Can I boot my HP laptop from an external harddrive

Hello there,

I am currently having problems with my HP dv5t-1011ea laptop (Vista) that is about 4 and half years old. It tends to randomly freeze and startup repair will not run if asked to do so before windows boots. I have taken it to an IT technician who said that he could not read the HDD using his equipment, that it is on its way out and to back up all my important data.

However, apart from the occasional freeze, the laptop is still going. As I have 6 months of University left and can not afford a new laptop until after graduation, I am trying to keep it going so I can use it for study. However, I am quite worried that it will completely fail on me at any point. I was wondering if as a cheaper and temporary alternative to replacing the laptop if I could buy a cheap external HDD and run my laptop off there. If so, would I have to buy windows (or any other OS for that matter) or could I use the ‘system recovery DVD’ supplied to me by HP with the laptop? I basically just need it working so I can browse the net and word process.

I have run ‘SeaTools’ which said my HDD failed its test (although did not give any more info…) and have recently run CHKDSK which repaired some errors and I actually haven’t any freezing since.

Any advice and I would be most grateful,