Install Windows on external SSD

Discussion in 'Windows, Linux & Others on the Mac' started by rjsounds, Aug 5, 2017.

  1. rjsounds macrumors member

    rjsounds

    Joined:
    Jul 3, 2017
    #1
    Hi guys,

    I'm awaiting the arrival of my new 27" iMac configured with the 512SSD option. I want to install windows on it for games but would rather not partition it because of the smaller size. Is it possible to install windows directly onto an external SSD (would probably be a 250GB SSD)?

    A search on the forums and Google leads me to believe it's possible, but it's not easy. Has anyone done this and if so do you have any advice?
     
  2. allan.nyholm, Aug 6, 2017
    Last edited: Aug 6, 2017

    allan.nyholm macrumors 6502a

    allan.nyholm

    Joined:
    Nov 22, 2007
    Location:
    Aalborg, Denmark
    #2
    It's very easy - installing onto an SSD in a Thunderbolt or USB casing is as easy as creating the Windows 10 USB by simply downloading Windows 10 off the Microsoft website and "sudo cp -R" everything onto an USB that is formatted as FAT filesystem and MS-DOS partitiontable(forget the actual name if it's not this). Install everything onto the external SSD.
    The Thunderbolt port would allow for Windows to use TRIM on your SSD while using Windows 10 on USB connected drive would not. I've always installed Windows 10 on an external Thunderbolt connected drive on my 27" Retina late-2015 iMac

    The Terminal command is to made with "sudo cp -Rv " there's a blank space after the R(it just means that it travels through each sub-folder on copy also it displays the files as it copies)

    You mount the Windows ISO file on the Desktop and mark everything in the Finder that you see after opening the ISO and have the Terminal command already entered without pressing the Return-key; drag all the files onto the Terminal-window and press the Return-key. Type your Administrator password and sit back as the USB key is made.

    Just make sure that you disconnect all external drives that are formatted with macOS Extended Journaled. Windows 10 installer is not great with those. Also try looking for the "Better Boot Camp"-reddit and follow the Formatting Windows partition section. You don't have to take notice of the stuff about creating a macOS partition.
    https://www.reddit.com/r/mac/comments/2fy3be/by_popular_demand_my_better_than_bootcamp_guide/

    You would have to have a USB drive with the BootCamp-drivers as well. Open the BootCamp Assistant and look in the menus of the app. The Action menu contains the option to download the drivers for manual copy to a USB drive.

    Just do this:

    enter the CMD - "instructions are found in the reddit"

    type:
    diskpart
    list disk
    select disk (number) - Your SSD
    clean
    convert gpt
    create partition efi size=200
    format fs=fat32
    create partition msr size=128
    create partition primary
    format fs=NTFS label=Windows QUICK

    This will enable the entire amount of space on your SSD to be used for Windows.

    Also, create a small macOS partition on your internal SSD with your new iMac. You can use the link I gave to format the internal SSD and just follow the section on how to create two partitions on the drive; one for macOS and one for Windows. When you've installed Windows onto the external SSD you'll have the option to look through the drives that Windows can see and format with the NTFS filesystem and use exclusively with Windows. They appear in the Disk Management program - as either RAW or Unused space.

    The reason for the small macOS partition is for firmware updates and the like. You never know when that installation of macOS might come in handy. It might never. And you might just notice a firmware update to your iMac and that requires a macOS partition which you opted out of. That mistake I wouldn't make again if I ever made it.

    Someone might explain all this in a sentence or two rather than what I typed. I apologise for all the descriptions. I have just done this so many times.
     
  3. rjsounds thread starter macrumors member

    rjsounds

    Joined:
    Jul 3, 2017
    #3
    Thank you very much for the detailed description. TBH while reading this it still sounds complicated, but I'll give it a go when my new iMac arrives and if I run into trouble I'll probably ask questions here. I'm still deciding on which external thunderbolt SSD to purchase - I heard the samsung T3 SSDs are a good choice.
     
  4. takasugi macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Feb 21, 2012
    #4
    The T3 isn’t thunderbolt but usb-c so it won’t work without modification.
     
  5. rjsounds thread starter macrumors member

    rjsounds

    Joined:
    Jul 3, 2017
    #5
    Oh.. are there any 250gb thunderbolt SSDs that would work well to install windows on? Or does it even have to be thunderbolt to get the best performance? Is there an option that uses USB C that will work with my requirements?

    Or is there any other option for installing windows via bootcamp considering my limited storage 512SSD imac?
     
  6. allan.nyholm macrumors 6502a

    allan.nyholm

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    Nov 22, 2007
    Location:
    Aalborg, Denmark
    #6
    There is the option of using a good portion of the 512GB - say 70-75% for use with Bootcamp and use external USB(USB-C) devices as storage. I use the internal 1TB 7200RPM HDD for storage, formatted as NTFS and external SSD(Samsung 840) in a LaCie Rugged Thunderbolt case which originally contained a 120GB(or 128GB- I forget) SSD - I voided the warranty on the case because I thought; Why not!? I don't care about such old case which contained a small SSD when I can replace that SSD without spending $1.000.000 on a new LaCie Rugged Thunderbolt case with a larger SSD.

    Thunderbolt on my iMac gives double the throughput over the USB3 (I bought a stockplop case for my Samsung drive but wanted TRIM support)

    I don't know about USB-C enough to recommend any things of that nature.

    Windows won't install on a USB device on my iMac, only on Thunderbolt - I've only tried having OS X on a SSD connected to a USB3 port.
     
  7. rjsounds thread starter macrumors member

    rjsounds

    Joined:
    Jul 3, 2017
    #7
    Alright. So as long as I get any recent thunderbolt ssd I should be fine to install windows on it and follow your guide

    I'd like to not have to partition my 512gb internal ssd. Would prefer to keep it open for software apps like logic pro, photoshop, screen flow and Adobe premiere and after effects. I will be using two 2tb USB hard drives for storage and time machine for all of my files, audio samples and logic projects.
     
  8. AppleMythos macrumors newbie

    AppleMythos

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    Aug 7, 2017
    Location:
    San Francisco
    #8
    You can install Windows on an external SSD, but it is fairly complicated. There are a few popular methods floating around the internet, but the easiest one I have come across can be found here:

    You should be aware that the above method requires a separate windows laptop/desktop, and two external harddrives. So, you will need the external SSD that you plan on running Windows on, plus another external storage solution - anything over four gigs will do I believe. If you have any questions, feel free to send me a direct message and I will try to help you sort it out. Good luck.
     
  9. allan.nyholm macrumors 6502a

    allan.nyholm

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    Nov 22, 2007
    Location:
    Aalborg, Denmark
    #9
    I think my experiences are a little dated now that I watch that video posted above. It's a much better way to install Windows 10 now with USB-C ports (and cheaper too) I imagine that the PNY SSD doesn't cost $1.000.000 - the Samsung T3 the same. So it appears that Mac users with USB-C are much better off. You can however buy many cases that fit to a regular off the shelf SSD like any old Samsung SSD or other brand of SSD. How far they have gotten with applying a USB-C type connector to those I have not yet investigated.

    I would totally follow that video if I had both OS's already to use - most often I don't have Windows on a whole separate PC - most often it's in a Virtual Machine which probably also could make the drive using Rufus.
     
  10. rjsounds thread starter macrumors member

    rjsounds

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    Jul 3, 2017
    #10
    I have windows 7 on boot camp on my 2010 iMac, will that suffice?
     
  11. allan.nyholm macrumors 6502a

    allan.nyholm

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    Nov 22, 2007
    Location:
    Aalborg, Denmark
    #11
    Unsure if it will suffice - If Rufus is okay with making the Windows 10 media for you then no hopefully no situation will arise..

    However the way I write a whole tl-dr thing is typically me. Someone will come along and will write: "Just install Windows on a USB-C drive from this and that and forget all about those extra steps. Jeez"
     
  12. AppleMythos macrumors newbie

    AppleMythos

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    San Francisco
    #12
    Yes it will. The reason you need a Windows PC in this process is for a (free) piece of software that tricks the Windows 10 installation into installing on your external SSD. He spells this out somewhere in the video, but yes, any Windows machine will do.
     
  13. conan2509 Suspended

    conan2509

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    Aug 16, 2017
  14. Fancuku macrumors 6502a

    Fancuku

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    Oct 8, 2015
    Location:
    PA, USA
    #14
    I've always done it the easy way. HDD or SSD inside a thunderbolt enclosure works every time for me. Windows sees the TB enclosure as internal PCIe device so it will let you install directly to it just like it would in any PC.
    I create a USB Windows install media from another Windows computer and install it directly to the TB ssd.

    I do download Bootcamp drivers and install them after the Windows installation so everything (bluetooth, wi-fi, etc).
     
  15. SaSaSushi macrumors 68040

    SaSaSushi

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    Aug 8, 2007
    Location:
    Takamatsu, Japan
    #15
  16. rjsounds thread starter macrumors member

    rjsounds

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    Jul 3, 2017
    #16
    Thank you so much for this. I just powered on my new iMac for the first time last night and it's absolutely beautiful! I'm planning on doing a fresh install of my applications and then transferring the rest of my Logic Pro files later tonight.

    I will definitely consider your recommendation for the windows install, thanks again!

    In addition to the external SSD, I'm still researching USB external hard drives (non-SSD) for storage and backup. If I go with two hard drives for storage and redundancy, should I put them in a separate USB enclosure?
     
  17. SaSaSushi macrumors 68040

    SaSaSushi

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    Aug 8, 2007
    Location:
    Takamatsu, Japan
    #17
    If it is a multi-drive JBOD enclosure then just one will do the job. I am using a USB3 cradle (JBOD) with two 2.5inch bays that I just insert both HDDs into and they appear as separate drives. I backup from one to the other.
     
  18. Gjwilly macrumors 68030

    Joined:
    May 1, 2011
    Location:
    SF Bay Area
    #18
    I just finished installing with this method. Quick and easy and it doesn't require a Windows computer.
    https://hackernoon.com/how-to-run-bootcamp-windows-10-on-a-usb3-86551dc3def8

    The guide does have a few mistakes and forgotten steps so use the corrected version provided by one of the commenters.
    https://medium.com/@SteveAA/hi-guys...tbe-able-a-few-with-their-errors-dafec1e44d12

    And the download link for the Bootcamp Support Software is no longer valid so I used Brigadier to obtain the correct version for my MacBook.
    https://github.com/timsutton/brigadier
    I tried using Bootcamp Assistant but it kept failing saying the software was unavailable.

    If you're using a 2017 MacBook (or any MacBook?) you'll need a USB mouse to complete the Windows setup because you won't have a working trackpad nor keyboard until you install the Bootcamp drivers.
    You won't need a keyboard because Windows 10 provides an on-screen keyboard.
     
  19. rjsounds thread starter macrumors member

    rjsounds

    Joined:
    Jul 3, 2017
    #19
    Hi guys, I am posting again here as I have yet to follow through with the purchase of an external SSD (even though it has been several months since I first made this thread).

    I am looking to get feedback on a new method I saw of installing windows on an external SSD, since there was a video tutorial put out by 9to5mac on YouTube a day after the last post in this thread. Has anyone seen this video yet and do you think it is a sound method?

    Here's the video:


    Thanks
     
  20. Fancuku macrumors 6502a

    Fancuku

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    Location:
    PA, USA
    #20
    Far too long of a process in my opinion.
    I would use an external thunderbolt enclosure. Windows sees the external thunderbolt as internal pci-e device so you can install Windows directly to it if you boot your Mac with a W10 USB installer.

    First I download the WindowsSupport drivers just like the guy did in the beginning of a video, the I reboot the Mac holding down the option key and choose the W10 USB installer. Make sure you choose custom install and choose the thunderbolt drive as the installation drive.

    Copy the Windows Support folder from your Mac to a usb drive or whatever other method and then open it up after you boot to Windows and finish the installation of the Boot Camp drivers. That's it.
     
  21. rjsounds thread starter macrumors member

    rjsounds

    Joined:
    Jul 3, 2017
    #21
    Are the above 4 items that SaSaSushi recommended still the best choice? i.e.

    1) Delock 42510 Thunderbolt enclosure
    2) Apple TB3 to TB2 Adapter
    3) TB cable
    4) SSD of your choice.

    It seems a little on the expensive side but I guess that's the best way to go about doing this. I only need a 250GB SSD, as the main purpose of installing windows is just so I can play some Windows-only games. Any recommendations on which SSD to go with?
     
  22. Fancuku macrumors 6502a

    Fancuku

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    Location:
    PA, USA
    #22
    The price of that enclosure is not too bad compared to some others but still too expensive. And I didn't realize you had a 2017 iMac with the usb-c/thunderbolt port. My iMac is the late 2015 with tb2.

    Here is a usb-c/tb3 enclosure that includes the cable for only $29 :D

    https://www.ebay.com/itm/MiniPro-3-...227128?hash=item5d6b3ea8f8:g:1F0AAOSwA3dYL3-4

    The Crucial MX500 250GB SSD for $75 from Amazon sounds good to me though if I were you I would spend a little more and get a 480-500GB SSD. I have seen them lately for around $100.
     
  23. imacken macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Feb 28, 2010
    #23
    Just to add here, I have installed Windows 10 several times on a external SSD drive, and the process was very simple.
    I used WintoUSB (from a windows boot) with a iso file, and the process was very simple. Look here.
    If you are using a SATA SSD, I don't see any reason for using TB3 or USB-C as you are limited by the drive speed. Drives like the Samsung 850 EVO have a rating of around 500Mb/s and that is easily achievable over USB3.
    A critical factor though, is to make sure you buy an enclosure that supports UASP, as that effectively doubles your transfer rate. I bought one on Amazon for around £20, and I use the 850 EVO and achieve 440Mb/s as per Crystalmark benchmarks.
     
  24. SaSaSushi macrumors 68040

    SaSaSushi

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    Aug 8, 2007
    Location:
    Takamatsu, Japan
    #24
    Just to clarify that although this enclosure uses the the USB-C port, it does not have a Thunderbolt chipset. This enclosure would require the process described in the 9to5Mac video you posted. It gets confusing, but you need to be careful with "compatible with USB 3.1 and Thunderbolt 3" because they use the same connector now. This has the ASMedia 1351 (USB3.1) chipset.

    As 2.5" enclosures with a Thunderbolt chipset go, I challenge you to find a cheaper option than the Delock.
     
  25. imacken macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Feb 28, 2010
    #25
    As I alluded to in my post above, why go to the expense of a TB enclosure when a standard USB3 one with UASP does just as well. Here, the bottleneck is the SATA SSD drive, not the interface. Now, if we were talking about nVME, then that is a different matter!
     

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