Solved Install AND RUN Windows 7 from USB Flash or External Drive?

December 9, 2015 at 16:23:44
Specs: iOS 10.11.1
I have a MacBook Pro 15" Retina (mid-2014 model) and would like to dual boot (via Bootcamp, I guess) Windows 7.

My MacBook has the small SSD drive. For that reason, and because I don't want to risk getting a virus while running Windows 7, I don't want to install Windows on the Mac's drive. Instead, I would like to install and run it from either a USB 3.0 flash drive or an external SSD drive. Is this possible? If so, how would I do it? I have Windows 7 on a disk (64-bit Home Professional)... and I have an external DVD drive for the Mac. I also have a PC already running Windows 7 and a laptop running Vista.

Every result from my Google search on the subject showed merely how to make Bootcamp install Windows from a USB flash drive (in lieu of a DVD.) I want Windows to be running on the USB flash drive or SSD external when I boot to it.

Thanks, all!

message edited by sqonearth

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December 9, 2015 at 17:32:56
I don't believe it's possible to install an OS on an external device. Windows needs to be installed on the machine so it can pick up the drivers and configure the hardware for one thing. An external hard drive or jump drive is just storage.

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December 10, 2015 at 13:26:36
That's what I thought, too, Grasshopper. However, I've found various instructions online for installing Windows 7 to a USB flash drive using VirtualBox ( - maybe these instructions are for installing a "portable" version of windows?

If it's possible to do it on a USB flash drive using Windows virtualization software, couldn't the same thing be accomplished using Fusion 8 or Parallels?


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December 10, 2015 at 14:34:51
✔ Best Answer
squonearth, I see on your post that your main concern is infecting your mac if you get a virus on your Win 7 installation. I don't think you could infect the mac because the operating systems use a different format on the hard drive. A usb jump drive is highly unreliable and has been known to crash without warning. Even if you could install it and run it on a VM, you will still need antivirus software running on the windows partition. I don't believe a virus could cross contaminate your mac, because the virus was written for a windows environment. Instead of buying software for the VM, why not buy an external hdd and use that for storage etc. to extend your hdd on your mac. I can't tell you what to do, it's your call, but don't use a jump drive for anything you want to keep.

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December 10, 2015 at 15:35:57
Thanks, Grasshopper. Viruses are my main concern... so if it's not possible to infect my Mac while running Windows in a separate partition, I think I'll take your suggestion. Now all I need to decide is whether to use Bootcamp or whether I need Fusion or Parallels. I think I read that Bootcamp will be faster, because the Mac won't be splitting its resources having to simultaneously run Windows in a virtual machine.

Thanks again!

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December 10, 2015 at 17:16:20
I think I would just use Bootcamp. It was designed for the Mac. Good Luck to you.

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