Install Windows 7 Externally?

Discussion in 'Windows, Linux & Others on the Mac' started by bentom13, Jan 10, 2015.

  1. bentom13 macrumors member

    Joined:
    Nov 2, 2014
    #1
    **Bear in mind i am in the uk - but any help is much appreciated**

    I was wondering if there was anyway possible to install windows on an external HDD and use it on my 5K iMac?

    Also could i do it on a network device or would it have to be connected via USB?

    I have a 512GB SSD and need all of the space i can get really, therefore i don't want to install it via bootcamp onto the SSD.

    Also i am thinking about getting an external NAS devices, are there any recommendations under £100 - i am looking at a 2TB WD model that i can also connect my current external HDD to it.

    Thankyou in advance!
     
  2. yjchua95, Jan 10, 2015
    Last edited: Jan 10, 2015

    yjchua95 macrumors 604

    Joined:
    Apr 23, 2011
    Location:
    GVA, KUL, MEL (current), ZQN
    #2
    Windows 7 - nope. At least not over USB.

    Windows 8.1 - yes (the method below is for a UEFI installation of 8.1 in a USB/TB external drive).

    Instructions:

    Connect external drive to Windows VM. You must have a Windows VM in VMware/Parallels (or VirtualBox).

    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.
     
  3. Chippy99, Jan 10, 2015
    Last edited: Jan 10, 2015

    Chippy99 macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Apr 28, 2012
    #3
    Why do you say that? I am not saying you're wrong, I just don't understand.

    I have a late 2012 iMac with windows 7 that I boot on an external drive.

    Are you suggesting RiMac bootcamp doesn't support W7?
     
  4. biohead macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Jun 18, 2010
    Location:
    West Drayton, UK
    #5
    Of course you can install Windows 7 externally - its not quite as straightforward as Windows 8, and it does require a thunderbolt drive. It doesn't require a Windows VM.

    I bought a Buffalo Thunderbolt external, ripped out the spinning disk and put my own 480GB SSD in.

    You need to create a small Fat32 partition on your internal drive - you can either do this manually (and create a partition around 2GB) or use the Bootcamp assistant (which gives a minimum size of 20GB). Then simply boot from the install disk, when you get to choosing the drive you simply choose your thunderbolt one, and let the install continue. The small partition created on your internal HDD is a required one where some system files get placed. This may be different on the newer iMacs though (mines a 2011)?

    There is a thread on here: LINK detailing the process, worth a read.
     
  5. yjchua95, Jan 10, 2015
    Last edited: Jan 10, 2015

    yjchua95 macrumors 604

    Joined:
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    Location:
    GVA, KUL, MEL (current), ZQN
    #6
    That's because you didn't install it the UEFI way. Windows 7 doesn't really work with an EFI installation properly.

    And my steps basically takes care of the actual installation itself so that when you first boot into the external drive, it goes to setup immediately.

    Besides, since it's an RiMac, Windows 7 doesn't play nice with HiDPI displays. Windows 8.1 has far better support for HiDPI displays.

    ----------

    My steps don't require a TB drive specifically - it works for both TB and USB. So to save costs for the OP, I posted steps which will work for a USB drive.

    Basically, what my steps do is that it creates an unofficial Windows-to-Go-like drive.

    The added bonus is that, of course, you can even boot from the external drive when plugged into another Windows computer.
     
  6. biohead macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Jun 18, 2010
    Location:
    West Drayton, UK
    #7
    My post was specifically based on OP requesting Windows 7, which you wouldn't be able to do the Windows 8 way.
     
  7. yjchua95 macrumors 604

    Joined:
    Apr 23, 2011
    Location:
    GVA, KUL, MEL (current), ZQN
    #8
    And my post was specifically based on OP requesting for an NAS or a USB drive.

    TB is not necessary, and since it's a retina iMac, installing Windows 7 on it wouldn't be advisable, considering its dreary support for HiDPI displays.
     
  8. Chippy99, Jan 12, 2015
    Last edited: Jan 12, 2015

    Chippy99 macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Apr 28, 2012
    #9
    I'm not sure anyone has written a Mac-specific tutorial yet.

    But if you google WinToUsb 2.0 beta (for example, there are other methods) then you will find out how to get Windows 7 onto a USB drive and with some fiddling about this could be made to work with a Mac.

    There's another method here:

    http://www.intowindows.com/how-to-install-windows-7-to-usb-external-hard-drive-must-read/

    But as I say, with Bootcamp involved, you'd have to adapt this a bit, but I am certain it's do-able. Since WinToUSB will clone an existing Windows implementation, it *may* be possible to simply install Bootcamp on your internal drive as normal, boot from it and then clone that installation using WinToUsb. You'd have to try it.

    @yjchua95: I notice you've edited your "Windows 7 - nope" comment and added "At least not over USB". You may need to edit it again ;-)
     
  9. yjchua95 macrumors 604

    Joined:
    Apr 23, 2011
    Location:
    GVA, KUL, MEL (current), ZQN
    #10
    Either way, it'd be best for the OP to not install Windows 7, since it's a 5K iMac. Windows 7's support for HiDPI displays is abysmal. The OP would have a far better UX with 8.1.
     
  10. Chippy99 macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Apr 28, 2012
    #11
    Fair point.
     

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