Install and run OS X 10.6.8 on usb drive

Discussion in 'macOS' started by ryanEM3, Aug 28, 2011.

  1. ryanEM3 macrumors newbie

    Aug 22, 2011
    Hey guys,

    I did a little bit of research on this topic before posting but couldn't find any good tutorials.

    So I am wondering if it's possible to format a 32GB usb flash drive (or SDHC card) as GUID and install snow leopard (10.6.8) on it as if it was an SSD hard. Has anyone had any experience doing this?

    Now the reason I want to do this is that I have purchased a new hard drive for my macbook pro (mid-2009) and I have two Dental school testing programs on my old drive that can't be transferred anywhere else because they can only be installed on one machine and only once. So I was thinking that if I clone my hard and create a bootable version on a USB or SD card then I could just have it with me anywhere I go and use it on any computer by just booting from it.

    Any ideas?

    By the way, I am planning on using either SuperDuper! or CCC for the cloning.

  2. Intell macrumors P6


    Jan 24, 2010
    It works. But it isn't the fastest. You could even use a 16Gb drive.
  3. ryanEM3 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Aug 22, 2011
    Thanks for the reply.

    Faster compared to what? Although speed isn't really an issue for me as long as I can get the exam software to work without having to pay for activation again.
  4. ufkdo macrumors 6502

    Oct 30, 2010
    Most 32 GB USB sticks reads/writes around 20 mb/s. It's slower than a 5400 rpm hdd, way slower than 7200 rpm hdd and pathetic as compared to SSD.
  5. ryanEM3 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Aug 22, 2011
    I understand. I wasn't really looking for the fastest option.

    How about creating a virtual machine in virtualbox from a cloned drive?

    That is another option since my new hard is a 500GB 7200rpm drive.
  6. Ice-Cube macrumors 6502a


    Jul 27, 2006
    Somewhere over the rainbow
    For your needs I would suggest getting a external firewire drive instead. Its faster than USB and a lot more durable compared to usb sticks. Besides, you can partition the external drive and use the other half for storage.
  7. GS Owner macrumors member

    Apr 30, 2009
    Harrisburg, PA
    Interesting read.

    For "stuff" & Giggles I was thinking of putting Lion on one of my 32GB USB Flash Drives.
    Now I know I can do it.

    And for the record: When I DO start up Lion on my Internal drive, I usually play a quick game while the modem wakes up from Sleep. That's what really slows me down: Waiting for the modem to wake up.:rolleyes:
  8. SookieSam, Aug 29, 2011
    Last edited: Aug 29, 2011

    SookieSam macrumors newbie

    Aug 24, 2011
    Victoria, British Columbia
    Hello ryanEM3,

    Will SL fit within 32GB? I don't know what the size of a vanilla install of 10.6.x is.

    This proprietary software that your using ... there should be a provision that will allow you to reinstall these applications on your new hard drive without you having to pay again inorder to use them. (hard drives fail all the time)

    As far as the cloning of registered/proprietary software goes, this is hit and miss. Some software companies will allow you to do this and others won't. I know that Microsoft and Adobe are forgiving in this regard. It's been my experience that specialty (vertical market) software is not.

    What would I do if I were you? I think I would opt for an external USB "real" hard drive. With FireWire, you may end up playing games with what ever port type is available on the particular Mac you want to plug into.

    As an aside, you can create a bootable clone of your hard drive using the Disk Utility program on your MacOSX installation disc that came with your Macintosh computer.


  9. blueroom macrumors 603


    Feb 15, 2009
    Toronto, Canada
    I've installed SL on a USB drive and a class 10 SDHC card. Both were 16GB and both dirt slow but functional (barely, lots of pinwheels). An external USB 5400RPM drive was much faster and FW800 feels about the same as the internal stock 5400 Hitachi in a 2010 MBP.
  10. ryanEM3 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Aug 22, 2011
    It was not easy to fit it on my 16GB Sandisk Cruzer Contour. I used CCC and excluded a lot of folders and applications to shrink it down from 130GB to 13GB.

    As for the software, I had contacted the company about it and they said that I would have to pay a $30 fee for a new activation key. So I figured I would give it a shot before I had to cough up the money.

    As far as functionality, the software seems to be working and no registration warnings yet. Although SL is sluggish but it will do for now until I get an external hard.

    You are right. I just cloned and installed it on my flash and it is really slow. Constant pinwheels but I just plan on using the testing software and nothing else.

    I haven't got a chance to install my new MBP hard but once I do, I will try the virtual machine route.

    Thank you guys for the reply.

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