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Boot iMac from an OS X Live DVD or USB thumb drive?

GameGuru38

macrumors regular
Original poster
Sep 7, 2009
146
9
Ohio
With Linux I love that I can boot from disc or USB so I can do some tests on the internal HDD and wondering if there is a way to do this with OS X so I can run a diagnostic on the HDD before attempting to install to it?
 

Weaselboy

Moderator
Staff member
Jan 23, 2005
31,126
10,866
California
With Linux I love that I can boot from disc or USB so I can do some tests on the internal HDD and wondering if there is a way to do this with OS X so I can run a diagnostic on the HDD before attempting to install to it?
https://support.apple.com/kb/DL1433

You can use the Apple tool at this link to make a recovery USB key. This is not a full OS installer, but just a small recovery utility that you can use to access things like Disk Utility and Terminal for troubleshooting.
 
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abhibeckert

macrumors 6502
Jun 2, 2007
277
340
Cairns, Australia
USB drives are damaged whenever you write to them, so it's not recommended to run a full OS X install on one.

It will work, but only for a while then you'll have to buy a new thumb drive. According to Wikipedia, how long it will last varies from "a few days" to "several hundred years" depending on your usage pattern.

Booting a normal OS X is probably closer to "a few days", which is why you should only really use the recovery feature - that is designed for thumb drives and won't wear it out too badly.

If you're frequently doing diagnostics/etc you should use a proper HDD or SSD in a USB enclosure. Or even better, thunderbolt.
 
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