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.
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Michael Pietroforte

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 IT management and system administration.
Profile photo of Michael Pietroforte

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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21 Comments
  1. avatar
    Rumen 2 years ago

    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. Profile photo of Michael Pietroforte
    Michael Pietroforte 2 years ago

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

  3. avatar
    brett 2 years ago

    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. Profile photo of Michael Pietroforte
    Michael Pietroforte 2 years ago

    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. avatar
    Rumen 2 years ago

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

  6. avatar
    Dominic 2 years ago

    I have no problems when it comes to installing win2go on my USB. Whenever I try to boot from it to set windows up it wont progress from the loading screen of the flag and the spinning dots.

  7. Profile photo of Michael Pietroforte
    Michael Pietroforte 2 years ago

    Dominic, try it on a different computer, to see if the USB stick is okay.

  8. avatar
    Kris Mattingly 2 years ago

    We are running into issues where the Windows to Go device will only boot using a USB 2.0 port on certain machines. On most machines it works just fine in a USB 3.0 port. The failure point comes when Windows is beginning to load (the spinning dots), then the error screen. The last line on the error screen says, “Inaccessible Boot Device”. That is when we switch it to a USB 2.0 port. On the Lenovo L540, we have to edit the UEFI to change USB 3.0 from Auto to Disabled before the 2.0 ports work.
    We suspect that the Windows driver for the USB 3.0 stack is not compatible with the ports on these machines.

  9. Profile photo of Michael Pietroforte
    Michael Pietroforte 2 years ago

    Kris, thanks for the tip. I think I have seen this error before. It is quite possible that it is a driver issue.

  10. avatar
    Matthew Lowe 2 years ago

    Hi
    I am a student and had to buy a W2G stick for school. The installation of the stick went without any problems and it works fine. When I shutdown the pc and remove the W2G USB stick to try and boot normally into Windows 8.1 that is installed on my laptop, it won’t boot up windows as it should and the laptop gets stuck in an infinite loop of crashing trying to restore itself.

    I have tried everything that I could think of because it won’t even boot up in safe mode no matter what I do. The boot order has my HDD drive selected as first but even when i force it to boot up from the HDD it still gets stuck inthe infinite loop that i described. The only thing that does work is when I put the W2G stick back in the computer it boots up normally from the stick without any problems.

    The only solution that I found to work, is to do a restore to factory settings. It is really annoying and my school institution doesn’t want to sort it out or they can’t admit they don’t know whats going on.

    Please if somebody could help me with this it would be a great help as I don’t really want to keep restoring my pc to factory settings.

  11. avatar
    brett 2 years ago

    I put in a comment back in April. The problem was between the HP Laptop’s BIOs code and WTG 8.0. My solutions was going to WTG 8.1.1 and to update the system BIOs. No problems now. Now works with any laptop encryption I use. I can also use Wifi and ethernet connections without problems.

  12. Profile photo of Michael Pietroforte
    Michael Pietroforte 2 years ago

    brett, thanks for the update!

  13. avatar
    Justin 2 years ago

    I currently plug in the usb device (32 gig, kingston datatraveler) and the boot get stuck on the windows 8 logo with the moving dots and remains here even after hours! I’ve re-imaged with both win 8.1 64bit and win 8.1 32bit but same results. Any advice?

  14. Profile photo of Michael Pietroforte
    Michael Pietroforte 2 years ago

    Justin, perhaps a driver is missing. You could try the stick on another machine. If it works there, start Windows To Go on the original machine in Safe Mode (press F8 several times before Windows starts). Maybe you can find some helpful error messages in the event log.

  15. avatar
    Justin 2 years ago

    I’ll try another machine, I’ve tested it out on three so far. Where would I find the event logs ?

  16. Profile photo of Michael Pietroforte
    Michael Pietroforte 2 years ago

    Just start typing Event Viewer on the Start screen or Start menu.

  17. avatar
    Justin 2 years ago

    So i attempted to restart the process and install a clean copy. Now i get an error that says boot device failed, and when i attempt to book from an efi file, it doesnt recognize the volume on the usb disk 🙁

  18. avatar
    FMaz 1 year ago

    Fast… well, so far I’ve been looking at my screen for 45 minutes and I can still see the little loading circle going… I hate loading with no verbose !

    Being that I get into the loading stage, I know the USB key does boot. But why is it taking forever ?

  19. avatar
    mesut 1 year ago

    wintogo at the boot hangs there for ever , reseted boot with
    bcdboot.exe X:\windows /s X: /f ALL
    but same hanging rolling and rolling no massage nothing,
    did any one solve this
    upss i will try
    Up next from the System Recovery Options select “Command Prompt”.cmd from wind 8 installer
    A cmd window will be displayed on your screen; there type “bootrec /rebuildbcd” and press enter from your keyboard.
    Wait while the command is being executed.
    let you know,

  20. avatar
    sabreen 5 months ago

    i am facing problem 2 ! pls help

  21. avatar
    yaron 3 months ago

    hi
    still can’t load WTG?

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