Possible with Windows 7/bootcamp from external thunderbolt SSD (iMac 2012)?

Discussion in 'iMac' started by Mac32, Nov 28, 2012.

  1. macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Nov 20, 2010
    #1
    Hi,

    The title says it all really. I'm going to buy the new iMac 27'', but was very disappointed with the lack of storage options. I would like to use bootcamp, and have a seperate partion for Windows 7 and gaming. Because I'm forced by Apple to buy the fusion drive, this is unfortunately not going to work.

    Can I install Windows 7 on an external thunderbolt SSD, and run Windows 7 and my games from there? If so, will this an external SSD impact performance in gaming in anyway? I'm thinking of getting this model: LaCie Rugged 120GB SSD

    It would be great to hear from someone who has attempted this, or is familiar with bootcamp.
    Thanks!
     
  2. macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Nov 16, 2009
    #2
    Had the same question & would really like to know, the whole 3TB problem has made me really unsure about my choices now
     
  3. macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2012
    #3
    How about just formatting the 3TB as 2TB in OSX and then install Bootcamp, would that be possible?
     
  4. macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Nov 5, 2006
    #4
    Bootcamp will not install on and 3TB drives on a Mac. This is due to the way Apple implements it's EFI firmware.

    Largest drive it would support is 2TB - not available on the iMac so it's really 1TB max.
     
  5. macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jul 21, 2011
    #5
    If it's anything like the 2011 iMac or MacBook Pro then you should be able to run boot camp off a TB SSD. You would need to use Winclone to get the Boot Camp partition off the internal drive and onto the Thunderbolt drive.

    As a test I'm about to try this on my 2011 17" MBP. I have a 512GB Crucial M4 internal and a 256GB Crucial M4 in a GoFlex case connected with the GoFlex TB adapter.
     
  6. macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2012
    #6
    But what I was thinking was, if you don't use the last TB, or is it hardware related?
     
  7. macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jul 21, 2011
    #7
    It's separate from partition size. Bios booting with boot camp only supports MBR, which is limited to 2.2TB. So even if you changed the partition size you would only be able to use up to 2.2TB total, no matter how many partitions.
     
  8. macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2012
    #8
    Does that mean it would be possible to choose to only use 2tb of the 3tb disk in order to get bootcamp working?

    2tb is still better than 1tb :)
     
  9. macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Dec 14, 2006
    Location:
    Toronto, Canada
    #9
    You cannot install Bootcamp on an external drive, it simply does not allow that. OSX you can run off an external drive but not Windows. This is due to a limitation imposed by Microsoft.
     
  10. macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jul 21, 2011
    #10
    Would need to test it.. Boot to ML installer, Attempt to format the drive with a single MBR partition of 2TB. If that works then install ML. Once ML is installed you could then run Boot Camp and see if it will create the Windows partition and run the install. There are some other manual tricks people are doing with hackintosh but that's a completely different boot loader and doesn't use boot camp.

    ----------

    Windows doesn't boot off of a USB or FireWire drive but it will boot from ThunderBolt. Boot Camp will not install Windows to an external ThunderBolt drive, however; you can run boot camp normally and install Windows to the internal drive and then winclone the boot camp partition to an external thunderbolt drive. There are people with iMacs running both OS X and Windows off of external thunderbolt drives. Best way to upgrade to an SSD without having to rip open your iMac. :)
     
  11. KhrisGarcia, Dec 6, 2012
    Last edited: Dec 6, 2012

    macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jul 21, 2011
    #11


    The makers of winclone have a new tutorial out showing how to use boot camp with a 3TB hard drive.

    Installing Windows via Boot Camp on a large (2.2 TB or larger ) Drive in Lion (10.7) and later
     
  12. macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jul 21, 2011
    #12
    I just tried this and it works.

    1. Use Boot Camp Assistant to install Windows 7 on your internal hard drive
    2. Boot into Windows and install the Apple support drives for Windows 7
    3. Power off Windows and connect your external ThunderBolt hard drive
    4. Boot into Windows and allow Windows to install the ThunderBolt drivers (Note: The reason we reboot here is because Windows cannot recognize a ThunderBolt device unless it's connected at power on)
    5. Reboot into Mac OS X
    6. Create a Winclone image of the Boot Camp partition
    7. Open Disk Utility and create a new FAT partition on your external ThunderBolt hard drive
    8. While in Disk Utility, remove the Boot Camp partition from your internal hard drive and expand the Mac OS X partition back to full size
    8. Open Winclone and restore the Boot Camp image to the new partition on your external ThunderBolt Drive
    9. Restart the computer and boot into Windows by holding down alt/option
    10. Let Windows check the disk for consistancy (Note: When the disk check finishes it will reboot automatically so be ready to press alt/option so you can select Windows. If you miss it and it boots back into Mac OS X no biggie, just restart and hold alt/option again)
    11. You're done... Now just don't try to move the ThunderBolt drive around while using Windows. If it disconnects it'll lock up and you'll have to forcefully reboot by holding down the power button.
     
  13. hfg
    macrumors 68030

    hfg

    Joined:
    Dec 1, 2006
    Location:
    Cedar Rapids, IA. USA
    #13
  14. macrumors member

    blendermf

    Joined:
    Sep 21, 2010
    Location:
    Stratford, ON
    #14
    Oh thank god. I have a 2011 iMac with a 2TB drive that is completely borked, and it may need to be replaced completely, and I rely on Bootcamp, and already have more than 1 TB of data I need on the internal drive. This means I can finally follow through on this.
     
  15. macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Dec 10, 2011
    #15
  16. macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jul 21, 2011
    #16
    The only option for a simple solution would be for Apple to update their implementation of EFI and make it so that Boot Camp works with 3TB drives out of the box.

    From another thread:

    Thunderbolt is an expensive option but if you absolutely need the space I'd recommend using the workaround and running Windows off an external Thunderbolt drive while using the entire 3TB for Mac OS X... or wait until Apple supports it out of the box. :)
     
  17. macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Dec 10, 2011
    #17
    I agree
     
  18. macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jul 21, 2011
    #18
    According to the Fusion FAQ you can only create one additional partition on the fusion drive. Since unallocated space is not a new partition you might be able to shrink the fusion partition and then run the Boot Camp Assistant. The problem is that according to the FAQ you wouldn't be able to create the data only partition using Disk Utility. Being stuck with 2TB out of 3TB is still better 1TB. Also, the 3TB disk would be faster due to the platters and density.

    Assuming the fusion drive could be resized and Boot Camp worked, you could clone Boot Camp to an external Thunderbolt drive then resize the fusion partition back to full.
     
  19. hfg
    macrumors 68030

    hfg

    Joined:
    Dec 1, 2006
    Location:
    Cedar Rapids, IA. USA
    #19
    Yes that is correct ... using the Fusion system, only 1 additional partition (BootCamp) can be created and it will be on the hard disk, but not the 3TB size due to Microsoft limitations.

    Using the technique presented in the WinClone blog linked above, I believe it is possible to re-create the Fusion join to make use of the partitioned hard disk. It is similar to what I have already done with a 2011 Mac Mini to put the BootCamp on a SSD partition, and use the remaining OS X space on the SSD as part of the Fusion drive. I am using a 256GB SSD there and it works fine with the DIY Fusion SSD/HD drive and a BootCamp partition on the SSD.

    I would try it to see, but I really have no interest in running my Windows at hard disk speeds anymore ... not when I can have it at SSD speeds. It does require a larger SSD (for both operating systems) than is offered with the iMac at this time (128GB), but there may be options for larger SSDs in the future for upgrades.

    -howard
     
  20. macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jul 21, 2011
    #20
    This sounds like something I'd be interested in doing... iMac or not. I have a 1TB drive that I could put into my MBP's optical bay and based on what you're saying I could put a small Windows partition on the 512GB SSD and use the remaining space along with my internal 1TB for fusion. This would bring everything inside the MacBook, making it feel more portable again. Otherwise I might as well have bought an iMac, which I still might do. ;-)
     
  21. hfg
    macrumors 68030

    hfg

    Joined:
    Dec 1, 2006
    Location:
    Cedar Rapids, IA. USA
    #21
    Yes, that would work great for you. If you already have your SSD divided with a Windows partition and a OS X partition, you are almost there. Back up your OSX data, then follow the guides posted numerous times here to build your "Fusion" drive. Only, when you specify the disks to join in Terminal ... use the disk-partition-ID for the SSD and the disk-ID for the hard disk. Then re-install OS X on the "Fusion" drive and pull your environment from your backup to be back where you were.

    You will find posts I made on the Fusion discussions on how to do it, and screen shots of the resulting disk map after it was done.

    Good luck...

    -howard
     
  22. AvC
    macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Dec 25, 2012
    #22
    A quite detailed instruction, but for some reason I don't get it working. I follow it step-by-step and I did see that Windows installed Thunderbolt drivers, but at the end, there's at the restart no Thunderbolt BOOTCAMP drive available.

    I've got no idea why the Thunderbolt doesn't show up in the Mac boot menu after I held the Alt/Option key.

    Do you have perhaps some or a suggestion?

    Kind regards,
    Angelique van Campen



     
  23. macrumors 68000

    Joined:
    Dec 8, 2009
    Location:
    Sydney, Australia
    #23
    Not true, i have Windows installed on my 3TB fusion iMac ;) Plenty of guides on how to do it on the net.
     
  24. macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jul 21, 2011
    #24
    Out of curiosity, when you restored the boot camp partition to the external using winclone did you select the option to replace the BCD file?
     
  25. macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Feb 19, 2013
    #25
    Thanks a lot for taking the time and sharing this. I have followed this step by step and was able to move windows 7 64-bit partition onto external buffalo ministation thunderbolt ssd. So far I have only tested it with my macbook pro 13'' retina, but i have all reasons to believe it will work with any other thunderbolt mac. Just waiting for my new imac to arrive and will comment if it works with it.

    Experience of running windows from external thunderbolt ssd is great so far. I only use windows for some games though, so not sure if it's good for everyone.

    The only downside of this method (which isn't really a concern for me now that it all works) is that I had to buy Winclose from the official website for 20 bucks. I only used the latest version from developer's website and have no clue if other (older or cr----d) versions work for this solution.
     

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