OS X on SDXC card

rndman

macrumors member
Original poster
Dec 18, 2013
59
0
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)?
 

paulrbeers

macrumors 68040
Dec 17, 2009
3,961
120
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)?
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).
 

Fishrrman

macrumors Core
Feb 20, 2009
19,361
6,678
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.
 

haravikk

macrumors 65816
May 1, 2005
1,494
21
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.
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.
 

rndman

macrumors member
Original poster
Dec 18, 2013
59
0
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.
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.
 

jwhazel

macrumors regular
Sep 22, 2005
198
28
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.
 

ColdCase

macrumors 68030
Feb 10, 2008
2,992
149
NH
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.
 

pentool

macrumors member
Jul 20, 2013
39
1
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
 

justperry

macrumors G4
Aug 10, 2007
10,594
6,072
I'm a rolling stone.
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.
 

rigormortis

macrumors 68000
Jun 11, 2009
1,813
229
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
 

justperry

macrumors G4
Aug 10, 2007
10,594
6,072
I'm a rolling stone.
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
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.
 

rigormortis

macrumors 68000
Jun 11, 2009
1,813
229
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.
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
 

paulrbeers

macrumors 68040
Dec 17, 2009
3,961
120
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.
 

justperry

macrumors G4
Aug 10, 2007
10,594
6,072
I'm a rolling stone.
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.
But, for recovery with Diskwarrior it is OK, anything else not so.
 

justperry

macrumors G4
Aug 10, 2007
10,594
6,072
I'm a rolling stone.
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
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.
 

tennisproha

macrumors 65816
Jun 24, 2011
1,262
721
Texas
I will give it a shot when I have some time and report the results.
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…
 

CoastalOR

macrumors 68030
Jan 19, 2015
2,691
988
Oregon, USA
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…
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.
 

IHelpId10t5

macrumors 6502
Nov 28, 2014
477
336
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.
 
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tennisproha

macrumors 65816
Jun 24, 2011
1,262
721
Texas
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.
Thanks for the tip. btw, I know how to create a USB installer using apple's support guide but how do you test it?
 

Celerondon

macrumors 6502a
Oct 17, 2013
679
124
Southern Cal
Thanks for the tip. btw, I know how to create a USB installer using apple's support guide but how do you test it?
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!:)
 

tennisproha

macrumors 65816
Jun 24, 2011
1,262
721
Texas
Backup your Mac and then use the USB installer! That is the ultimate test of the memory stick.
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…
 

Celerondon

macrumors 6502a
Oct 17, 2013
679
124
Southern Cal
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…
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.
 

Kunal Khanna

macrumors newbie
Jan 5, 2018
1
0
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)?
I have installed MacOS on SD card. I will clear doubts of you all.

1. You all need to know that SD card reader is much faster than USB 3.0. It uses PCIE interface. But here I am talking about card reader, not your SD card.

2. Good SD cards are generally around 100 Mbps. It is not enough to run any OS smoothly.

3. I still made it a try and installed MacOS on my Transcend Jet Drive 128GB seamless SD card.

4. Boot time (until login screen) was normal.

5. After I entered my password, it took 10 times duration to logon.

6. Everything was laggy. But you can use it if you have patience.

7. Shutdown time was increased by 10 times.

I found no reason to keep it installed on SD card. So got it back on SSD.
 

cyki

macrumors newbie
Mar 6, 2018
4
0
I have installed MacOS on SD card. I will clear doubts of you all.

1. You all need to know that SD card reader is much faster than USB 3.0. It uses PCIE interface. But here I am talking about card reader, not your SD card.

2. Good SD cards are generally around 100 Mbps. It is not enough to run any OS smoothly.

3. I still made it a try and installed MacOS on my Transcend Jet Drive 128GB seamless SD card.

4. Boot time (until login screen) was normal.

5. After I entered my password, it took 10 times duration to logon.

6. Everything was laggy. But you can use it if you have patience.

7. Shutdown time was increased by 10 times.

I found no reason to keep it installed on SD card. So got it back on SSD.
you mean Mbit or MB? by having look on Transcend JetDrive Lite, theoretical read speed is 95MB/s and write 60MB/s which is in both cases faster than my internal HDD. Which SD card you tested?
 
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