SAN Boot Windows - Windows iSCSI Software Targets

Conclusion and Recommendation

Windows can be installed and booted from an iSCSI Target using an Iniatiator system running UEFI Firmware, however this is not supported across all iSCSI Target Software. SAN booting Windows using an Initiator with BIOS Firmware is far more widely supported.

Windows Setup (setup.exe) must be used to install Windows to an iSCSI Target as this process modifies the Windows registry to enable successfully running Stage 2 of the installation process. It is not possible to install Windows by manually extracting the Operating System files from install.wim and running bcdboot to create boot files as the registry is not modified when using this method.

Comparisons between the different iSCSI Targets listed in this page are difficult to make due to the very narrow focus on SAN booting Windows Operating Systems. Other features have not been tested, however for the purpose of SAN booting Windows operating systems I would highly recommend iSCSI Console. During testing iSCSI Console appeared to perform at least as well as the other Targets when writing a 3 GiB file to the iSCSI Target disk, and has the advantage of being portable, open source and free, and is in active development. It also supports booting Initiator systems with UEFI and BIOS Firmware.

Based on iSCSI Console tests (see here) it is possible to install and boot the following versions of Windows from iSCSI Targets running on a Storage Area Network -

Document date - 14th June 2019