Multiple virtual bootable 'disks' in one USB flash disk

Discussion in 'Mac Basics and Help' started by cool11, Dec 7, 2012.

  1. cool11 macrumors 65816


    Sep 3, 2006
    I have several 'emergency' tools, focused on hard disk and system failures.
    All these, should be able to boot a mac, in case of a problem.
    Several bootable utilities, each one claiming it's own 'media' to boot a mac.

    The problem I face is that all new mac do not have dvd drives, and also I want to detach from them.
    So, what option do I have? Usb flash disks or similarly, several sd cards.
    Unfortunately, I cannot afford having a dozen of them.
    I cannot afford dedicate a separate usb flash disk for each one of these boot utilities.

    I would like to be able to use a flash disk in any way I want(daily tasks, transferring data etc), but in case of a mac problem, I want to be able to use it as a bootable device too.

    Is this possible? Can I do it and how?
    I tried copying a specific bootable dmg in a folder of the root of my flash disk, I even tried and copy-paste in other folder all the files(without the dmg image) of the image, but when I booted mac pressing 'alt' button, I could not see any option of alternative booting.

    So, how can I do it?
    I hope there is a solution, other from purchasing many usb sticks or reverting back to cheap dvd disks.
  2. readymade524 macrumors newbie

    Sep 13, 2012
    This is absolutely doable. You need to use disk utility to do this.

    I found this tutorial online:

    You can make multiple partitions on the drive and use this method to restore each bootable utility to different partitions. I do this all the time at work.

    I use a usb hard drive for this. When you hold down the option key at startup, you'll see all bootable drives.
  3. cool11 thread starter macrumors 65816


    Sep 3, 2006
    Can I make partitions to a usb stick(not hard drive), with Disk Utility?

    And then mount them and restore every bootable dmg package I want, to a separate partition of my usb stick?
  4. readymade524 macrumors newbie

    Sep 13, 2012
    A usb flash drive should work fine, but just keep in mind how much space each utility takes. As far as I know, your only limit will be the size of the flash drive.
  5. cool11 thread starter macrumors 65816


    Sep 3, 2006
    I used disk utility and made several partitions to my usb stick.
    2 partitons 'mac journaled', and 3 with 'ntfs'(tuxera).
    When I plug it to mac, all partitions are visible.
    When I plug it to windows, only one 'ntfs' partition is visible, the first one, and no mac partitions are visible.
    I thought I could see all three partitions with ntfs format, inside windows.
    Why this does not happen?

    (I hope to solve it here, because if I ask to a pc forum they will blame me for creating it using mac's disk utility. But after all, I want a solution either using pc or mac. Pc users do not usually know mac stuff, so I hope some mac users with windows experience to help me here. It is a cross platform problem).
  6. readymade524 macrumors newbie

    Sep 13, 2012
    The PC will not see the Mac partitions. Not sure why it sees only one NTFS.
  7. cool11 thread starter macrumors 65816


    Sep 3, 2006
    If I choose to make partitions in windows, I can't make mac formated partitions!
    So, the only way is to make it on mac!
    But, I will use usb stick to pc too.
    So I need windows and mac format in several partitions.
    Why there is such problem?
  8. Stooby Mcdoobie macrumors 6502a

    Stooby Mcdoobie

    Jun 26, 2012
    The reason you're having trouble with Windows is because Windows will only mount the first active partition it sees when it comes to removable media. You can try using this utility to trick Windows into thinking it's a fixed drive, but it doesn't work for all makes/models.
  9. satcomer macrumors 603


    Feb 19, 2008
    The Finger Lakes Region
    One: Microsoft does NOT license NTFS to anyone. Any small company offering NTFS to another operating system is doing a hack, plain and simple.

    Two: Now the OS X HFS+ is 'open sourced in the Dawin project. So on windows you can use the commercial ware MacDrive (install this into your Windows partition).

    Three: For OS X to read/write NTFS use the shareware Tuxera NTFS or read the blog post NTFS write on Lion or Mountain Lion to learn the free way to read/write NTFS.

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