Bootable HDD - Configuring Auto-Attach Drives in Windows To Go

    Not so long ago, purely by accident, I found out that Windows can be installed and run from an external USB drive. No, not that I would not know about this at all - no one has canceled Windows PE. But I did not know that there was a solution right out of the box and called Windows To Go, though this solution was implemented only in the box that Windows Enterprise is written on.
    After a simple installation, we get bootable media in Windows, which has minor restrictions. For security reasons, created in this way, the media in any Windows is not automatically mounted (it is not assigned a letter), i.e. it is not accessible to the regular user. And also, when booting from such media, the internal disks of the computer are not visible, because they are disabled (“Offline” internal disk mode).

    It all started when I bought 2Tb Seagate Backup Plus to replace 1Tb 3Q Caynam. The reason for the acquisition is banal - on the old medium there was not enough space for backup at work. I liked the new hard drive because it is almost 2 times smaller (fits in the palm of your hand, it is easier and, of course, also USB 3.0. The old hard drive was pulled out of the box and the laptop was strengthened due to it. I left the box - all the same a completely aluminum case is now a rarity and it can clearly be adapted somewhere.

    Now I have a lot of space, even in abundance. And, remembering the mobile Windows, I thought - why not try what happened there at Microsoft. I downloaded the image of the necessary OS - there should only be Windows Enterprise, installed the OS in the virtual machine and, connecting an external drive, launched the wizard from the control panel. A little tormented Windows reported readiness. Rebooting directly in the virtual machine, I saw the loading of Windows 8.1 - the OS booted. After completing the work, I rebooted the already real computer, selecting boot into an external drive. Windows booted up. For some reason I was a little surprised :)

    During the installation of Windows To Go, the media is divided into two sections - 350Mb FAT32 for the bootloader and the rest of the OS space. I reduced the second section to 100Gb. Then he created another partition on 100Gb and formatted it in ext3 (debian or mint will live here) and all the rest of the space was reserved for the connection.

    When I installed this whole thing, I was already preoccupied with the thought - it would be nice if the Windows To Go partitions were not mounted on regular Windows systems. In order to avoid so to speak. Partitions with Linux are not mounted anyway. And here it turns out instead of one disk as many as three - a hash. But it turned out that everything was provided for by Microsoft and the disk on which Windows To Go was installed was not automatically mounted on other Windows systems.
    After loading Windows To Go, it turned out that the internal disks in the computer were not visible. Their status was Offline. Microsoft took care and here about us, poor users who, as it were, did not accidentally break anything.

    Then I abandoned this business, as I worked hard.

    After some time, at work, a friend of Windows “broke” for some trivial reasons: either he accidentally demolished something in the Program Files folder, or in the Users folder, or in the Windows folder - I still did not understand but I feel that Bill Gates is clearly out of business and the call for Windows Must Die is clearly out of topic. So here. We booted from my hard drive. The first installation on the new hardware is longer than the rest, because the configuration of iron is determined and configured, the following downloads are already standard. Everything booted, everything is fine only ... there are no hard drives. A simple matter - in the disk management snap-in, we translate the disks into the "Online" mode (RMB on the disk) and assign letters to the partitions. After copying the information, it was necessary to copy it to another computer - connect the USB HDD to the computer and no reaction - again diskmgmt.msc and go ...

    And after this incident, I realized that these restrictions are not convenient. If I make myself an exclusively autonomous system for my tasks and I don’t need to quickly connect to other machines through this device, then everything is fine, because I get a narrower device for a specific task. But if I have this solution as a chip to my data carrier , then this is inconvenient.

    So, there are two problems:
    - automounting disks, preferably only a data section;
    - Downloading Windows To Go with mounting all available data devices.

    Googling and poindoksiv on the Internet, I could not find a solution. Those. I did not find what exactly needs to be done, where to put a tick or what command to enter. Enriched with a wealth of information - yes, but nothing more. Several times, he steadily got a link to the Microsoft tech support site , but there, too, the solution was not deployed to the end. In such cases, I feel sad. Because either everything is very simple and you need to look for some admin that he would explain for I do not understand the elementary thing, or worse, since the problem is individual and you have to figure it out yourself and not the fact that you will figure it out. I had to think)

    On the aforementioned technical support page, we carefully read the text and cling to the NoDefaultDriveLetter attribute. Obviously this attribute determines whether a letter should be automatically assigned to a section. This attribute can be changed through the diskpart utility.

    Run the utility at the Windows To Go command prompt: diskpart

    Next, we work with the diskpart console.

    List the volumes: list volume

    List the volumes in the system. I know that my external hard drive after cutting 200Gb now "weighs" 1600Gb and can easily recognize it. Suppose my section has a lucky number.

    Select your partition (set focus on it, in terms of diskpart): select volume 13
    Display a list of disk attributes : attributes volume

    And we see the parameter "No drive letter by default: Yes." Yeah!

    We remove this attribute from the selected volume: attributes volume clear nodefaultdriveletter

    Display a list of disk attributes : attributes volume

    And we see the parameter “No drive letter by default: None”. Yeah!

    One issue has been resolved. Unfortunately, letters will now be automatically assigned to all available sections of our disk. This is because it is labeled MBR. If the disk were GPT partitioned, then it would be possible to manage separate partitions. But with GPT, I may have problems loading on those machines where there is no UEFI, so that's the only way.

    The next question is solved by the same utility :)
    For the connection of external media is responsible for the SAN policy - Storage Area Network. Unfortunately, nothing sensible I could not find how to manage it. Often got to this Microsoft tech support page . However, carefully reading the help to diskpart I saw the SAN parameter. Oh how!

    We enter diskpart: san in the console

    And we see "Autonomous internal disks". Yeah!

    We enter: san policy = OnlineAll We

    check the mode: san

    And we see "Translation of everything into standing" on the network "". Yeah!

    We exit the console: exit

    Everything is ready!

    I don’t think that my article will be directly super useful to the community and I suppose that there will be those who reasonably notice something like “Well, I entered two teams and ran to the hub - to write where the world is heading, the hubr is not the same”. This is all true in fact.
    However, I remember how I left Linux, I climbed the Internet and the article and just repeated it. And I did it! And while I crawled on the Internet in the evening, I recalled those times - when I didn’t know anything ... sometimes I wrote such nonsense in the console =) Therefore, I wrote this short article with one goal - if someone searches, let him succeed too.

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