Using external USB disk as Dual Boot

First I would like to thank you for the great content you have here on It’s FOSS! super amazing! I just recently became an Ubuntu fan (you helped alot), and i started using Ubuntu as my main OS on my laptop and I am fully enjoying it. however on my office PC I can’t install Ubuntu as the only OS due to the fact that I am a data scientist and I use Microsoft Excel and Power BI extensively.

I was thinking of doing a dual boot but I don’t want to take away storage from my main hard drive and I read that sometimes while Windows updates it can erase the Ubuntu installation, so I was thinking of buying a USB stick and designate it as the hard drive for the Ubuntu installation, I saw some posts about creating a bootable USB with persistent storage but I want something more.

My question to you is as follows:

Is it possible to set a USB to be formatted as a valid hard drive partition for Ubuntu while securing that Windows shouldn’t try to reformat it during updates? and doing the above, will it be possible to access the files from Windows (and vice versa)?

if yes can you please help me?

Thanks! and keep posting great content!

–It’s FOSS reader Sruli

1 Like

What you are referring here, Sruli, is known as persistent USB. This allows you to create a live USB that will also save your settings, install applications and everything.

One major problem of running an operating system from USB is that it will be slower than internal HDD/SSD because the speed here is limited to the maximum speed of USB2/3.0.

Give it a try and see if it suits your need.

Would it be possible to add a second internal disk to the laptop? Maybe replace the DVD drive (if it has one). This would allow you to change the boot order at start up and would be as fast as the existing disk.
I realise this probably won’t work in your case but just a thought…

Absolutely possible !
But you have to deal with the BIOS to manage the boot order, that’s all.
Prefer using LEGACY instead of EFI (or UEFI)
The order should be…
1st boot on USB Lagacy (where you locate your Linux)
2nd you internal HD

Beware, USB is slow…
I would recommand this option in case using Corporate Laptop with “corp-OS” and profiting Linux on same machine.

I would buy a Portable hard drive and use that. More storage + more reliable than a usb stick.

1 Like

I fully agree! An external HDD USB3 is fast enough to work well and without notable speed penalty. I have used one with only USB2 and it was OK. You not need to meddle with the BIOS /UEFI if you can install Grub on the Windows HDD and it is (relatively) easy to reinstall it if a Windows update erases it.

Grub can handle it without meddling with BIOS/UEFI if you can install it on the Windows drive.