New imac user running windows question

Discussion in 'iMac' started by davidgolfer, Dec 1, 2015.

  1. davidgolfer macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Dec 1, 2015
    #1
    I'm getting my first iMac this week. I have been using windows forever. What I would like to do is take out my windows hard drive out of my old pc and use it in a external usb case. Will I be able to boot up windows from this external drive on the iMac?
     
  2. Ledgem macrumors 65816

    Ledgem

    Joined:
    Jan 18, 2008
    Location:
    Hawaii, USA
    #2
    Ordinarily OS X needs to create a "boot camp" partition, a process that also involves installing some drivers to Windows so that it'll run properly on the Mac hardware. You can probably install the Boot Camp drivers to Windows separately, but I'm not sure how you'd set up a selector for the operating systems... and to make matters worse, Boot Camp expects that the Windows partition is on the internal drive. Some people can get around this by using a hard drive with Thunderbolt, and I've seen some guides stating that it's possible to do this with a USB 3.0 drive, but don't know of anything definitive.

    I have a suggestion for you. I was in the same situation when I switched over close to a decade ago. In order to transition to OS X at your own pace and still use your computer for work, I'd recommend virtualizing Windows. If you're not familiar with it, virtualization using apps like Parallels or VMWare Fusion allows you to run Windows as a "virtual machine" - that is, it's like Windows becomes a program on your computer. Windows behaves exactly as you'd expect it to, with the only possible exception being gaming and graphical performance. The benefit of virtualization over booting into Windows directly is that you can have OS X and Windows running at the same time. You can be in OS X, trying to do something, and then switch over to Windows if you're running out of time or just want to get it done, and then return to OS X... all without having to reboot and reopen programs. When I started out I was in Parallels almost all of the time that I was using my Mac, and with each week I spent less time in it. It was a nice way to ease the transition.

    The other nice feature of virtual machines is the ability to turn a physical machine into a virtual one. Both Parallels and VMWare have tools that can be downloaded that will copy your computer (the operating system, documents, and programs) and output it as a virtual machine file that you can then use with the virtualization program. That way you'll be able to access your old computer at any time from your Mac.

    Regarding Parallels and VMWare Fusion, each program used to have strengths over the other but these days they're about equal. Parallels is more aggressive about releasing a new version each year and phasing out compatibility with new Windows versions and/or OS X versions; VMWare Fusion used to be better about keeping versions supported for longer, and not releasing versions quite as quickly, but lately it seems as if they've caught on to Parallels' model. Both platforms offer discounted pricing if you're using the competing program, meaning that you can switch over to the competitor for about the same cost as if you were upgrading. I used Parallels, then went to VMWare Fusion, and now I'm back with Parallels... if you have some specific, unusual needs then it might be worth looking into the differences a bit more. For simply running Windows and doing general computing tasks, they'll both get the job done.
     
  3. davidgolfer thread starter macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Dec 1, 2015
    #3
    Thanks for the reply.
    I was considering using parallels. Will I be able to access my old hard drive once I run Windows in parallels??
    Really don't have and serious computing to do in Windows. Just would like to access old files and pictures. Maybe run a few programs like word or excel
     
  4. Ledgem macrumors 65816

    Ledgem

    Joined:
    Jan 18, 2008
    Location:
    Hawaii, USA
    #4
    If you convert your current Windows into a virtual machine file, then yes. If you take the hard drive and connect it to your Mac, then the answer is still yes - but I'd also mention that you don't need Windows to access files. OS X is able to read Windows partitions (formatted in NTFS; if your computer is really old and using FAT32, OS X can read and write to that), so accessing your data is no big deal. If you want to run Windows programs, that's where you'd need to virtualize and use Windows, itself - unless, of course, there's a Mac version of the program that you need. Microsoft Office is available for OS X, for example. Pages and Numbers, which comes with new Macs at no additional cost, can also open Word and Excel documents (although the formatting may be a bit off, depending on how fancy the document is).
     
  5. davidgolfer thread starter macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Dec 1, 2015
    #5
    Thanks for the reply. I was able to access most of my files leaving the windows pc on the network. There are still some programs that I will want to run windows for later. Think I'm going to run parallels for these
     
  6. Brandon Ess macrumors member

    Brandon Ess

    Joined:
    Oct 6, 2015
    Location:
    Huntsville, AL
    #6
    I'll second the VMWare Fusion suggestion. After being a long-time Windows user and then making the switch to OS X, I've found that once I grew accustomed to working in OS X, I rarely need to be in a Windows environment except for a few tasks. I simply migrated all of my files to OS X, installed VMWare Fusion and a clean install of Windows, and use the Windows VM for any tasks that I can't do in OS X. You could physical-to-virtual your Windows drive, which might be handy if you've got your Windows machine set up with software that's not easily reinstalled, but it might effect stability since you'd be porting over driver configurations that would no longer be needed. If you can easily recreate your Windows environment, I'd go with a clean install via VMWare.

    As another alternative, if your Windows machine is still in working order and you have the space, you could set up your Windows machine as a headless box and remote into it when needed. If you're running a Pro version of Windows then setting up Remote Desktop is pretty easy, and there's several third party remote desktop programs that you can use if you're running the Home version.

    Either way, I think once you switch to OS X and get used to it you'll discover that you rarely need to boot up Windows for anything.
     

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