I’ve come across a very good solution to run Windows natively on a Mac or anywhere really, while keeping it portable. This is perfect for testing things out on Windows if you’re a Mac user, or if you’re constrained on storage space. I have quite powerful hardware on my MacBook Pro which is my daily driver right now. But it has limited storage, so, I can’t install a lot of games or compile Chromium if I wanted to 🤷🏽‍♂️.

The solutions:

The simplest way would be install Windows via Bootcamp but that requires you to dedicate the storage space you will need to use in Windows. A better solution is to build a “Windows To Go” USB drive that you can just boot into and start using Windows from.

But that does not perform very well on regular USB sticks since USB storage read and write speeds are pretty slow compared to SSD’s we’re used to. Whenever you’re doing anything storage related (e.g. an `npm install`) it feels like you’re using an old computer with slow hard drive.

Enter SanDisk Extreme PRO USB 3.1 Solid State Flash Drive. It comes in 128GB and 256GB versions. I’m guessing they’re using same or similar chips to ones used in SSD’s because these have write speeds of up to 380MB/s. I looked around and couldn’t find anything with similar performance. My only wish is that it came with USB Type-C connectors but I found this handy little noda USB Type-C to USB Type A Adapter.

Anyways, it’s just a USB stick, so, very portable. Compared to a full-size portable SSD’s, it’s much less susceptible to breaking when dropped. And it can simply be carried in back pocket.

Create “Windows To Go” USB drive:

  1. Download and run Rufus (I prefer the portable edition)

  2. Download Windows 10 image

  3. Plugin the SanDisk Extreme USB drive

  4. Select the SanDisk drive in Rufus from “Device” list

  5. Click “SELECT” button in “Boot Selection” and choose Windows 10 image

  6. Now the important part, choose “Windows To Go” in the “Image option” section

  7. Select the “Partition Scheme” suitable for you or MBR if you’re not sure

  8. Click “Start” and the end

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After a couple minutes you’ll be notified that the process has finished. Now you can eject the USB drive or restart and enter your computer’s boot menu to use it. Windows will ask you about a couple of details on the first run to set things up. After the setup is complete, you’re good to go. You now have a high performance portable Windows USB drive that can be used anywhere.