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How do I create a 8Gb USB bootable from Windows 8.1 64bit, in persistent mode?

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Persistent LiveUSB

Try Unetbootin or MultiSystem to create the LiveUSB. Both have option to keep changes in Ubuntu-based distros, including elementary. I succesfully installed new apps and packages in Live sessions created by these tools, although not all programs were able to install.

Direct installation on USB drive

Installing the OS directly to USB drive is a bit more tricky. You basically have to select proper USB drive during install of the OS and also put bootloader on the same drive (this option is available when you make your partition scheme manually during install by choosing the "something else" option). You will also have to adjust some Bios settings to boot from this drive (that may apply for the LiveUSB method above, too).

in this step you choose "something else"

here you have to select correct USB drive and also put bootloader on it

However I failed the one time I tried this (with elementary Freya), although I think it was the machine's fault (cheap Acer netbook, all distros were weird with it).

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If you are asking for the steps you can try this link. Works like a charm :)

  • While the link might be helpful, please indicate the gist on your answer's body. It would be really helpful in case the site gets unreachable or becomes permanently offline. See How do I write a good answer section on this site's help. – Axel Advento Jun 21 '17 at 0:08
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The best program the make a bootable usb is Universal USB installer however you can also move the files inside the ISO directly to your USB and it should work properly.

There is also Unetbootin and Multisystem, however both of them have issues with some iso files and distros.

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I've always had good luck with using Rufus USB installer.
It's extremely easy to use, and many examples are available.

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