rMBP running WIN7 bootcamp via USB 3.0 Flash Drive. Doable?

Discussion in 'Windows, Linux & Others on the Mac' started by amberashby, Jul 1, 2012.

  1. amberashby macrumors 6502

    Nov 6, 2003
    Hi all,

    I'm thinking about getting the new rMBP and I have the need to run Windows mostly just for occasional MS Office use.

    Is it possible to run Win7 via bootcamp and have it running off of a fast USB 3.0 flash drive? I'm not sure if it is even possible and if it is I don't know if it will be usable performance wise. Anyone try something similar?

    Since I will only need Win7 occastionally I didn't want to waste any precious internal SSD space on a bootcamp partition.

    Any comments or advice would be appeciated.

  2. randomnut macrumors member

    Aug 17, 2011
    I don't know if the bootcamp tool will let you format and boot from a removable device, but from a performance perspective USB 3.0 is more than enough so that will not be a problem.
  3. leenak macrumors 68020

    Mar 10, 2011
    I think Windows prevents actually installing on a USB.

    I'd recommend looking into office for osx or using parallels.
  4. \-V-/ Suspended


    May 3, 2012
    There zero point in installing Windows on a separate partition just for MS Office. There is MS Office for Mac or you can install Windows in a VM and use Office that way. You'll be able to run Office without having to change OS's/restarting the computer.
  5. eagandale4114 macrumors 65816


    May 20, 2011
    Step 1: Create a boot camp partition the same size as your USB drive. Create it on your internal ssd as you would normally create a windows partition.

    Step 2: in windows format the USB drive to ntfs.

    Step 3: In OS X clone your boot camp partition to your USB drive.
  6. d00d macrumors regular

    Jul 22, 2002
    I'm pretty certain boot camp doesn't allow for external hard drive use, sadly.
  7. biohead macrumors 6502

    Jun 18, 2010
    West Drayton, UK
    Windows is incapable of booting from a USB port. It would require some serious modifications to get it working. The same with a firewire port on normal MBPs.

    I have heard that it does work from the Thunderbolt port however, although not quite enough people have tried it to verify it. I'm getting closer and closer to trying it myself, despite the high price.
  8. remencke macrumors newbie

    Jul 30, 2010

    I have to use some Windows specific applications for work, while I haven't set it up on my rMBP yet, this is the setup that I use currently on my Mac Mini. I have a thunderbolt WD external hd at 6TB (RAID). I placed my Parallels VM on the external drive, and the read/write speeds are actually faster on the external than the internal SSD that I installed. The Windows VM runs perfect, and my mini is less powerful than the rMBP will be (Windows is running on a single core with only 3GB of ram).
  9. brand macrumors 601


    Oct 3, 2006
    Since Thunderbolt is directly on the PCI bus Windows 7 should be able to boot from a Thunderbolt drive.
  10. striker33 macrumors 65816


    Aug 6, 2010
  11. brand macrumors 601


    Oct 3, 2006
  12. amberashby thread starter macrumors 6502

    Nov 6, 2003
    Thanks for the replies everyone. It seems that bootcamp on a USB drive may be more trouble than it is worth (if even possible). I do own Parallels so I guess that would be the easiest solution. I need to run the Windows office version and not the Mac version because of some specific VB for Excel plus I've been working in the windows version of Excel for a long, long time and the Mac version is just not the same for me.

    So now my only concern is how it will perform on a USB 3.0 flash drive. I'd rather not spend the money on a thunderbolt HD right now.
  13. MikhailT macrumors 601

    Nov 12, 2007
    Go with Parallels and you'd be able to store the VM file on the usb drive, run off it.

    With Parallels, you can just hide the rest of the Windows stuff and only see Office running on your laptop.
  14. amberashby thread starter macrumors 6502

    Nov 6, 2003
    I'll give it a shot.
  15. photosaurus macrumors regular

    Jun 22, 2012
    Personally, I'm going to wait a bit for thunderbolt external SSD's to go down in price, then bootcamp windows 8 on it.

    I had some hopes of "Windows to go" via usb 3.0 (I already have it working on an air and the dev win 8 release), but it looks like the enterprise version licensing required for that once windows 8 is released is a bit much. A shame, as windows to go is absolutely cool as cool gets.

    So... thunderbolt external ssd seems the best solution, if ssd/thunderbolt prices drop over the next year. And why should I buy a windows 7 license with windows 8 right around the corner.

    I only want windows for gaming, and I have a home-built desktop pc for that... so having it on my mac would just be nice to have for gaming on the road... I can wait.

    Edit: Besides the fact that I sort of promised my wife (with my fingers and toes crossed) that I would only use my new rMBP for photography, software, and video work... or else it was a no go. She's going to be very irritated the first time she sees a game on it.
  16. JasonH42 macrumors 6502

    Feb 9, 2010
    There are SDXC cards delivering 90MB/s. :)
  17. brand macrumors 601


    Oct 3, 2006
    Those are SDXC UHS cards which I don't think the MBPr is compatible with so it will not operate at those speeds.
  18. SimonDK macrumors member


    Jun 8, 2011
    Sorry if this is hijacking :D

    If you can use boot camp with an external thunderbolt drive, would there be away to use this on multiple computers?

    I want to use the bootcamp, on my (when it comes) rmbp and also on my IMac, would be really cool to use the drive when I'm out and about and then on the iMac when I'm at home :cool:
  19. 01mggt macrumors 6502

    Jun 23, 2010
    Google windows to go. You can (with some work) make a bootable USB with the release preview version that is free form microsoft. There are even youtube videos of it being booted on a MBP and MBA. This will be supported by windows 8.
  20. striker33 macrumors 65816


    Aug 6, 2010
    Slow, but possible?

    Reason being my 128GB SDXC reads at about 45MB/s, which is perfectly fine for me considering I was planning on gaming from it in bootcamp anyway to save on internal storage space.

    I used to boot from an old 20MB/s USB 2 HDD at one point so I can handle the slowness :)
  21. Hrim macrumors member

    Jun 24, 2012
    I should get my MacBook today, the first thing I'll try is to install W7 on that card.
  22. phyrexia macrumors 6502a

    Sep 3, 2010
    This is way wrong. I don't know if a MacBook will allow it, but you can certainly boot Windows from a USB flash drive.
  23. SpyderBite macrumors 65816


    Oct 4, 2011
    You would be violating liscensing agreement by running a single installation of Windows on more than one machine regardless of whether it would work or not.
  24. satchow macrumors 6502

    Jul 11, 2011
    Nope, gotta activate Windows on each different machine and each key will let you activate it only on one.
  25. wiregen macrumors member

    Jun 10, 2004
    Cloned my bootcamp partition using winclone to a usb3 external. It's a no go...

    Bought the seagate thunderbolt adapter and scored some go flex enclosures on eBay for $7 ea.

    Crossing my fingers

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