Using External Thunderbolt as main hard drive questions

Discussion in 'iMac' started by Kashsystems, Oct 16, 2013.

  1. Kashsystems macrumors 6502

    Jul 23, 2012
    My hard drive is failing on my 2011 iMac 21 inch.

    I am in the middle of a few projects that I do not have the leeway to be down without my iMac for a day. I have backups of everything but my biggest issue is my iMac is taking a huge performance hit because of this. I already wiped it clean and used an utility to mark bad sectors but it is getting progressively worst.

    I was thinking about using the Lacie Esata hub to hookup an esata drive to boot off or even the Buffalo Thunderbolt Mini Station

    Will this work as a solution until I caught up on my projects and have time to have it repaired?

    Is there any problems with doing this and using Parallels also?

    Any feedback or input is appreciated.
  2. Bear macrumors G3

    Jul 23, 2002
    Sol III - Terra
    I won't speak to the specific hardware you mention, but yes booting from an external drive does work and Parallels won't be an issue. I do recommend you don't even try and use the failing drive once you have everything off of it you need.
  3. Kashsystems thread starter macrumors 6502

    Jul 23, 2012
    Thank you
  4. yjchua95 macrumors 604

    Apr 23, 2011
    GVA, KUL, MEL (current), ZQN
    On a side note, don't attempt to boot from a USB 2 drive. It'll be horrendously slow because of the 480Mbps transfer rate (60MB/s). Go for at least USB 3 (5Gbps = 625MB/s theoretical max transfer rate) or a Thunderbolt drive. Thunderbolt will be better, because it's even faster than SATA3's max of 6 Gbps. Unless, your internal drive is a PCIe-based SSD (like mine).
  5. Kashsystems thread starter macrumors 6502

    Jul 23, 2012
    Unfortunately the model I bought only has USB 2 which is why I am going for Thunderbolt.
  6. Fishrrman macrumors G5


    Feb 20, 2009
    USB2 booting will no doubt be slower than booting from the internal bus, but once up-and-running, you won't notice a speed difference.

    I've been doing this for years with my 2007 white Intel iMac. Again, the boot is slower, but once running, it runs just fine.

    That said, I don't think e-SATA is bootable at all (others please correct me if I'm wrong).

    If you don't want to open up the iMac (perfectly understandable), looks like an external Thunderbolt drive might be the best choice in this situation...
  7. MrGimper macrumors 603


    Sep 22, 2012
    Andover, UK
    I believe the OP is talking about connecting eSATA drives to a Lacie hub, which connect to the iMac via TB
  8. macthefork macrumors 6502

    Feb 2, 2013
    I used the Seagate Thunderbolt adapter with a SSD for a while and it was flawless, booting from and otherwise. You can get the adapter by itself or with a 3TB Seagate drive here. This combo is currently being used as a scratch disk and storage for photoshop and still works flawlessly and is as fast as an internal. I think it may be a cheaper alternative.

    Your suggestion with eSATA would be equally as fast, I believe.
  9. Kashsystems thread starter macrumors 6502

    Jul 23, 2012
    I actually bought the one you linked today. It will be here next week. I wanted the extra tb port so I can daisy chain to the monitor. That 199 is a great price as when it was released last year it sold for 400. They have a newer model for 343 but this should work just as well.
  10. macthefork macrumors 6502

    Feb 2, 2013
    Yes it will work fine. If you're going to use it as a boot device, be sure check that it's formatted Mac OS-Extended (journaled) (also known as HFS+) With a GUID partition table, in Disk Utility. If it isn't it's easy to reformat.

    You will likely have to pick up a Thunderbolt cable with this item. Mine didn't come with one. The more expensive, newer version apparently includes it.
  11. mooncaine macrumors regular

    Dec 19, 2004
    Tried booting from Buffalo 1TB Ministation - meh

    I've got a few Buffalo 1 terabyte Ministation Thunderbolt drives. I used SuperDuper! to clone my MBP's internal SSD as a sandbox system -- that is, the system is cloned, but user files aren't.

    The drive inside is a 5400 rpm, and it behaved about like I would have expected from a FireWire drive, speedwise, when I booted from it. Meh. Not a disappointment to me, since I didn't expect more. It wasn't fast enough that I wanted to boot from it again. Running apps like Photoshop or Ableton Live was not fast enough to make me try it twice.

    They're nice and speedy for Time Machine and SuperDuper! backups, and it's convenient to have bus power. Not so great that it's a dead-end: no 2nd Thunderbolt port on it, but for my uses, that's OK. I'm not carrying it around. It may look portable, but it's delicate. The price was good for such a speedy 1TB drive, I think.

    I broke one 20 minutes after plugging it in for the first time. It's my fault. I had it plugged in to my laptop, and I stood up, picking up the laptop... and the drive dangled from the Thunderbolt cable and tumbled 2 feet to a carpeted floor. It never worked again. I didn't complain to the maker, because I dropped it. I learned a valuable lesson. Now I am more careful. I treat it like it's made of glass and eggshell. No probs with the other 2 drives.
  12. richorlin macrumors regular

    Sep 19, 2007
    Booting an iMac from an SSD

    I am currently booting my iMac from a Samsung 840 Pro 256gb SSD drive using a Seagate Thunderbolt sled. It is flawless and as fast as , or even faster than my 2013 Macbook Air because of the SSD drive. I keep the OS and all my apps on the SSD and my home folder on the internal drive. You, of course, will have to use a different drive for your home folder. Entire setup, sled, drive and t-bolt cable should run you under $300 if you shop around. The Samsung EVO line is cheaper and just as good as the Pro.
  13. Mike Oxard macrumors 6502a

    Mike Oxard

    Oct 22, 2009
    I recently set up a sdd connected using a goflex fw800 adapter to be the boot drive of my 2008 imac. I had it like that for about a month until I had time to fit it into the imac properly ( which turned out to be very easy, took less than an hour to do) while running on the fw800 it was still very fast and totally usable.
  14. Chippy99 macrumors 6502a

    Apr 28, 2012
    Yes, anecodotally, I ran an external SSD as my boot disk (via Thunderbolt) for many months on a 2011 Mac Mini, before finally transplanting the same SSD inside the Mini.

    I had expected to see faster boot times or perhaps slightly improved overall performance with the SSD inside the mini. But to my surprise, I couldn't tell any difference at all. If I had to pick, I would say it was slightly faster with the SSD external, for some bizarre reason. Probably my imagination since there was so little in it though. To all intents and purposes, running the SSD inside or outside made zero difference.
  15. JamesPDX Suspended


    Aug 26, 2014
    You could remove the drive entirely from the machine. For me? I've purchased my last enclosure. It's probably the smartest purchase I've made since going over to SSDs. It's all SSD, and I can swap out a 2.5" spinner to make a clone whenever I want. This thing has two thunderbolt ports and a built-in power supply. No fans and it's rack-mountable. And you can daisy-chain these things to whatever.

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