Running games and apps on an external drive when using windows?

Discussion in 'Windows, Linux & Others on the Mac' started by Luis Ortega, Jul 21, 2010.

  1. Luis Ortega macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    May 10, 2007
    Location:
    Fetcham Surrey UK
    #1
    I have a macbook pro with windows 7 using bootcamp and the hard drive partition is filling up. I can't really assign it any more space on the boot drive because I need it for what's running on the osx partition.
    Is it possible to put some games or software on an external drive rather than on the boot drive and run them from there in order to save space on the boot drive?
    I would use a 7200 rpm drive with a firewire 800 connection. Would this affect the performance of the games?
    Thanks for any advice.
     
  2. vistadude macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Jan 3, 2010
    #2
    You can move data files to an external drive, although they will run slower. Putting games on an external drive will make them run way to slow. It will also cause your computer to run very fast. Long / large file transfer causes the macbook fans to get very loud too.
     
  3. aki macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Mar 2, 2004
    Location:
    Japan
    #3
    I have an i7 iMac, with Windows 7 64 bit.

    I have a moderate-sized bootcamp partition (around 100GB from memory).

    I install what I consider to be "core" software (virus and security software, media players and so on) on the bootcamp partition. Everything else I install on an external firewire drive. (From memory 800, in fact, does my iMac even have a firewire 400 port? you'd think I'd know wouldn't you. Oh well.) This includes games, eg. Dragon Age, Fallout 3, Mass Effect 1/2 etc.

    Performance is for me indistinguishable from installs on the internal bootcamp partition.

    Now disclaimer, when I say "indistinguishable", I haven't done any empirical testing, fraps and framerates or anything. I'm talking from my subjective play experience. I can't tell any difference at all.

    I can imagine that if there is some app/game that does a lot of streaming data or something that might cause issues - but I haven't come across any games like that.

    So I imagine it will work fine for you. Try it and see.

    Basically I've adopted the policy of keeping my internal partition "pure" as possible and putting all the gamey junky stuff that I install and uninstall and tweak and mess about with on the external. Keeps it simple. Plus of course as you say solves any space issues.
     
  4. Luis Ortega thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    May 10, 2007
    Location:
    Fetcham Surrey UK
    #4
    Thanks a lot.
    Do you know anything about running Steam games this way? Does it do a lot of streaming that you warn about?
    I am a little ignorant here because I'm asking on behalf of my son who has a unibody 13" mbp with a 250 gb boot drive and he has both osx snow leopard and windows 7 on it and he plays games on both.
    I notice that his hard drive is getting a bit full and I am considering getting him an external drive so he could store and run his games on it and leave his internal hard drive for the apps he uses for school (office, adobe production suite primarily). His windows side is basically just for games.
    Would a modest external ssd drive give better performance in this situation or would it be wasted because of the limitations of the firewire 800 connection?
     
  5. aki macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Mar 2, 2004
    Location:
    Japan
    #5
    I don't use steam so I can't give any hard information. I have read on forums previously that steam apps can get upset if things aren't stored in the expected locations - but I have no idea if this was refering to steam on mac or windows or what version, it may be an old issue. Sorry.

    External storage is pretty cheap these days and an extra HD is never a wasted purchase; so I'd suggest just buying one and trying it. Absolute worst case, your son can keep his steam games on the internal and the rest on the external.

    As regards SSD, again I'm speaking beyond my knowledge - but I would guess that it's not worth the extra cost. I don't know how cheap you can find an external ssd these days but in my experience you pay a premium; and as I game perfectly fine with a "olde worlde" drive I don't see why you couldn't also.

    Re fw800 being a bottleneck, again, I don't know. :eek: Usually when I hear people talking about ssd drives they are talking about internal ones though.
     
  6. Keleko macrumors 68000

    Joined:
    Mar 26, 2008
    #6
    I've been using my external drive to back up the games I'm not playing so I can install new ones. That way I'm still running the games from the internal drive. Steam has a built in archive function to make it easy to back up and restore games installed from it so you don't have to download the whole thing again.
     
  7. aki macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Mar 2, 2004
    Location:
    Japan
    #7
    That's a nifty idea that hadn't occurred to me. I tend to be addicted to games serially rather than in parallel. Could be a good compromise for a laptop with a small internal.
     
  8. Freyqq macrumors 68040

    Joined:
    Dec 13, 2004
    #8
    performance will be identical if you are using esata or firewire, as those protocols are not cpu intensive. USB 2.0 is a bit cpu intensive, so gaming off those drives can drop fps a little. Overall, though, the performance drop is minimal, as when the game is running everything it needs should be in the ram already. All a faster hd does is make the load times faster in between levels.
     

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