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Is it possible to install Windows 8 from a external hard drive without losing data? With the freeeare ISO2Disc you can make a installation CD/USB from Windows 8 ISO image. However, what to do if you don’t have a CD or USB drive in hand? This tutorial will explain how to create a bootable hard drive from Windows 8 ISO image, and then install Windows 8 directly from external hard drive.

Part 1: Copy Windows 8 Installation Files to Hard Drive

  1. First connect your hard drive to another working computer as a slave/second drive.
  2. You need to copy the setup files from Windows 8 ISO to your hard drive. This can be done using the freeware 7-Zip. After installing 7-Zip locally, right-click on your Windows 8 ISO image and select 7-Zip -> Extract files.

    decompress-win8-iso-image

  3. Next you need to specify where the destination should be. Click button to select the root path of the attached hard drive. Click OK.

    7-zip-extract

  4. Now the extracting progress window will display.

    extracting-iso-image

    When this is done, the extraction dialog will automatically close. Now you’ve successfully copied all contents of Windows 8 ISO to your hard drive.

Part 2: Make Hard Drive Bootable

  1. Open the Command Prompt with admin privileges. In Windows 7, go to Start > All Programs > Accessories. Right-click on Command Prompt and select Run as administrator.
  2. In the Command Prompt, type in the following commands, and press Enter key after typing each command.
    Diskpart
    List Disk
    Select Disk 1
    List Partition
    Select Partition 1
    Active
    Exit

    set-partition-active

    The commands above will set the first partition of your attached hard drive as active.

  3. Next type this command to mark your hard drive as bootable:
    e:\boot\bootsect.exe /nt60 e:

    set-partition-bootable

    Assuming that e: is the drive letter of attached hard drive, where the Windows 8 installation files are copied to.

  4. At this moment your external hard drive is bootable and you can then use it to install Windows 8. Close the Command Prompt and shutdown the computer.

Part 3: Install Windows 8

Place the hard drive back into the target machine. Make sure that the BIOS is configured to boot from the hard drive. If you did everything correctly, you should see the blue Windows logo and setup will load. Install Windows 8 as usual (but don’t format your hard drive this time otherwise it will erase the Windows 8 setup files too).

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