multiple boot installers on single usb drive

fountaineer

macrumors member
Original poster
Jun 22, 2008
78
5
I have mac os yosemite, el capitan and sierra installer each on a bootable 16gb usb stick. I'm wondering if it's possible to have all three bootable installers on a single usb? each with their own partition or however to make that possible.

Thanks
 
Last edited:

keysofanxiety

macrumors G3
Nov 23, 2011
9,536
25,262
Err, probably get a big ol' USB stick, partition it into three through Disk Utility, then mount each one to each volume. Not sure if I'm oversimplifying but I can't see why that wouldn't work.

Depends how you made it I guess; if you're going through the Terminal command I imagine there wouldn't be a problem pointing it to a specific volume rather than the whole drive. Happy to be corrected though as it's not something I've personally tried. :)
 

Fishrrman

macrumors Core
Feb 20, 2009
19,653
6,846
If you already have the 3 separate USB flash drives in running condition, I'd just let it go at that (rather than put them onto a single flash drive).

Consider:
Suppose you have all three on ONE flash drive.
And -- at some point in the future -- you go to use one, and find that... the flash drive has failed?
Chances are, you may have lost all three installers.

But...
... keep them as they are now -- on three separate drives -- and if you lose one, you still have the other two…

"Don't put all your eggs in one basket…"
 

chown33

Moderator
Staff member
Aug 9, 2009
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I'd probably use SD cards, or a microSD cards with an adapter. They're physically small, and pretty inexpensive in sizes that fit a single OS installer. As infrequently as an installer will be used, speed isn't a major concern, unlike if you were running an OS from a USB drive for hours or days at a time.

I agree with @Fishrrman about putting too many things on one medium. It's the same problem people have with a 3 TB external drive that suddenly fails, taking everything with it. Spread the risk.
 
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DeltaMac

macrumors G4
Jul 30, 2003
10,342
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Yes, it can be done. I have a 64GB flash drive here, with 9 partitions. I currently have separate, bootable partitions for all installers from Leopard to Sierra, and enough space on the last partition for the next couple of major releases.
Is it particularly useful? Maybe as a curiosity, more than practical. I have found that it doesn't really take long to burn out a bootable installer from the collection of installer apps that I keep.
But, it's kinda fun to keep that stick in my pocket, and I can boot/install any supported macOS on any Intel Mac, all from that one flash drive.

I also like the SD card idea...
 

fountaineer

macrumors member
Original poster
Jun 22, 2008
78
5
Thanks for all the inputs. The installers aren't that valuable that it doesn't concern me to keep all marbles in one basket. If i loose one usb i'll just re do them when needed. DeltaMac thanks for confirming that it's possible.
 

fountaineer

macrumors member
Original poster
Jun 22, 2008
78
5
ok i thought to ask another question here related. Can i copy somehow a bootable mac os partition on a usb onto another usb stick? is that even possible. let me know if my question needs for clarity.

Thanks
 

DeltaMac

macrumors G4
Jul 30, 2003
10,342
2,738
Delaware
Can I combine 3 bootable OS X partitions coming from 3 different usb to one usb in some way?
Yes, if you have 3 separate flash drives, you can (with an additional flash drive) clone partitions from each flash drive, and make each partition on that flash drive bootable. Carbon Copy Cloner would easily handle that.
If your want to combine all the data on the three different flash drives, to a single partition, thus combining the three partitions into one, yes, of course you can do that. Unless you need to keep 3 separate systems, and keep those bootable, too.
In that case, you will need to explain a little bit more about the details of what you want to do.
 
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