Booting From External Drive

Discussion in 'iMac' started by vkronlein, Jun 22, 2015.

  1. vkronlein macrumors newbie


    Jun 22, 2015
    I'm trying to decide whether to replace an existing hard drive on an iMac 10,1 27inch.

    I'd much prefer to replace this drive with an external drive as I can get a tremendously bigger drive and the portability of having the OS external.

    What I don't understand is that I keep reading that USB 2.0 is very slow in reading and writing files, but none of the articles I've found specifies whether this applies to the computer USB port, the external drive port, or both.

    The iMac has 4 USB 2.0 ports, but the external drive uses USB 3.0.

    I'm assuming that both ports need to be 3.0 but I can't find any verification on this. It doesn't need to be super fast, but I don't want it to be super slow either.

    So my question is, can I effectively run an iMac booting from an eternal drive when the computer runs USB 2.0 and the external drive runs USB 3.0?
  2. Flynnstone macrumors 65816


    Feb 25, 2003
    Cold beer land
    I have a 2009 iMac. I replaced the internal drive quite a few years ago. 640G to 2T.
    I'd use the firewire 800 port over USB.
    Perhaps a dual external drive arrangement , a SSD & a regular big drive.
    I only use usb for my backup drives.
    About USB, think lowest common denominator USB2 with USB 3 = USB 2 or 480 mbit/s. FW800 = 800 mbit/s.
    You could boot from a usb 2 drive. I'm not sure it will be "enjoyable". Definitely slower that the internal drive.
    Hope that helps.
  3. vkronlein thread starter macrumors newbie


    Jun 22, 2015
    So just to clarify, I should look for an external drive that has a firewire port?

    I was looking at this external drive but it's USB 3.0/2.0 compatible only, no firewire.

    This box is being set up for my daughter who does a lot of music and videos (in a band) and having 5TB of storage would be awesome. Also of course being able to take the drive with her (partitioned for both OS and storage) would be extremely convenient.

    As long as it will work, I think it should be fine until I can afford a more elegant solution.

    What do you think?
  4. Flynnstone macrumors 65816


    Feb 25, 2003
    Cold beer land
    Try it. You should have 2 hard drives anyway. One for backups.
    So buy one & try it. If it's too slow and not usable, it becomes the backup drive. Then replace the internal.
    Here is a Firewire800 option
  5. Fishrrman macrumors G5


    Feb 20, 2009

    Firewire 800 will be faster than USB2 (even though the "maximum speed" of USB2 is supposedly higher).

    You don't have thunderbolt available?

    If you can use a screwdriver, you can "put together" your own drive, using a "bare drive" and an external enclosure of your choice. This takes only a couple of minutes.

    Why do it that way?
    Because -- since you put it together, you'll know what's inside, and if you ever have a problem, you'll know how to "get inside" if you have to.

    An enclosure you might consider:"+enclosure
    This offers both USB3 -and- firewire800 connection options. If at some point in the future you get a new Mac, the drive already has USB3 for faster speeds.

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