Bootcamp Windows 7 externally using thunderbolt drive?

Discussion in 'Windows, Linux & Others on the Mac' started by KOTULCN, Oct 14, 2013.

  1. KOTULCN macrumors 6502

    Jun 14, 2012
    I've been scouring the internet to find a way to install bootcamp on an external disk. I've come across a couple articles saying this is possible if you use a thunderbolt Buffalo Ministation. The issue I'm seeing is that in order to use Winclone to restore Windows you have to run sysprep prior to cloning windows which strips the thunderbolt drivers you installed when you plugged ministation into windows. Am I missing something? Have any of you been able to get a windows bootcamp running off a thunderbolt external?
  2. omvs macrumors 6502

    May 15, 2011
    Why do you have to run sysprep?

    When I put Win7 on my external thunderbolt drive (Seagate goflex adapter), here's what I did:

    1> Installed to internal drive via bootcamp
    2> Used winclone to save off a image
    3> Removed the bootcamp partition from internal drive (or reformat the partition so it doesn't look like a windows drive anymore)
    4> Restored image to thunderbolt drive via Winclone

    Step #3 was necessary because otherwise the windows boot loader seemed to get confused by 2 drives with the same ID - maybe thats a problem sysprep solves.

    NOTE: The last time I tried this was over a year ago -- since then I remounted the external drive internal to my iMac.
  3. KOTULCN thread starter macrumors 6502

    Jun 14, 2012
    After you install bootcamp and before you make a clone you booted into windows and plugged in thunderbolt external and vetoed drivers were installed and drive is functional correct?
  4. omvs macrumors 6502

    May 15, 2011
    Hmm - thinking back, I probably did have the enclosure hooked up when I booted into windows. But my enclosure didn't require its own driver disk - any drivers either came from windows or the bootcamp drivers. So if the ministration has separate drivers that could be different enough that my technique wouldn't work.
  5. KOTULCN thread starter macrumors 6502

    Jun 14, 2012
    I will have to try
  6. KOTULCN thread starter macrumors 6502

    Jun 14, 2012
    BADASS!! Just installed Samsung 830 SSD in Buffalo Ministation thunderbolt and followed your instructions an voila Windows booting off it! Thank you!!
  7. marzer macrumors 65816


    Nov 14, 2009
    Just to relay my experience on a late 2012 iMac-I just recently installed Windows 8 to an external Samsung 830 SSD connected via a Seagate TB adapter: Using Bootcamp Assistant to prep the system, set the minimum Bootcamp partition size to 20GB. Rebooted into the Windows install, cleared all partitions from the external SSD drive, then selected it as the install location, performed the full install. Booted into Windows on the external SSD, activated Windows, made sure everything was running fine including Bootcamp drivers, performed all pending Windows updates. Rebooted into OS X and using Disk Utility deleted the 20GB Bootcamp partition on the internal and reallocated the space back to OS X.
  8. xsasha92x, Jan 1, 2014
    Last edited: Jan 1, 2014

    xsasha92x macrumors newbie


    Jun 24, 2011
    Massachusetts, US
    Would appreciate some feedback

    I would greatly appreciate some advice and feedback. I just ordered a late 2013 27" iMac with 3.5Ghz i7, gtx 780m, and 3TB Fusion Drive. While I love using Mac OS X for general use, I also use BootCamp for gaming and engineering software. I was just wondering if I will be able to install Windows 7, games, and engineering software onto an external Thunderbolt SSD and if it will operate the same as my MBP (bootcamp on same drive as mac os x). If someone could give me some insight on this, I would be very grateful. Also, suggestions for external thunderbolt ssd solutions would be much appreciated. The two that I have my eye on are a Samsung EVO SSD with an adapter or Lacie Little Big Disk. I would have gone with the pure SSD for my new iMac but I have a feeling that 512 won't be enough for both Mac OS X and Windows and the 1tb is a bit pricey and won't be enough for future documents.

    Other thoughts:
    What if I bought a Samsung EVO SSD and installed it in my 15" early 2011 MBP as an upgrade with three total partitions (Mac OS X, Bootcamp, and Bootcamp for iMac) and used a thunderbolt cable and target disk mode? I dunno how this would work but it would be so cool since I plan to use my new iMac as a monitor for my MBP on occasion.
  9. V a d macrumors newbie

    May 17, 2011
    I used the Lacie Rugged Thunderbolt+USB3 hard drive.

    It works about the same, but honestly having it cabled like that is a hassle. It make it more difficult to walk around, AND you can't put your computer to sleep because it stops talking to the drive and the computer turns off completely. Also those kind of connectors are really easy to unplug. I have accidentally unplugged mine at least twice, and the whole thing blue-screens requiring shutdown.

    But that being said, this is a really nice way to have a 1+ TB Windows computer with minimal space loss on your actual computer.

    PS. I used to use mine like that, but I reverted to internal-only just today.

    PS. I installed mine a little different than the other guys (i.e. without Winclone), and if you can't use the entire 1TB drive, post on here and I'll explain my way.

    Unfortunately doing it my way causes you to loose about 30 GB on your internal hard drive and requires having 2 copies of Windows. But the benefit is you will be able to use both the internal and external windows drives interchangeably.


  10. mangoschlango macrumors newbie

    Jan 15, 2014
    V a d, how did you manage to get the rugged thunderbolt working in win7? I've tried using lacie drivers advised on the support without success. The drive just blink rapidly but doesn't show up in the device manager or anywhere else. But if I connect with USB3 it mounts instantly.

  11. apple_iBoy, Jan 26, 2014
    Last edited: Jan 26, 2014

    apple_iBoy macrumors 6502a

    Oct 28, 2003
    Philadelphia, PA
    I've tried transferring a Boot Camp installation from my internal SSD to a thunderbolt drive a number of times and haven't been successful with it yet.

    I think the problem is that I don't have an empty thunderbolt drive, so I've been transferring the winclone image to a Fat partition on a drive that also has a Mac journaled partition.

    Has anyone been able to move Windows to a partition on an already partially used drive and still keep it bootable? Any suggestions?

    I am thinking of purchasing a 3rd thunderbolt drive just for windows, but would prefer not to if I don't have to.


    Well, I did finally get it working. I cleared out the Thunderbolt drive in question (it was already backed up in Time Machine) and formatted it so that it had a Windows FAT partition first (I subsequently added the Mac Journaled Volume).

    I also realized that there was a version 4 of WinClone (I had had version 3.something). I got the latest update.

    I'm not sure which of the two steps above (sequence of partitions, or updated WinClone software) did the trick, but the good news is my internal SSD is now Windows-free and my Thunderbolt drive is booting into Windows 8.1 nicely, while still leaving room for all my previous Mac-related stuff on a separate partition.
  12. sigmoidx macrumors newbie

    Mar 23, 2014
    What if the size of disc is different?

    I have a question regarding to the hdd size.
    Let say we create a 40 GB internal bootcamp partition and want to move this to 1 TB external thunderbolt drive. Do I have to make a 40 GB partition within the 1 TB drive before Winclone restore on it? :confused:
  13. hfg macrumors 68040


    Dec 1, 2006
    Cedar Rapids, IA. USA
    No ... WinClone will transfer your Windows image to the larger drive and then expand it so that the environment will make full use of the larger drive size.
  14. OS X Dude macrumors 6502a

    OS X Dude

    Jun 30, 2007
    I'm about to put an SSD in my MacBook Pro and need WinClone to copy my Boot Camp partition. As it's migrating to the same computer, just a different storage drive, do I need to run SysPrep beforehand?
  15. omvs macrumors 6502

    May 15, 2011
    I've never run SysPrep as part of a winclone migration. Just did one about a week ago on my iMac. The only time I might had to do anything weird was years ago when I migrated windows from internal drive to external thunderbolt -- at that time, I had to remove the partition off the internal drive before the external windows would boot -- since then I haven't had two drives in the system at the same time with windows partitions, so not sure if it'd still be necesary (was using WinClone 2.x)
  16. OS X Dude macrumors 6502a

    OS X Dude

    Jun 30, 2007
    Thanks for that :) It says you need to in the official instructions/tutorial but only for new system migrations. It basically wipes the drivers so you don't get a conflict on a new machine, which is why it seemed a bit pointless to me on the same machine.

  17. ajbrutico macrumors newbie

    Jun 3, 2011
    North Jersey

    I followed the posts on this thread and got Windows 8.1 working like a charm.....except:

    Occasionally the Windows system will randomly reboot, and when I hit option, the Bootcamp partition keeps disappearing and then re-appearing. The animation is like when you drag something off your dock - the Windows drive disappears in a puff of smoke, returns and then disappears again.

    Anyone ever see anything like this? any ideas where to start? I already plugged the drive into a different Thunderbolt port - no Dice. Sometimes it won't happen at all.

    Im using new Mac Pro and Kingston 240GB SSDnow Drive attaches to a Seagate Thunderbolt adapter.
  18. Frozone9 macrumors member

    Oct 21, 2014
    Zürich, Switzerland
    This worked perfect on my retina iMac with an Lacie Rugged Thunderbolt.
    Did not need any extra Program like winclone, as I installed win7 directly to external SSD.
  19. Techtrender macrumors newbie

    Nov 7, 2014
    Just curious, can Bootcamp install windows on a large (128GB or 256GB) flash memory stick via USB 3.0?
  20. Cheule macrumors member

    Mar 28, 2009
    No, because of the USB. Currently Bootcamp only works to internal partitions and drives, not external. That's why thunderbolt sometimes works, the system sees it as internal in some cases.
  21. espnfanco macrumors newbie

    Dec 9, 2014
    I was able to install Windows 8.1 on an external SSD TB drive via bootcamp on a 2013 iMac, however after I went back to OSX, I am unable to load up windows. I tried restarting pressing option and going to the lacie drive, but all it wants to do is reinstall windows. Anyone have experience with this?
  22. yjchua95 macrumors 604

    Apr 23, 2011
    GVA, KUL, MEL (current), ZQN
    In my case, I didn't use Boot Camp Assistant, I used my own method and managed to get it running on either USB or Thunderbolt, booting in UEFI.

    Connect external drive to Windows VM. You must have a Windows VM in VMware/Parallels.

    What you need:
    install.wim file (obtain this from your Windows ISO)

    Open elevated cmd.exe

    Note: All commands aren't case sensitive, including pathway to files.

    Type diskpart
    Type list disk
    Take note of the disk you want to select
    Type select disk 1 (if your disk is Disk 1)
    Type clean
    Type convert gpt
    Type create partition EFI size=100
    Type format quick fs=fat32 label=EFI
    Type assign letter=S
    Type create partition primary
    Type format fs=ntfs quick label=W2G (or any other name you wish for label)
    Type assign letter=E
    Type exit

    Open up File Explorer. In your C drive, create a new folder named WIN2GO.
    Put the install.wim file in this folder

    Back in cmd.exe:
    Type dism /apply-image /imagefile:C:\WIN2GO\install.wim /index:1 /applydir:E:\ (this process will take quite a while)
    Type E:\Windows\System32\bcdboot E:\Windows /s S: /f UEFI

    Restart your entire Mac. After the chime, hold down Option and when prompted to select your boot drive, select EFI Boot.

    Proceed installation normally.

    After installation, install Boot Camp drivers.
  23. espnfanco macrumors newbie

    Dec 9, 2014
    Thank you for your post. I will try this as a last resort if I can't get boot camp assistant to work.


    How did you boot into Windows on the external SSD? I was able to install windows 8.1 on the ssd using bootcamp assistant. I held down option as I restarted and clicked on the lacie drive and it loads up as install mode.
  24. Frozone9 macrumors member

    Oct 21, 2014
    Zürich, Switzerland
    I think you just created a Win Install Drive on Your external SSD, and did not install Windows there. Bootcamp does not install Windows for you. It only partitions your drive and creates a install USB.
  25. yjchua95 macrumors 604

    Apr 23, 2011
    GVA, KUL, MEL (current), ZQN
    That's why I use dism to deploy the install.wim file onto the desired drive, so that when I boot from it, it goes into setup (setting up account and personalizing settings) straight away.

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