use same external SSD as boot drive on more than one Mac?

April 20, 2018 at 16:04:04
Specs: Mac OS X, .../lots...
I have an SSD (el capitan installed) in a usb housing which I use to boot my Mac Mini. It's supposed to go inside the Mac Mini at some stage as main drive and the original (Mavericks OS) will also be present - as either first of second drive. As it is it works fine...

Question - as I also have a Macbook Pro with el capitan on its only drive.

Can I also use that same usb SSD as an external boot drive on my Macbook as/when I wish, with no risk of problems with that usb SSD?

By that I mean if I boot with it into my Macbook and later return it to my Mac Mini, will it still be OK on the Mini. My hope is that I can use it as an external usb boot drive on either system.

I travel with my Macbook and I would like to have access to what's on the usb SSD (with which I boot my Mac Mini at present) whilst on the road, and still be able to boot my Mini as well from that usb SSD.

One of the reasons I would like to have that SSD with me on the road is that it has some programmes etc. on it which I have yet to install on my Macbook. My Mini is really my main computer nowadays; my Macbook was until I got the Mini. Both have windows on them as well - either via BootCamp or Parallels... - should I need it.

There is also a lot of data on the SSD which is not on the Macbook; and while I can port it over to the Macbook, or have it on another external (portable) source - I prefer not to at this stage. A lot of that data (critical stuff) is also on my NAS so the Macbook can access it that way when at home; and I have another separate SSD in a case for specific video content and that SSD is purely for that content alone.

Incidentally until a few days ago I had that SSD simply attached via usb-sata adapter cable; originally intended as temporary measure pending installation inside the Mini - which has yet to happen. It worked fine even if it was a wee bit slow booting up. A dew days ago I installed the SSD into an Inatek usb3 drive case - "optimised for SSD as they say". The difference in boot time (much reduced) is "significant"... and of course the security and safety of the SSD is much better...

Obviously I don't want to risk trashing the usb SSD which works fine on the Mini by trying to use on the Macbook... The Macbook has its internal SSD with el capitan; the Mini still has its original hd with Mavericks, and the usb SSD has el capitan installed on it - via the Mini.

message edited by trvlr

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April 20, 2018 at 23:00:24
Nothing will happen to the drive - - it's whether it will boot on two different machines that's the real issue - so I suggest you try it, you'll get your answer that way.

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April 30, 2018 at 16:36:06
I finally dun the test..

First simply attached the MacMini drive to the Macbook (usb) and could access all data files - and run all the apps. installed on that MacMini drive and which I tested.

To access data (assorted files etc.) there was no need of passwords . probably as I use the same password for both systems?

Then rebooted and selected the MacMini ssd as boot device. It did so, although was a little slow but it did boot ok. The Macbook is usb 2.0 and thus somewhat slow(er)... The ssd is housed in an Inatek usb 3.0 housing - optimised for ssd...

The only irritation was a whole string of messages tellung me Paragon ntfs has an update, Acronis offering deals, and a few other things similar. Problem was that as fast as I closed a message it re-appeared at the bottom of the list of message windows. All those messages completely covering my desktop icons on the right side of the screen display.; and I couldn’t clear them...

But everything on the desktop was also available via applications. or the dock - with the exception of one or two shortcuts I created on the desktop.

Returning the drive to the MacMini resulted in a rather lenghty (seemingly longer than usual) time to boot. In fact I thought the system had stalled and so forced shutdown, then restarted. This time it took less time too boot and did so ok.

The ssd being external (usb 3.0) in a decent case means one can monitor what’s happening during the boot sequence, by watching the blue indicator led activity... Gives a degree of re-assurance during the boot process,

So... the test does seem to have been successful; which means I could boot from it as a usb device attached to another Mac. And also of course I can access its contents when simply attached as usb device..

The common factor between both MacMini and Macbook Pro is that they are both on el capitan. Whether or not this makes a difference, has an impact - ?

message edited by trvlr

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