# Thursday, 29 October 2009

So I've been hearing all the nice things about Windows 7 on old Atom powered netbooks and how well they are running with Windows 7. That's great because I happen to have one.

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Or two of these things.

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But there's just one little problem... BOTH of my eeePCs have only a 4GB SSD as it's main storage device, the 901 has an additional 8GB secondary storage but that drive is SLOOOOOOWWW. So I figured my chances of running Windows 7 on my eeePCs were pretty slim.

Then I finally figured out how to boot Windows 7 from a VHD on a USB storage device. And now I can do things that shouldn't be possible.

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Windows Media Center, running on an 800x480 screen resolution, on a machine with 1GB of RAM that's powered by an underclocked 600Mhz Celeron.

Yes, it's possible to do so. But there's not really any reason to. Cause the video card on the eeePC 701 doesn't even have Vista drivers so it's using the old Windows XP driver model, video performance while attempting video playback is pretty bad. Or it could just be the fact that there's an underclocked 900Mhz Celeron operating on 600Mhz. So.. this little piece of magic is possible due to the fact that the VHD containing the OS is actually running from a USB Hard Disk.

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Performance when running from an external hard disk is pretty good considering a few things. First of all Windows 7 was never meant to run off external storage, yes yes I know all you Linux users have been doing that for a while now. But serving the relatively small number of people who want to boot from an external device doesn't seem to be high on Microsoft's list. But there's just one main thing to remember.

You can't unplug the device when the OS is running.

This is the first question you want to ask right? Like I said, Windows was never meant to be run off external storage, it doesn't expect the system drive to disappear into thin air. Oh.. and what happens when the drive goes missing? Weird things.. sometimes Windows will just sit there unable to do anything, sometimes it restarts.

But anyway, you don't want to lug a portable hard disk with your slim netbook! You probably want to know if you can run off something more portable... more slim... something like a USB thumbdrive.

Yes. It is possible to run Windows 7 off a USB thumb drive. But would you want to? Thumbdrives have relatively slow random access speeds, couple with the fact that Windows 7 was never designed to be run off such a slow medium the system stutters and halts when multiple applications demand disk access. At times you might be waiting an eternity for the system to bring up something. But once the system settles down and you're not asking it to do much, well.. it works.

The strangest thing that I can't figure out is why shutting down take an ETERNITY to process.

So if you had a choice, using a USB hard disk is definitely a much better option than a thumb drive. A thumb drive strapped to a netbook is of course much more easier to carry around than any 2.5" hard disk.

For me?  Well let's just say I call this THE DRIP.

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It's like an IV drip that helps bring out the full potential of a netbook with a space deficiancy.

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Should you do this yourself? Only if you have a really really REALLY GOOD REASON. And that you REALLY REALLY REALLY Want to run Windows 7 on your old netbook. While everything seems to be working for me right now, this is definitely not a supported operation method so don't complain to Microsoft when it doesn't work out for you.


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