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Boot OSX from USB external drive and record to internal drive on iMac

Discussion in 'Digital Audio' started by gannonsamuel, Aug 7, 2012.

  1. macrumors member

    I know it's recommended to record to a drive that is not the same one that the OS is stored on, however on my iMac the only option is to record to an external USB drive (My audio interface doesn't enjoy daisy chaining firewire for some reason)

    so what if i boot OSX from an external USB drive and record to the internal one and then copy logic/protools projects?

    are there any particular problems that could arise doing this?
    Do Macs get a bit skittish being regularly booted from an external drive or don't they care?

    or is it just a stupid idea?


  2. macrumors 65816

    I am running Logic on a MacBook Air with a 256GB SSD. I have only been using Logic for about 6 months, but have always recorded to the internal (boot) drive without issue. Maybe it's due to the fast SSD? Why do you think you can't record on the boot drive? I understand there might be performance concerns if you have a slow or fragmented drive, but those would be the same even if you booted from an external drive.

    Logic will show you how much latency you're getting, and you can try using smaller buffer sizes to keep it low. Logic also has a special low latency mode you can use during recording.
  3. macrumors member


    It's been years since I had any trouble recording to my boot drive, but I rarely go over 8 simultaneous tracks.

    It's tough to guess whether it would be better or worse to boot from an external drive. You'd be giving the boot drive a significant performance decrease, so swapping would take longer. I wouldn't be surprised if it was actually worse than recording to the boot disk, but it's tough to know without testing.

    How heavy a load will you be placing on the recording drive?
  4. macrumors member

    It's not so much that i have had any particular problems with drives, (i have recently had to replace the internal one but i'm putting that down to general wear and tear)

    My thinking here is that the Internal SATA connection is going to be a hell of a lot faster at moving audio files to and fro then the USB connection

    I was just curious mostly.

    I've been experimenting with recording onto and mixing from an external USB drive, and that seems to start getting a bit choppy above about 16 tracks or so in logic.

    BUT i have noticed that protools especially seems to behave better when running projects off the external drive, there are projects that when run on the boot drive get lots of playback errors.
    When run from the external drive there are no errors.

    The main thing is that i wanted to know if macs get particularly stressed about regularly booting from different drives.
  5. macrumors 601

    I'm doing exactly as you describe in the original post.

    I use a White Intel iMac and run 10.7.4 (and Cubase) from a bare drive in a USB docking station. For my project data, it goes to a small (8gb) partition I've created on my internal drive. I purposely keep the project partitions small so that the drive's head don't have to "searching all over the drive" to find writing space, and it also makes defragging the project partition quick and easy....
  6. macrumors member


    Awesome, i'm glad i'm not the only one to have had this idea, and you've never had any problems doing it this way?

    Would you say it is better then recording to an external drive or have you not tried?
  7. macrumors 601

    "Awesome, i'm glad i'm not the only one to have had this idea, and you've never had any problems doing it this way?
    Would you say it is better then recording to an external drive or have you not tried?"

    The only response I can give is, "this is the way I do it and it works for me."

    Whether it will work for -you-, you'll have to try and see for yourself...
  8. macrumors member


    No, there should be no issues. I used to boot from several different disks for QA purposes.

    In general for finicky, real-time stuff like audio the best advice is 'try it out'. Performance depends on so many variables that it's tough to give a definitive answer; what works on one combination of hardware/software may not on another.

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