Placement of Windows partition in a Mac Pro

Discussion in 'Windows, Linux & Others on the Mac' started by Fesco, Jan 19, 2011.

  1. Fesco macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Nov 4, 2010
    Location:
    London
    #1
    I would like to install windows through bootcamp on a Mac Pro.

    As a result of research I deduced that windows would only see 4 partitions due to the MBR partitioning scheme it uses; one of these partitions will be invisible and unusable. Moreover, each hard drive bay effectively counts as a partition.

    I want to find out if the bay, you install windows on, effects the partitions it will see in the remaining bays.

    “How does the placement of windows in the Mac Pro bays effects partitions it will see?”

    For instance if I install windows in bay 3 will windows only see a number of partitions in bay 4 and ignore the bays above or is it the other way round?

    I’m asking because I want a 500gb partition housed in a separate Hard drive bay visible in windows - it has all my textures and models that I will need to use in the windows partition.

    I have a 240gb SSD housing OSX + windows in bay 1 and a partitioned 1tb hard drive (500gb/500gb) in the second bay

    Also is it possible to partition an internal drive to both HFS and NTFS? The NTFS volume being used by the windows partition as a scratch disk for Photoshop/data storage?

    Any help on the subject or hard drive arrangements would be much appreciated.
     
  2. Guiyon, Jan 19, 2011
    Last edited: Jan 19, 2011

    Guiyon macrumors 6502a

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    Mar 19, 2008
    Location:
    North Shore, MA
    #2
    This information is incorrect. Each hard drive bay is a separate physical drive and each drive may have up to 4 partitions (if you are using the MBR partitioning scheme). Windows can support up to 128 partitions if you are using GPT but the BIOS compatibility layer that is currently used to boot Windows can only recognize MBR which limits you to only being able to see the first 4 partitions (GPT has a wrapper around the drive that make it look like MBR to non-GPT aware software). You can connect as many SATA drives as you would like (and are able to) and they will all be recognized and bootable.

    As for multiple file systems on a single drive, you can have each partition be a separate file system. For example, you may have 1 NTFS partition and 1 HFS+ partition but it is impossible to have a partition that is both NTFS and HFS+. If you need a file system that is both readable and writable by both OSs, I would recommend either installing NTFS-3G and formatting the drive as NTFS or just formatting it as exFAT (Assuming you are running Windows 7 and Mac OS X 10.6). You can also use FAT32 as both OSs can read and write to it but it is an old file system with some major limitations (for example, a 4GB file size limit).
     
  3. hfg macrumors 68040

    hfg

    Joined:
    Dec 1, 2006
    Location:
    Cedar Rapids, IA. USA
    #3
    I have the same questions after having fits trying to install Windows 7 through BootCamp on a dedicated drive in Bay-4. It would not install, nor would it format the partition (as NTFS). At one point I received an error message which I believe mentioned the GPT as being a problem.

    If I installed to a non-BootCamp Windows formatted (ExFAT)drive, all went well. I want to do it through BootCamp so I will have the ability to set the default boot OS from OS X or Windows BootCamp Tools. Otherwise I seem to have to use the Option Key every time it boots or reboots.

    I found one reference on the Apple Support page for Boot Camp which indicates that a dedicated Windows drive installed through Boot Camp must be in either Bay-1 or the other lower numbered drives should be removed during the install process:
    If You Have Problems Creating a Partition
    - If your Mac has more than one internal disk and you want to install
    Boot Camp on a disk that isn’t in the first hard drive bay, remove the drives in the lower numbered bays. You can reinstall the drives after you install Boot Camp.


    I have 4 drives in my Pro:
    Bay-1 SSD OS X Boot Drive
    Bay-2&3 1TB drives in a RAID-0 for OSX data
    Bay-4 320GB Velociraptor for Windows

    For now, I just divided my SSD in half and installed Windows7 and BootCamp on the SSD with OSX. When I get a chance I will open the box up and switch the drives in Bay-1 and Bay-4 and try again with the Windows target drive actually in the first drive bay.

    Hopefully more information will be posted by others who have more knowledge about this topic.:)

    -howard
     
  4. Fesco thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Nov 4, 2010
    Location:
    London
    #4
    Thanks for your reply it has cleared up a lot of confusion. So what you are saying is Windows is limited to seeing 4 partitions per hard drive in the mac pro. But it will see all the internal hard drives that are installed on the machine - that makes a lot more sense.

    As for the HFS/NTFS scheme, I meant I would like to partition my 1TB drive (500gb/500gb) as 1 NTFS partition and 1 HFS+ partition. The reason for this is I would like to use the NTFS as a scratch disk for photoshop in windows. If I am rendering something in 3d s max (which is windows only) not to kill my workflow of having to reboot back to mac to use photoshop, I can do post-production work in windows as 3ds max renders in the background.

    Would the procedure of formatting occur like this:

    Select the drive in question in disk utility, partition this drive in half - assign one 500gb partition as HFS+ and the other to FAT32. Then reboot into Windows select the FAT32 drive and reformat it to NTFS.

    Or is there a better way of assigning differing format partitions to one hard drive?

    Again thanks for taking the time to answer me.
     
  5. balamw Moderator

    balamw

    Staff Member

    Joined:
    Aug 16, 2005
    Location:
    New England
    #5
    Note that the limit of 4 partitions for hard drives is a bit of an oversimplification as well. MBR can only have 4 primary (i.e. bootable) partitions, while one of those can be dedicated to be an extended partition that itself can be partitioned further. See:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Master_boot_record, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Extended_boot_record and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Logical_Disk_Manager

    The problem with hybrid GPT/MBR disks typical of shared Windows/Mac single drive systems is that the EFI boot partition already takes up one of those slots.

    That should work, but on the Mac Pro it's just a lot easier to keep the two OSes and their data on separate drives. MBR only for Windows, GPT/MBR for Mac OS X.

    The way I've done it in the past is to set up OS X the way I want it, remove the OS X drive(s). Install the Windows HDDs and install Windows as if it was a PC. Then reintroduce the Mac OS X drives.

    B
     
  6. Fesco thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Nov 4, 2010
    Location:
    London
    #6
    Thanks for your patience with me, having multiple OSes on a single computer can get really complicated.

    I completely understand what you mean by using separate disks but I think it's a bit wasteful; I don't want to dedicate a 1tb drive to windows (yet) and nor do I want to buy a 500GB drive as a 1TB is more cost effective. Filling my mac pro with windows and Mac osx disks (boot disk and Data disk for each platform) will not leave me a lot of room to expand later on. If I can pull off a split format disk scheme it will save space on my mac pro, I will have space to set up a RAID system later, and I just feel it will be an elegant fusion of the OSes. I am aware that RAID does not work with bootcamp that is probably why hfg had trouble getting windows to work. I have heard you can remedy this by moving that bootcamp drive into the optical Bay...

    I will have a look at those links you gave balamw they are really intense but I guess if you want to make a career using computers it can't hurt to actually know how they work. You have been really helpful.
     
  7. balamw Moderator

    balamw

    Staff Member

    Joined:
    Aug 16, 2005
    Location:
    New England
    #7
    That shouldn't make any difference on a Mac Pro, it's only really a workaround for Macbooks and iMacs that don't have any other way of adding internal drives.

    What worked for another user was just turning off the Apple drivers that are responsible for mounting HFS+ drives and partitions.

    B
     
  8. hfg macrumors 68040

    hfg

    Joined:
    Dec 1, 2006
    Location:
    Cedar Rapids, IA. USA
    #8
    Hi ... I'm following this discussion too.:)

    My RAID-0 is for OSX only as a user & data disk, with a separate OS X boot disk (ssd). However, my research seems to indicate that since these disks are in lower drive-bays, the partition-count may be too many for the windows installer which is trying to install to the highest # drive bay.

    It is my understanding that drives mounted in the optical Bay (and connected to the extra sata interfaces) are NOT bootable by Windows, although OS X will have no problems with a boot drive there.

    I tried an experiment using WinClone to build an image of my working Windows7 co-installed on my OS X boot ssd drive. Then I restored it to my Bay-4 windows target drive pre-formatted using BootCamp. Although it crashes part way through the boot sequence, I am wondering if my image size is realistic:
    - source Windows install 44GB
    - WinClone image 7GB
    - target Windows restore 27GB

    -howard
     
  9. hfg macrumors 68040

    hfg

    Joined:
    Dec 1, 2006
    Location:
    Cedar Rapids, IA. USA
    #9
    For anyone who is interested, I moved my Windows target disk drive to Bay#1 (was in Bay#4) in my Mac Pro and again tried installing Windows7 via BootCamp. This time, I was able to format the partition during the start of the installation, and the installation proceeded normally without any problems and everything seems to be running fine.:)

    This would seem to confirm the Apple warning that the Windows installer can only handle a small number of partitions starting with logical disk-0 in Bay#1 if you have 4 disk drives installed and active with several partitions.

    -howard
     
  10. TPadden, Jan 24, 2011
    Last edited: Jan 24, 2011

    TPadden macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Oct 28, 2010
    #10
    My OsX and Win 7 Bootcamp partitions are both on a SSD drive in the top optical bay. They have been there from instillation using CD's disks in the other optical drive bay. I have (MacPro 4.1) OS X boot/ Win 7Bootcamp in top optical, OS X raid data in #1 and #2; Windows scratch in #3. The Bootcamp partition boots fine and I wouldn't think a dedicated drive would be a problem since the optical drives boot from there.

    I use the Windows drivers on the Bootcamp part since when using Apple's I had Cache Management BSOD's even after renaming the Win System HFS files.

    Tom
     
  11. hfg macrumors 68040

    hfg

    Joined:
    Dec 1, 2006
    Location:
    Cedar Rapids, IA. USA
    #11
    That may work for you because you have the newer generation MacPro which has sata interfaces already in the optical bay area. The reports of Windows not booting were from earlier designs which had spare sata interfaces under the fan cover on the motherboard which had to be routed up to the optical cage where there was room to mount additional drives. The optical disk in these machines had a parallel IDE interface in that area.

    Thanks for the new information.

    -howard
     
  12. whyrichard macrumors 68000

    Joined:
    Aug 15, 2002
    #12
    I am getting this problem currently on my '09 mac pro.

    I have tried a million things, most recently partitioning my intended bootcamp partition fresh, (150gigs on a 3tb with no other boot drive on it), removing all other hard drives, moving the bootcamp drive to bay 1, booting of an xp pro sp2 disk...

    ...BUT STILL! No "bootcamp" partition...

    ...only a partition that is around 700gb (not 3tb, or 2.3 tb..) which i am currently partitioning and reformatting using the xp disk... but i think even if this works it is unsatisfactory as i want this hd to be 150gb bootcamp/2.3 tb storage for my mac!

    what gives?

    any other solutions? things to try?

    thanks,

    mucho frustrated.

    r.
     

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