Booting from/using a USB thumb drive and restricting access to internal drive

Discussion in 'macOS' started by InfiniteLoopy, Oct 21, 2015.

  1. InfiniteLoopy macrumors 6502

    Dec 14, 2010
    I've been using a home MacBook for work stuff for a while now and as I'll be starting afresh with El Capitan, I'd like to separate work and home stuff.

    My idea is to buy a USB thumbnail drive for work, install El Capitan on that, and boot into it when needed.
    I don't want another user or partition on my usual internal hard drive, I want to keep them both physically separate.

    This is a better option than using a USB external drive as:
    - no hard drive case and cable to carry around/get unplugged.
    - no noise/spinning parts
    - should be a little faster than a platter drive.

    Most work will be web based or document-based, so I'm guessing that 64GB would be enough.

    However, could the USB port (MacBook is USB2) get too hot?
    Will it be very slow to use compared to the internal drive?

    Finally, what I'd like to do is not even have the internal drive be accessible when booted into the USB system, mainly because I don't want distractions on it that are a problem with the current setup. Is it possible to have the internal drive simply not mount in that case?

    Any USB key recommendations?

  2. MacUser2525 macrumors 68000


    Mar 17, 2007
    An extremely fast USB stick and even then if you think that is going to be faster than spinning drive well I have bridge in Brooklyn for sale going cheap. What is really needed if you want hope in hell of it being anywhere close to respectable speed wise is external enclosure with SSD in it then you might have a chance of having something that will work properly with no spinning beach balls. That is doubtful though as the USB2 speed is really going to drag the SSD speed down to really slow levels in the 20-30mb/s range rather than a respectable 80-100 range that USB3 would give you that would compete really well with internal spinning drive perhaps even beating the internal.
  3. InfiniteLoopy thread starter macrumors 6502

    Dec 14, 2010
    Thanks for your response. I'm currently running off a USB2 hard drive (a clone) as a trial to see how slow it is. It is slower than the internal platter drive but once it's booted up, it seems OK.

    I've also discovered that as the internal drive is filevaulted, if I dismiss the password prompt at startup, the internal drive doesn't get mounted, which is quite ideal as I don't want to be able to access it when working.

    So my options are as follows:

    1 Create a second PARTITION on my internal drive and use that for work. Presumably, this will allow me to NOT have access to the main drive's content and when the work is finished, I can just format it.

    2 Get a USB2 thumbnail drive and use that for work: advantage being that I don't have to mess with my internal drive's partition.

    I'd still rather keep stuff separate (option 2). Apart from speed, is there a downside (USB port heat) to doing this? Daily tasks would be: MS Office, web, Skype, dropbox upload/download.

    How about this drive in 64GB:
    SanDisk Ultra Fit CZ43 64GB USB 3.0 Low-Profile Flash Drive Up To 130MB/s Read- SDCZ43-064G-G46

  4. Fishrrman macrumors P6


    Feb 20, 2009
    Just a thought, but --

    Wouldn't it be easier to create a separate "work ACCOUNT" on the MacBook?

    And then log in/log out for work, home, work, home, etc.?

    This will allow you to keep one OS, one set of applications, but completely "separated" data sets.

    Much easier than two separate DRIVES.

    You can use either CarbonCopyCloner or SuperDuper to create a bootable cloned backup of the internal drive, and thus have BOTH work/home accounts backed up at once, and easily accessible at any time.
  5. InfiniteLoopy thread starter macrumors 6502

    Dec 14, 2010
    What I think I'm actually going to do is have two partitions on the MacBook's internal drive.

    This will keep data separated as I want to keep my time clearly divided between the two purposes. As the home partition is filevaulted, I won't even be able to access it if I don't enter its encryption password.

    This is probably best option, no?
  6. MacUser2525 macrumors 68000


    Mar 17, 2007
    Yes second partition seems to be your best bet for it.

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5 October 21, 2015