External SSD boot drive...

Discussion in 'Apple' started by JohnRice, Aug 8, 2012.

  1. JohnRice

    JohnRice Lead Actor

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    I mentioned this in another thread, but I got the itch for more speed while I wait for the iMac refresh likely to be coming, so I got a 128GB Samsung SSD Drive and a USB 3.0/FireWire 800 external enclosure to try as a boot drive on my late 2009 Mac Mini. It arrived today and I zeroed it out (which I always do with new drives) and transferred my internal boot drive. I'm using 10.7.4, for anyone interested.
    Yes, the enclosure has bad reviews, but if you read them you'll realize it's because the people reviewing them don't know what they are talking about and/or didn't do the proper research. I got that (rather expensive) enclosure because it is by far the cheapest I found with both USB 3 and FireWire 800, but there are issues I'll explain later, so read the end if that is something you plan on doing.
    BTW, I got the desktop drive kit because at the time it was the same price as the bare drive and I thought the 3.5" bracket might come in handy some day.
    I intended to connect with FireWire 800, which works when the drive is the only thing connected, but I have 5 other FireWire drives and once they were all connected (with the SSD first), it wouldn't boot from it. It saw the drive and let me select it during startup, but then it just sat there and the wheel spun on the screen. In the long run I plan to use USB 3.0 on a new iMac, so for now I am connecting it straight to a USB 2.0 port, so it doesn't have to share any bandwidth.
    The boot time didn't improve by any drastic amount, going from 60 to 45 seconds, but the computer has to let several external drives spin up before starting. That wasn't where I expected or wanted an improvement anyway. Once it is running, even just using a rather slow USB 2.0 connection it is like a brand new computer. EVERYTHING is faster. I expected faster app loading, but I didn't expect them to run SO MUCH faster once they were going. A big surprise was that downloads (to the SSD) were 2-3 times faster, which I first noticed on a OS update.
    Basic little things like loading and scrolling web pages, and especially printing, absolutely FLY! Even though I am hampered some by 4GB RAM. I can't wait to get this on a USB 3.0 equipped iMac with 20GB of RAM and a Quad Core processor.
    I know that by using USB 2 I am limiting the drive to roughly 20% of its maximum bandwidth, but my understanding was that with how the Mac OS works, I'd still get an huge boost due to its virtually 0 access time. That has proven to be true.
    I can't recommend this upgrade highly enough. Doing it this way may have some bandwidth limitations vs. an Apple internal, but it only cost $150 compared to Apple's $600 (?) price.
     
  2. JohnRice

    JohnRice Lead Actor

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    It's been a couple hours now and it's blowing my mind how much faster this is.
     
  3. Sam Posten

    Sam Posten Moderator
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    So you can boot from external to OSX with no issue but boot camping to win7/8 on an external is still verboten!
     
  4. JohnRice

    JohnRice Lead Actor

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    I forgot to mention that. I know you told me that using an external with Boot Camp doesn't work, however I do know that external drives do work with Parallels on a regular Mac partition.
     
  5. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Administrator
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    John,

    We have been strongly persuading to TonyD
    to upgrade to an SSD drive in another thread.

    I am happy you are here to spread the gospel
    of how much faster these drives are.

    I wasn't in the market for a new iMac this year,
    but I am so blown away by the speed of my new
    Macbook Pro with SSD that I never want to deal
    with a normal hard drive again.

    Thanks for your report.
     
  6. JohnRice

    JohnRice Lead Actor

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    Ron, I can't wait to try this on USB 3.0.
     
  7. JohnRice

    JohnRice Lead Actor

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    Sam's comments that it's not allowed to run Windows 7 from an external drive had me concerned about what I was hoping to do with one of the computers at work, which runs Windows through Parallels, but not using Boot Camp.
    This Article clearly shows that you CAN do this using Parallels, but not with Boot Camp. The article is about 18 months old, but it clearly shows Windows 7 being installed on an external drive.
     
  8. HDvision

    HDvision Screenwriter

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    Just gotten a Mac Mini 2.5 intel core i5 and after testing it with the resident horrible Toshiba 5400 hard drive inside, I took it apart, and switched for a 7200 500 gb seagate HD + a Vertex 2 80gb SSD that is now trim enabled and up to date.

    Quite simple, I now boot in less than 8 seconds. All apps launch instantly. I can now type as fast as I think, without the computer getting behind.

    I can't imagine how fast it may be with a Vertex 3 SSD (in theory, double the speed I already have).

    Why didn't I bought a III? Simple, I have no money left and this SSD was in my old PPC (and allowed it to live 2 more years for a total of 9 years of intense, 15 hours day use) so I recycled it.

    Once you taste the speed of the SSD, (especially if you put it inside the computer), you can't go back.
     
  9. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Administrator
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    Quote:

    Amen!
     
  10. JohnRice

    JohnRice Lead Actor

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    It really is amazing, but I also think that starting with Lion, the Mac OS almost requires an SSD to run properly. I am running it externally mainly because I don't plan to keep this Mini more than a couple months and this is the previous design, which I am not comfortable opening. Besides, this one doesn't hold two drives unless I exclude the optical.
    One boot difference I see is that not only does the desktop appear faster, but once it does everything is ready to go. My Kensington Expert Mouse is configured and nothing else to wait for. With a regular drive the computer wasn't REALLY up and running for as long as another minute. Firefox also used to take probably another 30 seconds after it appeared before it was really running.
    There is a local authorized Apple service station who will install your hardware for $40, so if I get a next generation iMac, I'm sure I'll have them put the drive. Of course, now I'm wondering if something radically new (and hopefully cheaper) is coming in Mac Pros in which case I might get one and be able to install it myself.
     
  11. Ken Chan

    Ken Chan Producer

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    I am running Lion off an external SSD right now. There is one more drive on the FireWire chain, but uses an AC adapter. The SSD is bus-powered, and is the first device connected to the Mac.
    How much of that is because Windows still does not like to be installed on, or booted from an external drive? Even for Windows 8, it seems like the best you can find are "simple" 12-step hacks to get it working. Boot Camp is (1) UI for non-destructive repartitioning, and (2) Windows drivers for Mac hardware. Intel Macs have BIOS compatibility and emulation over EFI in their firmware. Windows 7/8 are supposed to be installable on EFI machines anyway. Now it wouldn't surprise me at all if there was some coincidence of gotchas that prevent it from actually working on Macs, and that even if it was just a "minor" fix, it is low on Apple's priority list. But that doesn't mean it is "verboten" by fiat.
    If I had several hours to kill, I certainly have the parts lying around. It would be... instructive to try and get it to work.
     
  12. Sam Posten

    Sam Posten Moderator
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    Lets put it this way: I would personally pay over $100 to get a way for it to work repeatably and reliably.
    And yes it seems its a MS issue more than Apple.
    If you could buy 1 gig ssds for reasonable dough that would be an option too
     
  13. JohnRice

    JohnRice Lead Actor

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    Sam, I don't completely understand what you want to do, but I do know for certain you can boot windows from an external drive with a Parallels disk image. I've never used boot camp.
     
  14. Sam Posten

    Sam Posten Moderator
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    I want to run games at native speed from an SSD in Windows. So Parallels is no good for that. I use parallels, it is great for all non 2012 games. If you want the best tho you gotta go Bootcamp and preferably on SSD
     
  15. JohnRice

    JohnRice Lead Actor

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    OK. I get it now.
     
  16. TonyD

    TonyD Who do we think I am?
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    i doubt it would be worth it for me to buy windows just so i can put it on my Air only for
    one or two programs that arent available on a Mac such as DVD Profiler,
    But if I could do it on an external that would be nice.
    If not and I do use bootcamp or whatever would do it, how much disc space would i need to run this program and windws on the Air.
     
  17. JohnRice

    JohnRice Lead Actor

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    I'm confused what people are asking. I do know that Parallels (according to Sam, not using Boot Camp) will run from an external boot. I have done it using both USB 2.0 and FireWire. I would say you need to allot at least 20GB, but it could be more depending on the software. I would say 40GB is a safe bet. Also, 4GB of RAM is the bare minimum, but 6-8 would be better.
     
  18. HDvision

    HDvision Screenwriter

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    W7 needs at least 40gb if you install it in x64. The os alone takes about 22gb with all the updates.
     
  19. JohnRice

    JohnRice Lead Actor

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    FWIW, the Parallels disk image expands as needed. You just need to make sure the drive is big enough.
     

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