Running Bootcamp on an External Drive

It’s possible, and it makes life better!

Although I’ve been running Bootcamp for years on my iMac, it has never really performed as well as it could due to the fact that the Bootcamp partition can only use the HD portion of a Fusion Drive, and the HD portion of a Fusion drive when used on its own is really very piss poor.

So last weekend, after I accidentally corrupted my Bootcamp partition anyway, I took the leap and recreated it on an external Thunderbolt 240GB SSD drive. The external drive  is partitioned as 180GB for primary Windows partition, leaving 60GB for a Bitlocker encrypted work partition. Switching on Bitlocker for the primary partition did not seem to be an option, but maybe there is a way if you really wanted to do that.

The end result is that I now have a super fast booting Windows10 installation, and a near silent PC. With the added bonus that it also works like a dream in VMWare Fusion (including immediate access to that second encrypted partition without any dicking around transferring USB devices to the virtual machine, which is what I was having to do previously). I have also since removed the old Bootcamp partition from my main HD, thus restoring it to a 1TB OSX Fusion drive as was intended.

Another real plus with this is that I can now plug this external drive into any other modern Mac and boot into native Windows10 session.

Required:

  • Mac with Thunderbolt
  • External Thunderbolt Drive (SSD preferably)
  • Existing Bootcamp partition (or disk image)
  • Winclone (to move the partition and make the destination bootable)