Bootcamp On External SSD?

Discussion in 'Windows, Linux & Others on the Mac' started by MBX, Feb 1, 2018.

  1. MBX macrumors 68000

    Joined:
    Sep 14, 2006
    #1
    Hi there

    Is there any way to boot Bootcamp/ Windows off a external SSD? Instead of internal partition?
     
  2. expede macrumors regular

    expede

    Joined:
    Jan 15, 2018
    Location:
    Sweden
    #2
    Hi!

    It depends on what Mac you have. I got a Mac Pro 5.1 and have one SSD with Windows 10 and one with OSX. My suggestion is that you search the "Youtube" for Booting of a external drive/USB+Win 10 and then you will find.



    Best regards

    /Per
     
  3. westrock2000 macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Oct 18, 2013
    #3
    Just used the VirtualBox route and a Monster Digital 240GB SSD Thunderbolt on a new Macbook Air. Zero Windows installation on the internal SSD and Windows installed and runs perfectly. And still have all USB ports available.

    The virtualbox trick is to make a file on your Mac that represents the virtual harddrive. Except you tell Virtualbox, from the command line, to direct all writes to that file to instead go to a raw harddisk (in this case the external Thunderbolt drive). You start up Virtualbox with the Windows 10 ISO DVD image loaded and go through the install sequence. At the end, it will say Windows needs to reboot and that's where you pause Virtualbox. Kill Virtualbox, shutdown the Mac and hold Option when rebooting. The external harddrive will now show as a bootable drive and because it's Thunderbolt, it will be seen as a 100% legit SATA drive. No need to dick around with Windows to "force" it to work on a USB drive. Oh, first you need to run the Bootcamp Wizard to copy the Mac drivers over to a FAT formatted USB stick, which you will need after Windows installs and boots. Everything works perfectly after that, WiFi, trackpad, etc.

    $150 for a 240GB SSD Thunderbolt drive is a damn fine deal.
    https://www.amazon.com/Monster-Digi...8477455&sr=8-1&keywords=monster+digital+240gb

    Instructions over at OWC/Macsales
    https://blog.macsales.com/40947-tech-tip-how-to-use-boot-camp-on-an-external-drive
    --- Post Merged, Feb 12, 2018 ---
    Booting from the Monster Thunderbolt SSD

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
  4. Cycling Asia macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2016
    #4
    I tried the virtual box method but Windows refused to load onto the GPT "formatted" SSD. So I installed bootcamp as per normal (on the internal SSD), then booted into Windows.

    Within Windows, I used disparted to "format" the SSD (GPT partitioning, 200MB fat32 EFI partition, and the rest as NTFS partition) then used winToUSB (free version) to copy Windows onto the external SSD. Once complete, I returned to macOS and removed bootcamp from the internal SSD.

    There are several very good articles on the net to do this.
     
  5. fathergll macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Sep 3, 2014
    #5
    I have a 2014 Retina Fusion iMac and I tried the instructions in that article on my Samsung USB 3 drive and no dice. I got up to the part "Kill Virtualbox, shutdown the Mac and hold Option when rebooting." When hold down option key I got the open to boot into windows and then I couldn't get any further. I couldn't remember exactly the error message as this was a few days ago but it was a black DOS screen and said something about not being able to read and "press any key to exit" which didn't let me exit so I had to manually reboot. After looking into the comments the USB 3 method is choked full of issues which I don't even want to mess around with. I'm considering buying a Thunderbolt external and trying again.

    1. What type of speeds do you get with that Thunderbolt drive?

    2. The drive you posted from Amazon is a great deal. I'm trying to decide to go for that or just spend the money on a bigger drive. I kind of hate getting drives on the smaller side and then realizing they are a bit small long term. Just to be clear when using the Thunderbolt method are you able to read additional external drives? For example i should be able to boot into windows and then plug in my external Samsung USB 3 drive and read it? Also which OS are you using? Sierra or High Sierra?
     
  6. westrock2000 macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Oct 18, 2013
    #6
    Here are some pictures of benchmark on the Thunderbolt SSD as well as copy speed moving files from USB3 to Thunderbolt. The USB3 is a Samsung 840 Pro 256GB, though the USB3 enclosure is not a high performance enclosure.

    This is on most up to date OSX, High Sierra.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
  7. fathergll macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Sep 3, 2014
    #7

    Thats pretty decent speeds. Thanks for checking. Thats a viable solution. I'm trying to think if i should get the 256GB drive you posted which is the best deal or go for a 512GB one https://www.amazon.com/Transcend-51...ywords=Transcend+StoreJet+500+Thunderbolt+SSD But if I have external storage it's probably not an issue anyway with the 256gb
     
  8. fathergll macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Sep 3, 2014
    #8


    Ok I purchased 240gb Thunderbolt you listed and I ran into the exact same error as I had when trying to do this with USB3 SSD. This is definitely not an easy method as I think I have spent 8 hours already over 2 separate days trying to get this to work between the USB3 SSD and now the Thunderbolt SSD. The issue is that when I reboot MacOS and hold option key to boot into Windows it does recognize that there is a Windows installation on the external but I get a black DOS screen with the error “no bootable device – insert boot disk and press any key”. I’m stuck in this windows and have to hit the power button to exit.


    I followed the instructions closely. I was able to create the bootcamp.vmdk using terminal. I was able to launch Virtual Box and have it install Windows 10 to the external SSD and I exited the installed before the automatic reboot started. Looking through the comments it states you much enable EFI in the virtualbox settings and that the drive MUST be formatted using GUID, not MBR. this will set up the EFI partition that will be required. I’ll see if I can try this tonight. This is definitely a lot more work than I imagined. Hopefully I can get this to work but it amazing how many comments show that there are lots of issues with this. I am using a 2014 iMac fusion drive. Next iMac is going to be a huge SSD so I can avoid this because while I might be able to get this to work at some point I can see this is a very flimsy method that might break depending on either MacOS updates or Windows updates. It seems like a very cool method if you can get it working.
     
  9. westrock2000 macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Oct 18, 2013
    #9
    When you enable EFI, Windows should default to GUID partition. It will make like 4 different partitions (3 small ones, 1 big one). Be sure to completely wipe out the MBR partitions during setup. So it’s all unformatted or unallocated space. Then hit new and it should chop it up automatically.
     
  10. fathergll macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Sep 3, 2014
    #10

    I couldn't get it the EFI part working.

    Basically I had to resort to this video and purchase Winclone which is a lot easier but even with that it wasn't completely easy. Basically you are installing bootcamp on your Mac's internal drive, then you use Winclone to copy it over to the external thunderbolt drive and then you delete the Bootcamp partition on your Mac. The neat thing is you can save an image of your Windows image so you can restore easy.

    Note if anyone is following instructions from the below video you might need to do the following if you get a blue window with a recovery error ..... the last step before you launch into bootcamp on your thunderbolt drive is to make sure you right click your bootcamp partition "Make EFI Bootable"

    Anyway at least it's working now and its quite fast.

     
  11. westrock2000 macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Oct 18, 2013
    #11
    Glad you we're able to get it working! What I ended up doing was making a 20GB partition on the Thunderbolt drive that is exFAT. Then I can copy stuff to it from either OS.

    You can "shrink" the Windows partition now that it's setup. Do it through Computer Management -> Disk Management.
     
  12. fathergll macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Sep 3, 2014
    #12

    Thats an interesting idea. I'm probably just going to do is rely on a USB3 Samsung 2TB drive and purchase Paragon HSF+ for $20. I've been testing it in trial and it's working really well. So i pretty much have all my files/videos/music/docs..etc on the USB3 drive if I want to access it in either OS.
     
  13. Cycling Asia macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2016
    #13
    For those considering a purchase of Winclone (mentioned above), you can do cloning of the bootcamp installed Windows partition using the free version of winToUSB. Helps save a bit of money.
     
  14. fathergll macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Sep 3, 2014
    #14

    Does this work over thunderbolt? or just USB?
     
  15. Cycling Asia macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2016
    #15

Share This Page

14 February 1, 2018