Windows 8.1 on External Drive for Bootcamp

Anim

macrumors 6502a
Original poster
Dec 16, 2011
614
22
Macclesfield, UK
My musings....

I am (while twiddling my fingers) trying to find a good reliable solution to offload everything except the boot part of the windows OS to a permanently attached external drive. e.g. Most big applications, data, steam folders.

Thunderbolt 1 enclosures don't have much benefit over USB3 at the moment due to the premium price?

As Thunderbolt 2 is so rare the alternative is USB3 but I have read reports that it uses CPU cycles when being accessed more so than Thunderbolt which can hamper the entire process, is that true?

What is windows 8.1 support for Thunderbolt going to be like?

Anyway, looking at USB3, Buffalo have released a fast USB3 3TB with 1GB memory for cache which is meant to be faster than any single external TB1 storage drive available at the moment (Including Pegasus, Lacie etc). It gets award reviews from the magazines but if you read user reports it seems to be a bit of hit and miss with reliability.
http://www.amazon.co.uk/Buffalo-Dri...F8&qid=1388741014&sr=1-1&keywords=buffalo+DDR

So, for decent speeds and a good quality drive, that leaves something like the Pro range of SSD's, these are rated for 5 years instead of 3 as in the Samsung 840 Series Pro 512GB:
http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/...act_title_2?ie=UTF8&psc=1&smid=A1Q4S4N53SL9OW

And pair that up with a USB 3 enclosure for a huge cost reduction compared to a Thunderbolt enclosure. At random, I found this one:
http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B00D1NR9MA/ref=ox_sc_act_title_1?ie=UTF8&psc=1&smid=A5JH7MGCI556L

That enclosure doubles up as a disk cloner which I thought would be helpful too.

Is it best to partition the internal SSD for windows and install big apps onto the external or Install everything (including the boot) on the external?


Any thoughts, suggestions, random observations?

Thanks
Anim
 

dermike

macrumors regular
Sep 19, 2013
120
32
Stockholm, Sweden
To my knowledge it's not possible to use bootcamp on external drive...
I'm gonna make a 128GB partition for bootcamp and then use an external drive for games and apps.
 

Anim

macrumors 6502a
Original poster
Dec 16, 2011
614
22
Macclesfield, UK
Yeah, a bit too much of "super careful" and "if you're lucky" for my taste though. :)
haha, yeah. there is that. But it seems people can do it rather than it is unsupported.

I guess having the boot on an external drive helps protect your entire system if you get a virus in windows (had 2 in the last 5 years) and it tries to mess with the boot record at least it won't take out OSX with it.

Hmmm.
 

dermike

macrumors regular
Sep 19, 2013
120
32
Stockholm, Sweden
haha, yeah. there is that. But it seems people can do it rather than it is unsupported.

I guess having the boot on an external drive helps protect your entire system if you get a virus in windows (had 2 in the last 5 years) and it tries to mess with the boot record at least it won't take out OSX with it.

Hmmm.
Can Windows viruses really damage EFI? Anyone know?
 

Anim

macrumors 6502a
Original poster
Dec 16, 2011
614
22
Macclesfield, UK
Can Windows viruses really damage EFI? Anyone know?
I don't know if scrambling the entire boot partition would affect OSX, google is littered with yes, no, don't know and maybes. I guess if you have software installed that allowed windows to access mac volumes then you run a risk there.
 

ActionableMango

macrumors G3
Sep 21, 2010
9,513
6,772
I've personally tested USB2 CPU overhead at about 10%, only when transferring data of course. The speed of the CPU doesn't seem to matter; it's always about 10%. I don't know about USB3 CPU overhead.

USB3 is fast enough for single rotational drives not in an array. Unless your Windows workflow is heavy on CPU usage while simultaneously heavily transferring data over USB, I wouldn't worry about the speed.

As for bootcamp not working over external drives, it is an interesting dilemma. nMP cannot add internal drives and bootcamp does not support external drives. That means nMP boot camp users have no choice but to split up the SSD space.

Apple should add a drive interface to the left GPU board to support a second drive.
 

Hellhammer

Moderator emeritus
Dec 10, 2008
22,164
581
Finland
What you can do (tested and confirmed on my 2010 MBA) is to first install Windows to a partition in the SSD and then create a Windows To Go image to an external drive. It's a feature only supported by Windows 8 Enterprise but it's at least an option.
 
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