OS X on SDXC card

Discussion in 'Mac mini' started by rndman, Jan 14, 2014.

  1. rndman macrumors member

    Joined:
    Dec 18, 2013
    #1
    Was just wondering if anyone has installed OS X on SD card and made it a boot disk for mac mini.
    Just trying to take advantage of the idle card slot and any advantage that it will bring in.
    Also in this configuration what all should be on the boot drive? Each and every system file (and applications)?
     
  2. paulrbeers macrumors 68040

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    Dec 17, 2009
    #2
    SD cards no matter how "fast" are extremely slow by even Mechanical hard drive standards AND they are very unreliable. If you want to use it for anything, put your Music and Videos on it, but do NOT put your OS on it (I'm not even sure if you can boot from an SD card, but either way this would be a terrible idea).
     
  3. Fishrrman macrumors G3

    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2009
    #3
    I don't see why it couldn't be done, but there are a few issues to deal with.

    Is the card reader slot on the back of the Mini USB2 or USB3? When I check System Profiler on my own late 2012 Mini, clicking "Card Reader" doesn't give much in the way of information.

    Having said that, there are now relatively high-speed SDXC cards, and USB3 external card readers. Using such a combination might not be as fast as using an SSD mounted in either an external enclosure or USB3/SATA dock via the USB3 ports, but it would certainly be as fast as a USB2 drive, probably somewhat faster. In other words, "fast enough" to be practical for a backup or emergency situation.

    There are also USB3 flash drives out there that now boast relatively fast read/write speeds, as well.

    To the OP:
    I wouldn't use an SDXC card or flash drive as a "regular" external boot drive. You'd be FAR better off to get an SSD, put it into an enclosure or dock, and let that serve as your "external booter". In fact, that's just what I do.

    BUT -- it might be practical to use SDXC or a flash drive to serve as an "off-site" backup. The idea is to keep a copy of your important stuff -away from- the location where the computer itself is. This protects against things like house fires, theft, etc.

    I'm moving in this direction myself. Trying to decide in the next couple of days which might be the better choice for such a backup:
    1. SDXC card and external USB3 card reader
    or
    2. USB3 flash drive.
     
  4. haravikk macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    May 1, 2005
    #4
    Not sure if it's connected via USB internally at all, but on the 2012 Mini it's definitely faster than USB2 speeds. I know because I recently got an 80mb/sec read, 20mb/sec write Micro SD card to speed up my phone, and only my late 2012 Mac Mini could reach those speeds (I also have a 2011 Mini, and a 2009 iMac).

    That's about the fastest Micro SD card I've ever seen, and I'm not sure regular SD goes much faster; it's not something I'd want to run an OS off-of in any event, especially since the performance degrades heavily if it starts filling up, and it also performs extremely poorly under mixed (simultaneous read/write) workloads, like an OS will typically produce.

    It might be okay for testing OSes, and some flavours of Linux will actually run really well from an SD card, but I think you'd be disappointed by OS X performance from one.
     
  5. rndman thread starter macrumors member

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    Dec 18, 2013
    #5
    IMHO the SD interface may not be using USB internally. It would be direct interface and may be (just may be) as "good" as USB 3.0.
    But as others have pointed out, it may not be a good idea for an I/O intensive stuff like OS to be residing on SDXC..
    I will give it a shot when I have some time and report the results.
     
  6. jwhazel macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Sep 22, 2005
    #6
    It works really well for making a OS installer or a test OS for troubleshooting (I've used it for both of these quite a bit). It doesn't work very well for everyday general purpose OS usage. That requires a lot of random I/O and SD cards were made for sequential transfers (writing a large jpeg/mpeg from a camera). And if for some reason it came unmounted during one of the many random I/O's it will have to endure, you're looking at possible file system corruption. To answer your question there is absolutely no advantage to using an SD card in this way unless you want to be technical and count the silence over a spinning drive.
     
  7. ColdCase macrumors 68030

    Joined:
    Feb 10, 2008
    Location:
    NH
    #7
    Yes, SD cards are not really suitable for routine OS booting, but they are relatively bullet proof, rugged, and now fast. Lots of SDs are in use in cameras as they can take a lot of physical abuse. Its the mico SDs that seem to be less reliable. When I am not using the SD slot to transfer photos/videos from my camera, I stick a class 10 SD card in and use it as a scratch disk and aux storage.
     
  8. pentool macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jul 20, 2013
    #8
    A little old thread, but...

    Can I install Mac OS X on an SD storage device and use it as a startup volume?
    Yes. Change the default partition table to GUID using Disk Utility, and format the card to use the Mac OS Extended file format to do so.


    SOURCE: https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT204384
     
  9. justperry macrumors 604

    justperry

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    #9
    Sd cards get faster and faster, there are already cards with R/W speeds of 300MB/s, and within a year of two you will even get much faster cards.
    By then it might be a good option for those Macs that still have conventional hard disks.
    I will definitely try later on since I just bought a new MBP 13" for a cheap price, but it is slow compared to my 2012 Mac mini with an aftermarket ssd.

    PNY 2000X cards are the fastest available AFAIK now.
     
  10. rigormortis macrumors 68000

    rigormortis

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    Jun 11, 2009
    #10
    i wrote to disk warrior why they ship it on usb and not sd cards, because sd cards are faster and they said
    that sd cards were slower, heh
     
  11. justperry macrumors 604

    justperry

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    #11
    It doesn't really matter now does it.
    You seldom need diskwarrior so one extra minute to boot into diskwarrior recovery does not hurt.
    I actually put diskwarrior on an SD card yesterday, it was fast to boot just because the System is very minimal, took less then a minute.
     
  12. rigormortis macrumors 68000

    rigormortis

    Joined:
    Jun 11, 2009
    #12
    the deal with sd cards and compact flash cards is when you buy them you are guaranteed a speed rating.
    it will clearly say "333x" or "class 10" on the package.

    when you buy usb keys at the store, you have no idea of the expected read/write speeds on that usb key.
    you have no clue if you are getting your money worth.

    i tried installing os x on a usb key and it was 1000 times slower then the people complaining about how slow sd cards are here. it must of taken an hour to boot
     
  13. paulrbeers macrumors 68040

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    Dec 17, 2009
    #13
    Real problem with SD Cards is longevity and reliability. It doesn't matter if part of your SD card flakes out in a camera or other device (you might lose a picture, but not the end of the world). You lose even one important memory block and your whole OS is shot. Those of us who have used Raspberry Pi's can attest that memory card corruption is a huge issue.

    Recommendation: Don't do it.
     
  14. justperry macrumors 604

    justperry

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    #14
    But, for recovery with Diskwarrior it is OK, anything else not so.
     
  15. justperry macrumors 604

    justperry

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    #15
    I was talking about installing Diskwarrior on a SD card, it does not really matter if it boots up a bit slower, but to my surprise it booted palmist as fast as the internal HD, a mechanical HD that is, the System is just minima, so it boots up quickly.
     
  16. tennisproha macrumors 6502a

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    Jun 24, 2011
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    Texas
    #16
    Did you get a chance to try it?

    I'm wondering whether its better to create a bootable installer via USB 3 or via SDXC?
    SDXC is def more convenient IMO size-wise but I don't wanna chance it for use as an installer if theres any possiblity of a sub-par installation. Any advice…
     
  17. CoastalOR macrumors 68000

    CoastalOR

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    #17
    USB thumb drives are less expensive. I know how to create and test a bootable USB installer, and there have been threads of people having SD card reading problems with Mac SD card slots. I would choose USB3.
     
  18. IHelpId10t5 macrumors 6502

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    Nov 28, 2014
    #18
    Not sure about a boot drive but I use an SD card for a TimeMachine backup and it works great. This is obviously not my only backup but it provides a very easy way to add TimeMachine backups to a system without taking up any USB or TB ports needed for an external HDD.
     
  19. tennisproha macrumors 6502a

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    #19
    Thanks for the tip. btw, I know how to create a USB installer using apple's support guide but how do you test it?
     
  20. Celerondon macrumors 6502a

    Celerondon

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    Southern Cal
    #20
    Backup your Mac and then use the USB installer! That is the ultimate test of the memory stick.

    Do your homework first. Read more than one or two articles about installer creation. Preparing the USB drive and creating the installer is not such a big deal but there are a few steps to the process. In the end, it either works or it doesn't. To paraphrase the Nike slogan: Just Use It!:)
     
  21. tennisproha macrumors 6502a

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    Jun 24, 2011
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    #21
    ha fair enough. only foolproof way I suppose. the only thing that gets me is ppl say backup data then test, check, etc. but then how do ppl restore data? are you guys just backing up the User folder then replacing it on the new install or I'd imagine there'd a more involved process to restore…
     
  22. Celerondon macrumors 6502a

    Celerondon

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    Oct 17, 2013
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    Southern Cal
    #22
    Nope! I did not ask you to backup your "data" or only the user folder. Backup your whole computer. You really should always have one that includes OS X, data, setup, apps, and drivers. Really now you should just have to freshen up that existing system backup.

    A comment about "testing" your installer: You can be sure that you made it right if it works. If the USB installer is flawed, it will not do anything.
     

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