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Question About External Hard Drives

Ok, heres my situation:

I recently purchased a new Macbook Pro (2.5ghz, 4g ram, 200g hd @ 7200rpm) and am very excited to start using it. One of the first things I would like to do is get Boot Camp up and running and install Windows. It asks me to partition the drive, and I’m a little unsure about how much room to give Windows seeing as the only thing I’ll be using it for is a game or two (AoC).

My question is this, would I be able to (and by that I mean is it a wise option) give the Windows less hard drive space on my Macbook, and install any games/applications I need for Windows onto an external hard drive, and then run them from it every time I need to?

Money really isn’t an issue here, I’m just looking for the smartest route that would keep all my hardware working like new for as long as I can.

Anyone input would be appreciated, thanks.

You could try OS virtualization. I have VMware Fusion for the Mac and it works great for running Windows applications. There is even something called Unity that puts your windows apps right into OSX so you wouldn’t even know you are running XP in the background. Check it out if this sounds like the right solution.

Or… I have an external HDD and I definitely suggest using Time Machine if you have OSX Leopard. You can get a very large HDD very cheap and partition it. Make your time machine partition larger than your HDD in your MBP. I have a 120gb internal drive and I have a 320 gb external drive. A little overkill for Time Machine but it will keep a LONG history of files for me. Anything larger than your internal HDD would be fine.

One problem you may have it that XP wants to run off NTFS or FAT32 and the Mac runs off HFS+. So get an external, $100 or so, which is entirely worth it for the backing up with time machine, and make a small partition to use for your windows apps. My Mac can read from an NTFS disc but not write or delete.

And to answer your actual question… I would make a small partition for Boot Camp if this is what you want to do. Maybe 4 to 5 gb for XP. And use the windows partition on the external HDD (10-20 gb might work for a few games and random stuff).

Ok, so with that info, I would get the HHD (I would go 320-500gig), making 200-300 gig of that for time machine (I do have leopard), and then whatever is left I can use for Windows, and only partition the actually Macbook enough to install Windows?

That way my Macbook is properly backed up, and I can have all my windows applications without giving it too much room on the actually laptop.

I like the idea of an external for backups/time machine…but for the actual Windows Partition…I’d use the disk IN the machine.

I say that since you’re planning on playing games and sometimes they can be I/O intensive and I wouldn’t want that coming over a slow external link.

You COULD try:

Internal drive: Mac + NTFS JUST for the game install location
External: Backups + XP/Vista (not sure which one you have).

I still think the following would be “better”:

Internal drive: Mac + Windows OS + games
External: BAckups + media library (songs, videos, etc)

May have to play around with it.

Basically I am thinking in the long term, and not wanting to dedicate too much to Windows.

I’m fine with giving it ~10gigs so I could install xp/vista, but I only have 186gigs total of usable space, so I don’t know if I would want to give it more then that.

I’m getting the external either way, it would just calm my nerves a bit to put the game (30gigs) on the external and leave the internal alone for now.

Another side question, would the USB 2.0 cause any problems with loading in the game?

If money is not an issue upgrade your internal Hard Drive, install windows and give it 15-20g. Then get yourself a large external hard drive and back up weekly.

Ask yourself how much space do you actually need, 200 gigs is a decent amount (unless you are editing a lot of video).

Games would run slowly if booted from an external hard drive.

Like the poster just before me said…186GB (200GB rounded) should be plenty of space…unless you have specific needs - where you KNOW you’ll be using more than that.

To give you an idea…

I’m not dual booting my home machine but run Vista Home Premium on a 76GB Raptor drive. Most programs (including games) are installed to this drive.

I do digital photography, and shoot raw…which means for most pics I have a 10MB version of the pic, and a 3 to 4mb version (.jpg).

I have a single folder on my system drive called “tempPics” which is where all pics go first for editing. Once they’re done, they are moved to an external drive.

I don’t know how much space OSX takes up, and you haven’t really said how much OTHER software you plan on installing.

Assuming OSX will be your main OS…and you’re only gonna use Windows for gaming…(meaning no M$ office on windows…etc.)

Looking at “worst case scenario”…
Vista Ultimate requires: 40 GB hard drive with at least 15 GB of available space

Games:
I’m guessing Crysis will be on the higher end of what you would need, and it needs 12GB

If you want only one game installed at a time: I’d go 55GB for Windows

If you want 2 games installed at one time, I’d go 65GB.

Again…these are all just guesses and estimations…depending on what you actually installed, these numbers COULD be lower or higher.

Remember though…games aren’t going to get smaller…only bigger.

And windows, will need patches over time.

As for installing games to an external drive…and making them load from there…I wouldn’t. You MIGHT be able to get away with it, IF you have a graphics card that has 768MB of memory or more…so it can load most everything there, but I still wouldn’t, since it will take forever to load up the game to start.

Ok, well I won’t be doing any long term video editing anytime soon.

I think I’ll just split it up and give maybe 60-70gigs to Windows (which I’ll then install Vista, and Age of Conan, which is 30 gigs). As far as software installed to the OSX side, so far it’s only office, adobe design programs, and some yet to be determined 3d animation program. I think it’s safe to assume 110-120gigs is enough for those programs, considering I can save all work to the external.

I’ll pick up a 500g external for all media (music, videos etc.) and anything that doesn’t require a huge data transport like the games.

I Appreciate all the advice, thanks.

Time Machine will create a ‘Time Machine Backups’ folder on your external drive, so it is pretty well organized and hard to mess up. Put anything you want to store (media, music, videos, etc…) in a seperate folder on your external and you should have no need to partition this drive.

Now that I think of it, I have to try and clean up my other external drive that is NTFS. I can’t write or delete anything on it using OS X. I want to use part of it to make a BOOTABLE copy of my MacBook hard drive. I don’t believe Time Machine itself creates a bootable drive. But it does a great job keeping a good history of files and reassuring me that if I ever had HDD problems, I can recover from it somehow.

Do you think it’s worth it to get a separate external for OSX and Windows?

Or do you think 500g split, maybe 2/3 OSX, will be sufficient for a student.

I realize I could be talking about extreme overkill, but computer isn’t my first language.

nah I think you can partition the drive and get away with one HDD. I only have two because one is an older external I used with windows and I got a newer external when I started using Time Machine. Just was too lazy to clear off the older drive and I got a great deal on the new one.

You can have a partition for Time Machine, one for storage of media files (for your Mac), and another partition for windows. If you so desire.

That would be awesome, but the windows wouldn’t get very much at all, since the only thing I’d be using it for is a couple games.

I think I can figure out how to partition the windows/OSX, and I’m guessing that when you set up time machine to run on the external, it makes its own space?

If this is all correct I shouldn’t have anything to worry about, thanks for the help guys.

This might help http://www.kenstone.net/fcp_homepage/partitioning_tiger.html

Ah it does help thank you.

But it also creates questions, I’m assuming this all takes place after I have partitioned the external to PC/OSX, and then partitioning the OSX even further to give some to time machine, and the rest to data storage. So essentially I’ll have 3 partitions, one for time machine (OSX), one for data (OSX) and one for data (Windows)?