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  1. #1


    Member Since
    Apr 15, 2014
    Posts
    3
    Running Windows on an external hard drive
    Hello,

    I have a late 2012 MBP with retina display/apple SSD. My OS is 10.9.2.

    My issue = that i have a certain program that I need to use for work that is windows only. My work computer is also my personal computer. Basically, I need to run Windows 7 on my MBP. I do not want to bi-partition my internal drive because I've heard SSD performance decreases as % available space decreases.

    Thus, I came up with the idea of making a bootable Windows 7 partition on an external hard drive. My company was nice enough to buy me an external HD with thunderbolt and USB and a copy of Windows 7.

    What I've done so far:

    1-I successfully made a bipartition w/ Windows 7 + the Mac drivers installed on my internal HD (this has gotten much more buggy compared when I used Bootcamp a few years ago).

    2-I then used Disk Utility's ''restore'' feature. I set the operational Windows 7 partition on my internal HD as the ''source'' and a partition on my external HD as the ''destination''.

    When I try to boot from the external drive, it always fails. I can do a similar process in reverse and it works (i.e. erase the Windows 7 partition on my internal HD, create a new partition on my internal HD, use Disk Utility's ''restore'' with my external as ''source'' and the new internal partition as ''destination'').


    Any help would be much appreciated!

  2. #2

    Bob_Stan's Avatar
    Member Since
    Jun 17, 2011
    Posts
    311
    Specs:
    Mac Pro 3.5 Ghz 6 Core XEON, 1TB SSD,64GB . MBPro 2.2Ghz 480GB SSD, 500GB HD, 16GB
    I have had good luck running Windows programs under Parallels 9 on my iMac. You could install Parallels and use the external drive for the Virtual Windows disk(s). In Coherence mode you can run the Windows program almost like a native Mac program while still using all your other Mac programs. Just a thought.

  3. #3


    Member Since
    Apr 15, 2014
    Posts
    3
    how much disk space would this take up?

  4. #4

    Slydude's Avatar
    Member Since
    Nov 15, 2009
    Location
    North Louisiana, USA
    Posts
    9,680
    Specs:
    2.8 GHz MacBook Pro 10.11, 8 GB mem, iPhone 6+
    Depends upon how big a partition you want to create / how much Windows space you need. Here's a thought though if speed is not your primary concern. Store the virtual machine on an external hard drive. Here's a brief description using Virtual Box but is should work with other programs as well.

    The virtualization software (Virtual Box, Fusion, Parallels) needs to be on the SSD but the Windows files can be on the external drive if I am understanding correctly. Until recently I ran a Fusion virtual machine with XP that way.

    This might also be helpful. It's for Parallels but the Fusion process should be similar. Windows virtual machine on an external drive.
    Sylvester Roque Former Contributing Editor About This Particular Macintosh

    "Got Time to breathe. You got time for music." Denver Pyle as Briscoe Darling

  5. #5

    harryb2448's Avatar
    Member Since
    Nov 28, 2007
    Location
    Nambucca Heads Australia
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    21,850
    Specs:
    Imac 27" Retina 3.3GHz, 512GB Flash, 16GB memory, OS X.11.4.
    And Microsoft does not allow installation of Windows directly to an external drive ~ part of their 'anti-piracy' measures. There are work arounds
    Hang on to those original install discs like grim death! Using OS X.7 or later make a bootable USB thumb drive before running Installer!

  6. #6

    Bob_Stan's Avatar
    Member Since
    Jun 17, 2011
    Posts
    311
    Specs:
    Mac Pro 3.5 Ghz 6 Core XEON, 1TB SSD,64GB . MBPro 2.2Ghz 480GB SSD, 500GB HD, 16GB
    The Parallels installation takes very little space on your hard drive. The Virtual disks it creates can be any size. I am using 2 250GB virtual disks, but that is only because I run a lot of windows development under Parallels. Works well for me and the programs operate with no appreciable difference in speed from when they were running on a real windows machine. Of course I do have a lot of memory.

  7. #7


    Member Since
    Apr 15, 2014
    Posts
    3
    Quote Originally Posted by harryb2448 View Post
    And Microsoft does not allow installation of Windows directly to an external drive ~ part of their 'anti-piracy' measures. There are work arounds
    what are the work arounds?

    my company paid for a Windows 7 license specifically for this application. this is not pirated material.

  8. #8

    chscag's Avatar
    Member Since
    Jan 23, 2008
    Location
    Fort Worth, Texas
    Posts
    48,204
    Specs:
    Late 2013 27" iMac, iPad 3, iPhone 6s+, iPhone 6+, 3 iPods, El Capitan
    what are the work arounds?
    One way is to use virtual software as suggested by member Bob_Stan; any other way we leave up to you to dig it out. As Harry stated, Microsoft does not allow any version of Windows to be installed directed on external media because of licensing restrictions. It doesn't matter that your copy of Windows 7 is legal.

  9. #9

    harryb2448's Avatar
    Member Since
    Nov 28, 2007
    Location
    Nambucca Heads Australia
    Posts
    21,850
    Specs:
    Imac 27" Retina 3.3GHz, 512GB Flash, 16GB memory, OS X.11.4.
    Never suggested it was ~ just the external install Microsoft do not allow.
    Hang on to those original install discs like grim death! Using OS X.7 or later make a bootable USB thumb drive before running Installer!

  10. #10


    Member Since
    Nov 09, 2011
    Posts
    252
    Specs:
    15" rMBP Mid-2014 ~ iPad 4 16GB ~ iPhone 6 Plus 16GB
    Pseu,

    Get yourself a trial version of Fusion or Parallels. Follow their instructions as to how to install Windows in a VM that runs off your internal SSD. Since you only need to run one program on Win 7, and assuming it doesn't require excessive resources, keep the VM's HDD size modest (min. For 64-bit Windows 7 is 20GB). You can also remove Windows features that you won't be using to reduce your requirement further. Allocate at least 2GB RAM for the VM.

    This approach has the following benefits:
    • You don't need to dual-boot. Run OSX and Windows simultaneously.
    • Your OSX partition remains intact.
    • You're keeping MS happy.
    • If you don't want to continue on this route, just delete the VM and uninstall Fusion or Parallels and it only would've cost you a bit of time.


    I have 16GB on both a 2011 21.5" iMac and a 2012 15" MBP and sometimes run up to 3 VMs with no problem at all. I'd say definitely the way to go!

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