Multi-boot external hard drive possible?

By Healer ·
In order to save resources I am considering to get an external hard drive USB connected to my Windows 7 Pro 64-bit laptop, to split the external hard drive into several partitions and install one operating system in each partition for testing. Is it possible?

I heard Plop Boot Manager is a good candidate for booting external hard drive.

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First proviso

by OH Smeg Moderator In reply to Multi-boot external hard ...

I'm not expert on things like this but there are several things you need to check first.

The Hardware needs to be able to boot from a USB Device and this will need to be set in the BIOS.

External HDD where never designed to be run 100% of the time. The cases that they are in can not conduct the Heat generated by the HDD away fast enough so the HDD overheats and has a shorter life than it otherwise would.

External HDD's are not in a bulky enclosure so they are more prone to Vibrational Damage which shortens their lives.

If you need to use any External HDD 100% of the time you need a Actively Cooled Case like the MX1 from Antec. These will cure the overheating issue but do little to prevent Vibrational Damage.


I'll leave it to others who have much more experience then me to suggest what else you need to look at.


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It does boot from a USB stick.

by Healer In reply to First proviso

I did check the BIOS of the laptop I was going to use for the purpose. I also tested and made sure that I could boot from a USB drive. I never intended to use it 24/7. Usually my testing is more on exploration of features and functions that takes probably an hour or so than endurance.

I suppose I could use virutal PC or the like for the same purpose but then I find operating systems on virtualization platform are not identical to the regular systems in real terms.

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You may want to look at this aslo

by markp24 In reply to Multi-boot external hard ...


here is a great utility , http://www.hak5.org/episodes/episode-524, the article is for USB flash drives, but will also work on external hard drives, it shows you how to boot multiple OS's from one usb stick (also works for external usb hard drives if the bios supports it) Plop Boot Manager is great, I use it for my VMware to boot to usb for testing these external "multipass" drives i make.

i hope that helps

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Thanks for your input

by Healer In reply to You may want to look at t ...

There's a lot for me to take in there. Please give me some time. I appreciate your generosity and kindness. I also would like to implement something as suggested before I respond.

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give us a thumbs up it its helped you

by markp24 In reply to Thanks for your input


Give those who gave a helpful response a thumbs up , for the record. :-)

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The reason I gave a short response

by Healer In reply to give us a thumbs up it it ...

because I needed time to go through and experiment it. And I have not got around to such a long exercise. As I had said I would respond after I go through what your recommended article said. I certainly appreciate any helpful response. However I didn't know whether it was helpful even though you intended to be helpful until I tried them.

I will certainly give your response a thumbs-up when I find it helpful. I thank you for your kindness and being helpful even though the article might not be helpful until such time I tried them all.

Thank you again!

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no problem

by markp24 In reply to The reason I gave a short ...

Hi, i hope one of the postings works for you. That "multipass" usb stick comes in very handy, I hope it works for you also.
I like the other E sata idea as well from oh' smeg.
good luck :-)

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I will certainly

by Healer In reply to no problem

give your response the thumbs-up after my test. I am just somewhat busy at present and I am also waiting for the equipment. I appreciate your kindness.

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feel free to contact me directly to assist you with the "multipass"

by markp24 In reply to I will certainly

Feel free to contact me if you like to assist with the multipass option.

Hope i can assist you further!

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I followed but I didn't follow.

by Healer In reply to You may want to look at t ...

The way that http://www.hak5.org/episodes/episode-524 advises does not require partitioning the USB drive is great. After trying to follow the whole thing to the letter I didn't really get anything to work. I managed to start the Ophcrack and it said it found no table. I got the backtrack4 in but it wouldn't boot and it had error message referring to FAT 16 partition. Probably it has something to do with the USB being in FAT 16 format whereas the hard disk is in NTFS format.

I think I still need to spend some time on working out all the kernel parameters for the utility software I would like to use.

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