Can I make an external hard drive bootable?

by on March 10, 2010

Q: Basically I have a mini laptop with a problem. It has a virus (99.9% sure) that basically doesn’t allow me to do anything once a user is logged into it. The icons keep blinking like it is continuously loading something. Stopping all non-essential processes does absolutely nothing to fix this. This mini-laptop thing has no form of connecting to it other than a USB or Ethernet/WiFi.

What I want to do is install Windows XP on my external HDD in addition to AVG anti-virus. I want to boot from the external and then run the virus scan on the mini-laptop drive.

I have a few different computers, so this is what I did. I took the hard drive out of my main laptop. I hooked the external HDD to it and put in a windows XP disc. I was able to install the OS on the External and thought everything was peachy. I restarted the computer and it said something about not being able to find a MBR (Master Boot Record).

Basically I want to know if there is a way I can make my External HD bootable and run a virus scan on a computer I connect it to?

One Response to “Can I make an external hard drive bootable?”
    Picked as best answer

    You’re on the right track, however that Windows installation isn’t going to work. A Windows install is custom tailored to the computer it is installed on, so swapping the drive over to the other computer isn’t going to help.

    First off:

    You can get the laptop to boot off the external harddrive by putting it to the top of the boot order in the laptop’s BIOS. It might be called USB or something like that in there.


    Follow these instructions to create a mostly universal bootable WinXP install. They mention using a USB Stick instead of an external harddrive, but as far as a computer is concerned they are basically the same thing.

    If you want to do more research on this topic check out these other websites: