Booting from external hard drive

Soldato
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My housemate was thinking about buying a laptop and getting rid of his desktop pc. He has a work laptop - a dell e6420. Is it possible to connect a usb/esata hard drive and boot from this so he can do what he wants with it?

Specs of the laptop are here, reading it, it sounds like usb 2, not 3 but does support esata. Would a usual sata drive connect but just operate at a slower speed or do you have to buy dedicated esata drives?

http://www.laptopmag.com/review/laptops/dell-latitude-e6420.aspx
 
Associate
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I know for a fact that you can do this with linux as it is what i often do with a USB seagate goflex.
I'm not sure if this can be done with windows. Personally i would be surprised if you are given an option to install on an external drive? But i'm sure many other people have either tried and failed or tried and succeeded who can share their knowledge.
If he doesn't need all the features of windows and can get to grips with ubuntu easy enough then i would suggest that. Definitely the easiest option :)
 
Soldato
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I know for a fact that you can do this with linux as it is what i often do with a USB seagate goflex.
I'm not sure if this can be done with windows. Personally i would be surprised if you are given an option to install on an external drive? But i'm sure many other people have either tried and failed or tried and succeeded who can share their knowledge.
If he doesn't need all the features of windows and can get to grips with ubuntu easy enough then i would suggest that. Definitely the easiest option :)

Thanks. Doubtful he would go for Ubuntu or Linux, he can only just use Windows XP!

I know on my desktop PC I can choose to boot from USB, USB HDD and other USB options
 
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I done this with my USB pendrive a few months back using an application called A BOOTABLE USB. Not too sure if it works with external harddrives (Should do). After completing the process of allowing your harddrive to be the boot, upon rebooting your system, jump into the bios and change boot process to the Ext. HDD.

EDIT: Dont think that application wil do an external HDD. Sorry.

On another note, the USB had to be formatted first so he will need to make sure he does a backup first before going ahead if he has important files etc already stored.
 
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Soldato
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Easier to get a second hard drive and just swap them back and forth no? Dell machines usually have very accessable hard drives. Otherwise how about a virtual machine (assuming he can install programs)?
 
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I'm sure selecting to boot from the USB won't be the issue.
I just can't find a suitable method to boot a full version of windows from an external HDD. Windows likes to have a large amount of data going between the drives and the components. It's never been designed to run from external devices. :confused:
 
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