Installing Windows to a USB drive

I know I can’t install Windows to a USB drive directly using a Windows installation DVD, but I also haven’t been able to use “cloning” software that’s suppose to bypass Microsoft’s restriction. With two different products, I get the same error message - that the software doesn’t support writing to a disk with 4K size sectors.

What I heard is that this is because of the SATA-to-USB adapter connected to the hard drive I’m using. I’m using a brand new Crucial 500GB 2.5" drive.

What I’m trying to find out is if there’s a Startech adapter that will avoid this problem. From what I read, Windows should be able to deal with the drive as having the new 512e advanced format, rather than 4K sectors, but the interface needs to “show” the drive that way.

Hello @Paul,

Thank you for posting on the Community!

Any of our USB to SATA adapters, like our USB312SAT3CB for example, will present the sector size to the operating system however the drive is configured to show it. So if the drive uses a 4K sector size, it will pass this along to the operating system and software you are using and it will be detected as 4K sectors, but if the drive is 512e it will be presented as 512 byte sectors.

Unfortunately as this is using third party software to get around the intended way of installing Windows, we would be unable to guarantee if any of our adapters would work for this use. If the software you are using is unable to write to a disk that is 4K sectors, it may be best to consult Crucial to confirm if your drive uses 4K or 512e for the sectors. It may be worth confirming with the software manufacturer to confirm if the software will work with 512e sectors.

Lukas T

I think I’m going to need to contact Crucial, unless someone here has done something similar with a Startech adapter and replies to this. It also might make a difference if I use the USB 3.0 or the 3.1 adapter.

My understanding is that the underlying hardware of recent SSD drives (like my Crucial MX500) has 4K sectors, but also has the 512e feature for compatibility with drives with 512 bytes per sector. The problem is whether the SATA-to-USB adapter “hides” the 512e feature and just presents the drive as having 4K sectors.