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Thunderbolt 2 question concerning startup off external drive
Posted by: MacArtist
Date: October 29, 2020 07:40PM
Dealing with an iMac late 2015 1.6 i5 21” display, 8GB RAM

Have a friend who owns the above iMac. Internal 2.5 5400 rpm HDD has started to show signs of failing. Can boot up off USB3 external drive and runs fine.

This iMac has 2 Thunderbolt 2 ports. I don’t have any experience with Thunderbolt.

My thinking was...using an external Thunderbolt enclosure with an SSD. Apple makes a Thunderbolt 2 to Thunderbolt 3 adapter. I read somewhere that the external Thunderbolt drive must be powered for it to work as a startup drive. Is that accurate?

For simplicity sake, I was hoping to use a bus powered TB3 enclosure with the Apple TB2 to TB3 adapter. (TB2 external single drive cases are nowhere to be found in the timeframe I’m dealing with). This iMac came with only 8GB of RAM that isn’t upgradable. I was thinking a faster external drive would give this iMac some much needed zip and eliminate seeing the beach ball. I’d rather not go to the trouble to replace the internal drive.

Am I way far off or should I just go with a USB3 external case with a 2.5” SSD and call it a day.

The iMac owner uses it for basic computer needs.

Thanks!



I sit on a man’s back, choking him and making
him carry me, and yet assure myself and others
that I am very sorry for him and wish to ease his
lot by all possible means — except by getting off
his back. - Leo Tolstoy, novelist and Philosopher
(1828-1910)

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Re: Thunderbolt 2 question concerning startup off external drive
Posted by: jdc
Date: October 29, 2020 07:53PM
Forget about TBolt 2. Its too expensive and too hard to find. Sadly, the apple TB 2 to 3 adapter doesnt work in the way you are thinking.... its opposite. It turns a TBolt 2/mini display port connection into TBolt 3/USB C type connection.

You are on the right track with USB 3 + SSD.

I would substitue the SSD option for a NVMe drive + USB 3 case... about the same cost. But if truly on a budget, 2.5" SSDs are less.

I do waaaaaaay more than "basic computer needs" with my 2014 iMac and use the NVMe + USB 3 case setup.





Edited 999 time(s). Last edit at 12:08PM by jdc.
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Re: Thunderbolt 2 question concerning startup off external drive
Posted by: Gareth
Date: October 29, 2020 08:00PM
Quote
MacArtist
My thinking was...using an external Thunderbolt enclosure with an SSD. Apple makes a Thunderbolt 2 to Thunderbolt 3 adapter. I read somewhere that the external Thunderbolt drive must be powered for it to work as a startup drive. Is that accurate?

The Apple TB2/TB3 adapter doesn't pass bus power, which is why the drive would need to be self powered. If you had an actual TB2 case then you can use it bus-powered as a start-up drive (I do quite often with a Seagate "sled" adapter for 2.5" drives).

Quote
MacArtist
For simplicity sake, I was hoping to use a bus powered TB3 enclosure with the Apple TB2 to TB3 adapter.

Unfortunately, won't work, b/c of the lack of bus power with the adapter.

As JDC says, just stick with USB 3. Cheaper and more than enough for basic computer needs.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 10/29/2020 08:06PM by Gareth.
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Re: Thunderbolt 2 question concerning startup off external drive
Posted by: Gareth
Date: October 29, 2020 08:04PM
Quote
jdc
Sadly, the apple TB 2 to 3 adapter doesnt work in the way you are thinking.... its opposite. It turns a TBolt 2/mini display port connection into TBolt 3/USB C type connection.

The Apple TB2/TB3 adapter is bi-directional, so it will work either way, but since it doesn't pass bus-power, it's of no help in this situation where the cases you'd want to use are all bus-powered.
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Re: Thunderbolt 2 question concerning startup off external drive
Posted by: jdc
Date: October 29, 2020 08:12PM
Quote
Gareth
The Apple TB2/TB3 adapter is bi-directional, so it will work either way, but since it doesn't pass bus-power, it's of no help in this situation where the cases you'd want to use are all bus-powered.

Thanks for the clarification.





Edited 999 time(s). Last edit at 12:08PM by jdc.
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Re: Thunderbolt 2 question concerning startup off external drive
Posted by: MacArtist
Date: October 30, 2020 12:44AM
Thanks for the information and advice.



I sit on a man’s back, choking him and making
him carry me, and yet assure myself and others
that I am very sorry for him and wish to ease his
lot by all possible means — except by getting off
his back. - Leo Tolstoy, novelist and Philosopher
(1828-1910)

Options:  Reply • Quote
Re: Thunderbolt 2 question concerning startup off external drive
Posted by: datbeme
Date: October 30, 2020 08:20AM
In addition to what the others said, I don't think your friend would ever notice the difference in performance between TB 2 and USB 3 anyway. I doubt I would, and I've booted from SSDs connected via USB 3 for years.
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