Windows To Go: FAQ

With Windows To Go, you can create a copy of Windows on a USB drive and then use it wherever you go. If you’re working from home or traveling, insert the USB drive in your Windows 8, or Windows 8.1 PC and you can open and use all the apps and files you need to get your work done.

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What is a Windows To Go workspace?

A Windows To Go workspace consists of a Windows 8, or Windows 8.1 operating system on a USB drive as well as all the files, folders, and apps that were copied over when the workspace was created.

How do I start my PC from a Windows To Go workspace?

When you create a Windows To Go workspace, you'll be asked if you want to boot your PC from the USB drive automatically.

  • Choose Yes to boot automatically. This is the easiest way, because you don't need to do anything else. Your PC will automatically boot from any plugged-in USB drive.

  • Choose No to boot manually. If you choose No, you might need to change the startup options in your PC’s firmware. To learn how, check the info that came with your PC or visit the PC manufacturer’s website.


  • Changing firmware settings is an advanced procedure, and it's possible to accidentally change a setting that could prevent your PC from starting correctly. Make sure you follow the manufacturer's instructions exactly.


  • Windows changes the boot order when you choose Yes, so make sure the Windows To Go USB drive is the only removable USB drive plugged in when you start your PC.

  • Only use USB drives that you own or someone trustworthy (like your system admin) gives you. Some drives might make your PC vulnerable to viruses and other malware.

  • If you're not sure which USB drive has your Windows To Go workspace, talk to your system admin or the person who created the workspace for you.

You can always change the boot order later using the Windows To Go item in Control Panel. To change this setting:

  1. Swipe in from the right edge of the screen, and then tap Search.
    (If you're using a mouse, point to the lower-right corner of the screen, move the mouse pointer up, and then click Search.)

  2. Enter Change Windows To Go startup options, and then tap or click Change Windows To Go startup options.

  3. Change the setting.

Why won't my Windows To Go workspace start?

If your Windows To Go workspace won't start, your PC might have a different type of processor than your Windows To Go USB drive. Processors come in 32-bit and 64-bit varieties, and if your PC's processor type is different than your Windows To Go drive, you won't be able to create Windows To Go workspace. To see if they're mismatched, ask your system admin for the processor type of your Windows To Go drive, then check your PC's processor type.

To check your PC's processor type:

  1. Open System by swiping in from the right edge of the screen, tapping Search (or if you're using a mouse, pointing to the upper-right corner of the screen, moving the mouse pointer down, and then clicking Search), entering System in the search box, and tapping or clicking System.

  2. Look under System type and see if your PC has a 32-bit or a 64-bit processor.

How do I stop using my Windows To Go workspace and continue working on my PC?

Shut down your Windows To Go workspace, remove the drive, and then start your PC. You shut down your workspace the same way you shut down your PC. For more info, see Shut down (turn off), sleep, or hibernate your PC


  • It’s important that you shut down your Windows To Go workspace completely before you remove the USB drive that contains it; otherwise, you could lose data or damage the operating system. If you do remove the drive by mistake, reinsert it immediately, and wait for Windows To Go to finish shutting down.

What is a Windows image file and where can I find it?

A Windows image file (with a .wim extension) contains the operating system, apps, and files of the PC. When you create a Windows To Go workspace, you’ll need to choose an image file. Windows To Go will usually find the image file, but if it doesn’t, ask your system admin for help.

What hardware is required to create a Windows To Go workspace?

To help make sure that the Windows To Go workspace you create works as it should, we recommend only using devices that display the Designed for Windows logo for the version of Windows you're running. For a list of these devices, go to the Windows To Go: Feature overview page on the TechNet website.

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