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Running Windows from a USB 3.0 drive?

Discussion in 'MacBook Air' started by PhazonUK, Jun 22, 2012.

  1. macrumors 6502

    I currently own the 128GB 2011 Air (64GB OSX, 64GB Win7) and am upgrading to the 2012 Air.
    I was wondering how well Windows would run if I were to install it onto an external USB 3 drive and buy the 64GB Air rather than buying the 128GB again.

    I'll be running the OS as well as Steam games from the drive and sometimes doing USB video capture onto the drive.
  2. macrumors G5


    I seriously doubt you would have anywhere near the required speed using USB3...Its's faster than 2, sure, but run an OS? Not enough speed there.
  3. Moderator


    Staff Member

    To my knowledge, I don't think you can easily install windows on a usb drive. I think it may require some level of hacking.

    Personally even with the faster speeds of USB 3, it will be too slow to be feasible.

    Not quite the same thing but I tried running windows under vmware from a FW800 drive and found it frustratingly slow.
  4. macrumors G5



    I've tried running a stripped down version of Ubuntu from a USB2 drive...It's pretty useless, and that's a minimal OS to say the least...USb is just not designed for booted Operating System use.
  5. macrumors 6502

    Cool. Thanks for the replies.
  6. macrumors G4

    If you get an SSD and put it inside a USB enclosure, it should work just fine. I tested a 160GB Intel 320 SSD and was getting read and write speeds of about 150Mpbs. Granted, under Thunderbolt I was getting closer to 250Mbps, but 150Mpbs is faster than most hard drives.

    A USB 3.0 enclosure is about $15-20, and you can get SATA II SSDs for about $1/GB now. The usual $ to £ conversion may apply, but even so, it should be doable. You can set up Windows on an external drive using Boot Camp.
  7. macrumors 6502a

    I can't speak of the technical feasibility, AKA will Boot Camp let you install to an external drive, but I can speak and say that USB 2 and obviously USB 3 work just fine for running an OS externally. I've done it for years, whenever a seed of an upcoming OS X version was released, I'd fire up an external USB2 drive, install on that, and then be able to easily choose which drive (and OS) I'd like to boot to at power-on.
  8. macrumors member

    I've installed Win 7 on a Parallels VM on a USB 3.0 drive, it's obviously not as fast as the internal SSD but it's perfectly useable for light tasks. Saves room on my SSD.
  9. macrumors 68040


    works fine with Boot camp. Just follow the prompts...

    oh...you will need an iso image

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