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Has anyone tried running Snow Leopard on an external drive?

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Has anyone tried running Snow Leopard on an external drive?

Postby scottks » Tue May 08, 2012 9:54 pm

I was speaking to tech support at Apple and they suggested that I could install Snow Leopard on an external drive and then I could upgrade the internal drive of my MacBook Pro to Lion. This way, when I needed to run FreeHand or other Rosetta apps, I could restart and select the external drive's system as my startup drive. I realize this will only work for older MacBooks that can run Snow Leopard and not the newer ones.

I also realize this is really not optimal in the long run, but I wondered if anyone has done this before and to what result.

I use FreeHand exclusively for my vector drawings but currently use it only about 2-3 times a month so if this system swap works, that may be enough to allow me to upgrade to Lion to solve other issues I'm having trying to use iCloud.

Thoughts?
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Re: Has anyone tried running Snow Leopard on an external dri

Postby longtran » Fri May 11, 2012 7:28 pm

yes, I have tried it on 2008 iMac. i wouldnt recommend it because its really slow. why don't you partition your HD into 2, 1 for Lion and 1 for Snow Leopard? At the moment on my macbook pro, there are 2 drives, 1 SSD (snow leopard) and 1 HD for storage – which in future will be replaced with Lion/Mountain Lion on an SSD.
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Re: Has anyone tried running Snow Leopard on an external dri

Postby scottks » Fri May 11, 2012 10:14 pm

Thanks so much for the info. I'm fairly maxed out disc space, but hopefully can shift some old files off to then try the partition route.

Also, do you know if I will be able to partition the drive into two drives with the current files in tact or will I have to reinstall the files, etc. after partitioning with my Time Machine backup?
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Re: Has anyone tried running Snow Leopard on an external dri

Postby bishopdante » Fri May 18, 2012 5:21 pm

You can also partition your drive.
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Re: Has anyone tried running Snow Leopard on an external dri

Postby Mig » Sat Jul 07, 2012 1:46 pm

It will run fairly well if you connect the external drive via Firewire 800, eSATA or Thunderbird. Is not a big deal.
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Re: Has anyone tried running Snow Leopard on an external dri

Postby ThePixelDoc » Wed Jul 11, 2012 1:40 pm

However don't forget: this will work with machines from Apple that were originally sold with Snow Leopard or before. You "may" run into problems in the future trying to do this with machines sold with Lion, or in the near future with Mountain Lion. Different hardware with different drivers.

I would be interested if anyone wants to give this a try with the new Retina MBP. I'm almost certain Snow Leopard may experience difficulties.... but I could be... and hope... that I am wrong.

None of my clients are upgrading anything at the moment, soft- or hardware, or I would try myself.
Last edited by ThePixelDoc on Wed Jul 11, 2012 4:11 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Has anyone tried running Snow Leopard on an external dri

Postby ThePixelDoc » Wed Jul 11, 2012 1:43 pm

Clone your drive using any number of utilities, but I like Carbon Copy Cloner best: http://www.bombich.com/
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Re: Has anyone tried running Snow Leopard on an external dri

Postby ThePixelDoc » Wed Jul 11, 2012 1:54 pm

As an addendum to what I wrote above:

if you only plan on using your graphic software i.e. Freehand, Photoshop, etc., clean up your drive first... or best, consider truthfully a new installation, and only copy the preference and setting files to the new installation. Best practice is to keep you data separate on a different partition anyway, always.

As for drives, I personally only use Firewire 800 drives with speeds of 7200 rpm. Don't bother with USB2 or 5400 rpm drives = painfully slow!

Last note: be very careful when partitioning your SSD drive if you have one. If it's a large 256gb SSD, you're safe with 100gb for SL and the rest for Lion/Mountain Lion. Don't ever forget that the system needs space for caching and virtual drive memory functions(!)... even if you've maxed out RAM.

The 128gb drive should remain unpartitioned IMHO.... and my suggestion above as to a FW/7200rpm drive used instead. For most people it works admirably.
Last edited by ThePixelDoc on Wed Jul 11, 2012 4:12 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Has anyone tried running Snow Leopard on an external dri

Postby scottks » Wed Jul 11, 2012 3:26 pm

Thanks so much for all the great advice!
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Re: Has anyone tried running Snow Leopard on an external dri

Postby bpreston » Wed Jul 18, 2012 8:00 pm

Like ThePixelDoc, I too have found great success using Carbon Copy Cloner to create a bootable external Firewire drive. It is a great way to update Mac OS X on your internal drive while preserving your previous system and associated compatible applications.
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