Windows To Go – Some tips and an odd boot problem (error code: 0xc000000e)

Windows To Go is a great new feature in Windows 8 that allows you to boot a full-blown Windows 8 system from a USB drive. In this post, I share a few experiences and explain what you can do if booting up fails with the error code 0xc000000e or because the USB drive is ignored.

Michael PietroforteMVP By Michael Pietroforte - Thu, April 25, 2013 - 5 comments google+ icon

Michael Pietroforte is the founder and editor of 4sysops. He is a Microsoft Most Valuable Professional (MVP) with more than 30 years of experience in system administration.

We already explained how to install Windows To Go. I think every admin should have a USB stick with Windows 8 and all the tools required to get an unbootable PC running again. Windows To Go has become an indispensable tool for me.

I think recovery boot systems such as Kon-Boot and the Trinity Rescue Kit have a hard time to come. Windows To Go is so much more powerful. You can essentially use any tool that runs on Windows 8. You can even easily repair systems that are protected with BitLocker. And, if a tool is missing, you download it with the web browser of your choice or connect to your Dropbox account to get all you need.

Windows To Go USB drives

It is really amazing how fast Windows 8 boots up from a USB stick. I am using the Kingston DTHX30 64GB stick on a USB 3.0 port. Windows 8 doesn’t boot up as fast as from the SSD of my Samsung Ultrabook, but it is definitely faster than from a hard disk.

USB stick for Windows To Go

You can also use Windows To Go to restore a PC with an imaging tool. I am using Acronis True Image, which is probably the best backup/imaging tool around. A flash drive is usually not big enough to store a backup, which is why I use an external hard drive for this purpose. I can highly recommend the WD My Passport 2TB Portable External Hard Drive for this purpose.

If you have laptop users who seldom come to the office, you might offer them this backup option. This would allow them to restore their laptop with a pre-configured image when they messed up their installation but are too far away from the office to bother you.

Windows To Go boot error 0xc000000e

Not everything shines with Windows To Go. Several times already, my Windows To Go flash drive was somehow damaged and Windows 8 refused to boot up. This is the error message:

Your PC needs to be repaired

The application or operating system couldn’t be loaded because
a required file is missing or contains errors.

File:\windows\system32\winload.exe
Error code: 0xc000000e

Well, I already knew that the PC needs to be repaired. That is why I wanted to use Windows To Go. When I checked the USB drive, winload.exe was always perfect in shape. It appears that something messed up my boot configuration when I used the USB stick for other purposes. I haven’t yet figured out what that was. But since this happened a couple of times with different USB drives, I somehow doubt that it is a hardware issue. Investigation is ongoing… If you experienced a similar problem, please let me know.

Anyway, to fix the boot problem, you don’t need to re-install Windows To Go. You only have to re-create the boot entries:

bcdboot.exe X:\windows /s X: /f ALL

“X:” the driver letter of your USB drive. Of course, you have to do this from a working Windows 8 machine.

PC ignores Windows To Go USB drive

Another problem that you might encounter if you want to boot up Windows To Go on a relatively new PC is that the computer ignores the USB drive and boots up from the internal drive. In that case, you might have to disable the boot options Secure Boot and UEFI (Unified Extensible Firmware Interface). Of course, you also have to ensure that your USB drive comes before the internal system drive in the boot drive priority order.

Have you been working with Windows To Go? Please share your experiences.

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5 Comments- Leave a Reply

  1. Rumen says:

    Hi,
    I had a similar (and very unpleasant) experience with my Windows 8 ToGo.
    Unfortunately, I came across this article too late – I had already re-installed my ToGo environment with Windows 8.1. Now here is the best part – only a week later, I am once again unable to boot it.
    This time the error about the USBSTOR.SYS driver (but otherwise the same). The drive seems to be in a god condition and the driver file itself too. Any ideas how to troubleshoot this?

  2. Did you try to restore the boot entries as described in the article?

  3. brett says:

    I am having issues with an HP laptop and a Window to Go (WTG) boot USB device. Boot order has USB drive boot first and boots to the device’s encryption partition. When it goes to boot to WTG it then starts the local hard drive boot (with a PGP encryption login). On laptops and desktops without PGP installed, no problems. the USB boots to WTG WIM with no problems.
    Is not the USB device and WTG install supposed to disable the local hard drive?
    What might I do here?

  4. Sounds strange. WTG doesn’t disable the local drive, but I don’t see how PGP could interfere with the boot order. I would check the UEFI settings in the PC settings. Make sure that non-UEFI systems (compatibility mode) can boot up.

  5. Rumen says:

    I gave up on WTG for everyday use. Great idea, but it probably still needs to be worked on before it is reliable enough.

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