running windows 7 from usb drive

Discussion in 'MacBook Air' started by mhuk01, Feb 13, 2011.

  1. macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Jul 5, 2006
    Location:
    South West England
    #1
    Hi

    I have a macbook air ultimate and would like to occasionally be able to run windows 7 on boot camp. However obviously space is at a premium and there is no way i can store windows 7 on the internal ssd.

    Is it possible and if so is there a guide somewhere for installing windows 7 onto a usb thumb drive and booting from it with boot camp? I know the boot camp installation process leads to partitioning the internal drive by default, which i dont want to do.

    Any help would be greatly appreciated.
    thanks
     
  2. macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    May 3, 2010
    #2
    Easiest solution for this. Run Windows 7 in a virtual machine with the image stored on an external drive. The MBA is fast enough for it.
     
  3. thread starter macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Jul 5, 2006
    Location:
    South West England
    #3
    this is indeed an option (which i will use if no one can help me with bootcamp). however considering the speed at which the macbook air can reboot, it would be great to go the bootcamp route if possible, as although virtual machines are fast, they can never match booting the OS natively.
     
  4. macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Aug 29, 2006
    Location:
    Suffolk, UK
    #4
    Im not entirely sure how it works, but surely if your running the virtual disk from a memory stick then the having the speed of an SSD makes little difference as you will getting USB transfer rates?

    So while it would save space, how will it be any fast?
     
  5. macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Nov 9, 2007
    #5
    also interested to see if this is possible, although I would want to run it from an external HDD occasionally.

    Do you not just get a choice when you install bootcamp/windows where you install? Then just choose the external drive as the install destination?
     
  6. thread starter macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Jul 5, 2006
    Location:
    South West England
    #6
    no there isn't an option for that. the only official way through bootcamp is to partition the internal drive.

    i still believe bootcamp is the desired choice as it will get better performance than through a virtual machine.
     
  7. macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Feb 23, 2010
    Location:
    Virginia
    #7
    I suspect that you're going to find that running from a USB drive is rather slow, whether it's dual booted or via VM.

    Here's an article that describes installing additional OSs without using BootCamp. I haven't tried this, and I don't know if Windows will recognize a USB Drive at install time, but it may help.

    http://lifehacker.com/#!5531037/how...-with-windows-and-linux-no-boot-camp-required
     
  8. macrumors 68040

    Joined:
    Jul 1, 2004
    #8
    I remember seeing that there was a way to get windows to install and run from a usb hard drive, but it involved hacking the installation process for windows. The problem is that the USB drivers get loaded too late in the boot process and so windows wouldn't boot at all. Bootcamp needed to be set up with a few drivers and then pointed at the USB drive to continue.

    Like I said, there was a lot of hacking and I read very few success stories.

    In the end, I think it's more trouble than it's worth.

    A quick google search turned up this: MacRumors Guide, Some Blog
     
  9. macrumors member

    Joined:
    Nov 23, 2007
    #9
    Why not go Boot Camp?

    >I have a macbook air ultimate and would like to occasionally be able to run windows 7 on boot camp.
    >However obviously space is at a premium and there is no way i can store windows 7 on the internal ssd.

    I have your same configuration and Win7 works fine on the internal ssd, installed in a 34GB Win7 partition with only 14.75GB used. This leaves 87GB for the Macintosh HD partition. With Paragon NTFS for Mac OS X installed, the 19.25GB free in the Win7 partition is also available for Mac OS X to use.
     
  10. hfg, Feb 14, 2011
    Last edited: Feb 14, 2011

    hfg
    macrumors 68030

    hfg

    Joined:
    Dec 1, 2006
    Location:
    Cedar Rapids, IA. USA
    #10
    I have a OWC 120GB ssd as a dual boot in my Mac Pro which is divided in half for OS X and Windows 7 Professional. However my Home (User) directory with all my personal data, photos, music, etc. is on another RAID-0 Drive for OS X, and I will be moving the Windows home directory over to a 300GB VelociRaptor drive when I get time.

    With 60GB available for each OS:
    OS X has 40GB available space
    Windows 7 has 16GB available space

    Windows 7 is pretty much just a standard install at this point ... no additional application programs.

    OS X is pretty well loaded with applications.

    This may give you a feel for installation size on the 128GB Air ssd.

    -howard
     
  11. 2IS
    macrumors 68030

    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2011
    #11
    Yeah, getting it to work off a usb stick using bootcamp certainly isn't a straight forward process. I tried it once and it began to load but as soon as Windows tried to initialize the USB ports I got a BSOD.

    Putting a VM image on a USB stick or HDD is easy enough and should work. You won't get the speed but it would work.

    As far as install size is concerned, I partitioned my Win7 with 20GB. I don't have any personal data on there and I have about 2.5GB of free space left. This is with all the updates and a couple apps like Adobe reader, java and flash installed.
     
  12. macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Apr 12, 2009
    Location:
    Sydney, Australia
    #12
    You're going to find that the performance hit you take in running it from the USB stick is equatable to the performance hit it takes in the VM.

    Depending on why you need Windows, my suggestion would be to eschew Windows 7 entirely and install an XP virtual machine. The system requirements are lower for XP than 7, both as far as the processor and the amount of RAM you need go, and both Parallels and VMWare have better support for XP than Windows 7 given how long XP has been around.

    I have an XP virtual machine in Parallels 6 which I use for gaming and much of the time I can get near-native performance with it. It also only needs 2 gigs of RAM to perform well, whereas 2 gigs of RAM is a minimum requirement just to get Windows 7 running.
     

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