only a few seconds.

Using a third-party software

After cleaning the hard drive, go to Microsoft’s website and install Windows 10 Media Creation tool. Run the program and install the Windows 10 ISO file. The Windows 10 Media Creation tool is used to directly install Windows 10 to any external devices.

Another important software to have is WintoUSB. Search for the program on the internet and install it. WintoUSB is used to speed up the process of installing the Windows OS to any external devices. After the installation process is complete, run the program.

Place the downloaded ISO file to the WintoUSB program. After this, there will be a list of the supported version of Windows 10. Choose the Windows 10 version which matches the version of your computer. After that, select the destination disk. In this case, your external hard drive. After that, the program will install the necessary files for a couple of minutes.

Running the computer’s BIOS

Once the installation is complete, restart your PC and repeatedly press F2 to open the computer’s BIOS. Proceed to the Boot tab and make sure that Boot Mode is set to Legacy support, the Boot priority is Legacy first, and the fast boot is disabled. After this step, exit and save the changes made. The computer will restart again. While your computer is loading, hit F8 or F12 to open Boot Manager. A list of drives will show up in which case you have to choose the hard drive which you plan to boot.

The computer will then restart for the last time, and a Windows 10 setup will appear. Check out Best portable hard drive list here


Making a Bootable Hard Drive for Mac

If you’re a Mac user, kindly take note that this article will only focus on the versions of MacOS X.

Making an external hard drive bootable for Mac is pretty straightforward. The first step is to plug in your external hard drive and search for ‘disk utility’. After that, an interface will appear with a list of the available hard drives.

In this case, select your external hard drive which you plan to boot. Click on the option and select ‘GUID Partition Table’. This is necessary in order for your computer to detect the external hard drive as a bootable drive. Apply the changes made and run the partition program. Quit the interface and restart your computer.

Hold down the ‘Option’ key just after hearing the sound your computer will usually make while booting. The process will take a while but after that, a list of bootable hard drives will appear. Select the backup drive or Recovery Hard Drive. The computer will then show the OS X Utilities interface. Click the ‘Reinstall OS X’ option.

Continue with the procedure and agree to the terms and condition. Following that, another interface will appear which lists the hard drives the computer currently have. This is the time where instead of choosing the built-in hard drive, you have to choose the connected external hard drive.

The installation process will take place and your computer will restart. After this, the MacOS X set-up will appear. Check out Best thunderbolt drive list here



Having a bootable external hard drive allows you to speed up your tasks which require you working on different machines. You no longer have to worry about doing the same task you’re doing on your personal computer and then transferring it to another computer.

Instead, you simply have to plug in your external hard drive and run the system. The operating system is not an issue as well. You can just download the latest version of either Windows OS for PC or MacOS for Apple.

There is already a ton of advancement when it comes to technology. Hopefully, you’re able to learn anything you could ever need when it comes to making a bootable drive. Besides, the process is quite simple, so you won’t have any problems as long as your external drive’s still fully functional.

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