Using External Thunderbolt SSD Harddrive as Main Boot for Mac and Windows

Discussion in 'iMac' started by JohnDalberg, Dec 8, 2012.

  1. JohnDalberg macrumors newbie

    Dec 8, 2012
    Hi everyone,

    As the topic says, I'm wondering if it's possible to get a external hard drive, LaCie Little Big Disk for example, and use this drive as booting for mac and windows, instead of the internal hard drive that comes with iMac.

    I've looked hours for answers and was wondering if anyone has a clear answer for this problem. I'm wondering because of the lack of SSD options in the new iMac, and thought of this one as a better alternative, than to join the 1200$ or whatever mac-ssd-club :)

    In case of malfunction of the drive, this also makes much better sense for me. Flame on if i've missed something here and this is utterly impossible.

  2. aneftp macrumors 601

    Jul 28, 2007
    So u want to go out and spend $700-1000 extra for SSD external? Vs spending $250 for built in fusion 128ssd or $1300 for 768 GB sad built in?

    Ball is in our court. Not much savings in my opinion. As for fear of hard drive failure. I never store any essential info inside computer anyways. Its always hard DVD backup or encrypted PDF on the cloud for me.
  3. JohnDalberg thread starter macrumors newbie

    Dec 8, 2012

    Yes, the logic is fair in my opinion, because of the serious overpriced upgrading option in Norway. The price for the 768 gb SDD build would cost 10400 NOK, when the iMac price is 14990 NOK, thats 10/15 or close to 0,7 for a SSD drive. I would almost be better of just buying another iMac in the future (with possible SSD implemented).

    The fusion is not an option because of the lack of fusion in a windows boot partition.

    However I'm just wondering if this would work and if it would work efficient, both for the OS and WIN operating systems.
  4. jkautosports macrumors regular

    Dec 6, 2012
    New York, NY
    I bought my 27" with a regular 7200rpm 3TB HDD. I justified this because:

    1. I noticed that the Lacie 1TB Thunderbolt SSD set up as RAID-0 is less than $1000 right now, and it comes with the cable. Going that route will certainly be faster than fusion. It should actually be just as fast as an internal SATA connection, as the Thunderbolt transfer speed is faster than the maximum transfer speed of the fastest SSD right now. You can even get a Twelvesouth backpack, and nobody will ever know you have an external drive.

    2. Fusion is a temporary thing. It's sole purpose is to bridge the gap between spinning drives and a complete switch to SSD (which we all know is going to happen within a few years).

    3. I could not justify spending $1300 on a full SSD, knowing that buying an equivalent SSD on my own would cost a fraction of that.

    4. The upgrade to a 3TB drive was not much more than the included 1TB drive. It can be used to back up the external SSD later on. I know this is backwards, but who cares?

    SSD technology is always expanding, just like hard drives have been for a long time. Once a 2 or 3TB Lacie is available, a 1TB is obviously going to be cheaper... That's the time to buy it!
  5. MatthewAMEL macrumors 6502


    Oct 23, 2007
    Orlando, FL
    ...and you've obviously decided you aren't going to use Boot Camp on your iMac. That makes your decision easy.

    If I wasn't using Boot Camp, I would order the 3TB Fusion drive.

    If you know (or even suspect) you want to use Boot Camp, you cannot order a unit with the 3TB HDD or 3TB Fusion Drive.
  6. jkautosports macrumors regular

    Dec 6, 2012
    New York, NY
    Honestly, I thought about using Bootcamp.... but for my purposes it isn't necessary. I don't play video games, and to run simple applications like MS Office, Parallels will more than do the job. Plus, I like the idea of using OS X and Windows side-by-side, as opposed to choosing which one to boot to. One example is not being able to view something with Safari, and then opening it in IE via direct link from Safari.... I think the idea is awesome...
  7. petsk macrumors 6502


    Oct 13, 2009
    Northern Europe
    I believe that you cannot install Windows on external drives? Though, in one thread someone claimed that you can install Windows on the external drive if you run OS X off the same external drive.

    Maybe someone can confirm this?

    I saw a review of the LaCie Little Big Disk not long ago and one downside with the drive is that there's a small, high pitch fan inside the alu enclosure, making it pretty noisy.
  8. wmy5 macrumors regular

    Oct 27, 2012
    upstate NY
    No, you cannot boot Windows from an external drive.
  9. EPiCDiNGO macrumors member


    Sep 10, 2012
  10. jkautosports macrumors regular

    Dec 6, 2012
    New York, NY
    Maybe not bootcamp? I have no idea... I can't see why Parallels wouldn't work though... but it all depends on what you need Windows for, I suppose.
  11. JohnDalberg thread starter macrumors newbie

    Dec 8, 2012
    Anyone has confirm this? I've seen OS being booted from external, why shouldnt bootcamp work? Can anyone deleborate?
  12. joe-h2o macrumors 6502a

    Jun 24, 2012

    You can boot windows from an external Thunderbolt drive.

    You can't *install* Windows to an external thunderbolt drive - the installer simply will not see it, but you can install on the internal drive and then use something like Winclone to clone the partition over to the TB disk. With the TB drivers installed in Windows (which you do before cloning it) Windows will happily run from a TB source.
  13. JohnDalberg thread starter macrumors newbie

    Dec 8, 2012
    Cheers, that's good news. Anyone have any experience with this? Any downfall?
  14. simonlf macrumors newbie

    Dec 17, 2013
    So did you succeed in your quest?

    So did you succeed in your quest? I also have a iMac (and living in Denmark it is the same prices as in Norway) and was wondering the same... have you bought the external drive and used it as your main drive?

    The best regards

  15. ender78 macrumors 6502

    Jan 9, 2005
    You're responding to a year old thread. The SSD that comes in the iMac today is SUPER fast [aka 50% faster than most of the high end SATA SSDs that you can buy today.
  16. jaxhunter macrumors regular


    Dec 14, 2012
    I use a SanDisk SSD with the Seagate Thunderbolt adapter. It's super fast and nicely stable. I was using a USB3 enclosure but the iMac kept disconnecting it when it went to sleep. This got resoved after one of the latest updates but it still had some huge performance and stbaility issues. Once I switched over to the Thunderbolt connection all of my issues went away. I'm getting about the same perfomance numbers as people with the internal Apple SSD (mSata, not PCIe) so I'm pretty happy with the results.

    I am not using the SSD for Windows though so I have no idea how that works. My SSD is only 128gb and I didn't want to partition it for Windows.

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