Installing Windows 7 onto an external drive?

Discussion in 'Windows, Linux & Others on the Mac' started by haravikk, Mar 23, 2010.

  1. haravikk macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    May 1, 2005
    #1
    Does anyone know of a way to install Windows 7 onto an external drive and boot up from it? I have access to USB, Firewire, and eSATA, though the last one is via the 5th or 6th SATA controller in my Mac Pro which I'm not sure are bootable.

    Anyway, I've been hunting around and I've found tons of references to installing FROM a USB drive, but none on installing TO such a drive. Considering Windows Vista and Windows 7 are supposed to be modern, high-tech OSes I find it laughable that you can only seem to install it onto a specific internal drive or seemingly not at-all, compared to OS X which I've been able to install on just about anything.

    Rant aside, I'm hoping there's a guide somewhere as there was for XP, but I've had no luck at all finding it. If I want to boot into Windows then I need to be able to get it to work from an external drive, as my OS X installation boots from a software raid volume which Windows won't recognise, and which I can't partition in such a way that it would (not without dedicating a whole 750gb drive to Windows which is out of the question).
     
  2. neilhart macrumors 6502

    neilhart

    Joined:
    Oct 11, 2007
    Location:
    SF Bay Area - Fremont
    #2
    Saw your post in a search on esata. Anyway booting windows from an external drive is a problem because of how the OS was designed. Your mention of a RAID caught my attention. I run stripped RAID disks under Snow Leopard and Windows XP as a Virtual Machine using VMware. This works so well that I no longer boot Windows from the hardware. And with VMware, the suspend and resume functions work so well, I seldom have to reboot the VM.

    neil.
     
  3. haravikk thread starter macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    May 1, 2005
    #3
    Hmm, I've been using VMWare Fusion and it's fine for some stuff, but it's really not that reliable, and the performance is still fairly poor compared to the speed and compatibility of just rebooting into Windows proper.

    I'm actually trying WINE (developer branch) at the moment, installed via MacPorts. It could use a load of work when it comes to OS X integration, as there isn't any, but otherwise it runs Windows programs extremely well. I'm having a little look today to see how much work it'd be to package it as a pseudo OS X .app for ease of use as it's pretty promising, but it's a real pain to set-up unless you're familiar with command-line (even then it's pretty fiddly even with MacPorts doing most of the heavy lifting).

    It currently has some sound issues in the latest developer version, but it runs most any game I throw at it, which can't be said for VMWare Fusion or Parallels, both of which claim Direct3D support but really don't deliver on that promise at all.
     
  4. b0redom macrumors regular

    Joined:
    May 4, 2007
    #4
    Any joy on this mate? I am considering replacing my gaming PC and older iMac with a shiny new 27" iMac, but it's a bit of a no go if I can't boot Windows 7 from an external drive.
     
  5. neilhart macrumors 6502

    neilhart

    Joined:
    Oct 11, 2007
    Location:
    SF Bay Area - Fremont
    #5
    Saw this thread again. The VMware subject is near a dear to my heart. I swear by this configuration: OS X 10.6.n with VMware Fusion 3.02 (today they released 3.1 but I have no hours on that yet) and Win XP Pro SP3 as a virtual machine. All of this under an i7-860 or i7-920 CPU. The VM Win XP Pro SP3 is rock solid and faster then BootCamped Win XP Pro SP3 running on my Mid 2009 MPB 2.8GHz.

    I run this configuration daily at work and seldom reboot XP as I seldom reboot OS X. Frequently I also have a VM ubuntu instance running in another space. This along with dual LCD 1600 x 1200 monitors.

    This is the power of 4 cores with 8 threads running OS X in 64 bit mode with 8GB of memory.

    neil
     
  6. b0redom macrumors regular

    Joined:
    May 4, 2007
    #6
    Yes BUT gaming would still suck under your setup. In order to play games at a reasonable framerate, you need to be running in native mode. I'm a big fan of virtualisation, but it does have its limitations.
     

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