sleves
Contributor
Contributor

Boot Camp or Not?

We are relatively new to the Mac world. We have a requirement to run both Windows and Mac apps on a MacBook Pro (2.4GHZ Core 2 Duo, 2GB RAM) currently running OS X 10.4.10

We currently have a VM running Windows XP Professional created in Fusion but are concerned about its stability. It is working fine now but has previously crashed resulting in us having to revert to a previous snapshot and losing all our data created since the snapshot was taken.

If we were to have created a boot camp partition and pointed to that instead of creating the VM in Fusion, would we have been able to retain the data we created after the snapshot?

I guess what we are asking is 'what are the pros and cons for using boot camp with Fusion?' We definitely need to be able to transfer data between the two OS's, so boot camp alone is not a viable option.

thanks

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9 Replies
rcardona2k
Immortal
Immortal

Boot Camp partition pros:

1. Dual bootable on the hardware

2. Access to all native devices: 3D graphics card, Expresscard slot, Firewire 400/800, 100% USB compatibility, all host RAM, all host disks

Boot Camp partition cons:

1. Hard to backup, e.g. must use a third-party utility like WinClone

2. Not portable unless you count #1.

3. Only supports Apple-supported OS's, e.g. 32-bit XP and 32-bit Vista, no Linux support (hacks available but still not supported)

Boot Camp partition in Fusion cons:

1. Disk IO significantly slower than virtual HD file-based Fusion VM

2. No suspend/resume or snapshots of this kind of VM

3. Virtual drive maps to one host "Boot Camp" partition, other drives/partitions must be shared from OS X or accessed by creating manual raw disks

4. Requires additional one-time activation of Windows

5. Other product's activation schemes are not necessarily handled, e.g. Office, Diskeeper, Adobe CS (unless you have enterprise/volume versions)

6. Access to subset of devices listed in #4 above, notably VMware SVGA II with optional 3D (see list of supported apps), most USB devices work, subset of RAM

Boot Camp partition in Fusion pros:

1. No "additional" space beyond partition required, because the BC partition is a special pre-allocated case.

2. No additional Microsoft license required to have a dual use Windows environment. A BC partition and a Fusion VM, technically require two Windows licenses.

WoodyZ
Immortal
Immortal

Nice comparison, realy puts it in perspective!

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WoodyZ
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Immortal

It is working fine now but has previously crashed resulting in us having to revert to a previous snapshot and losing all our data created since the snapshot was taken.

Sorry to hear you're having problems with Fusion however I'd like to point out that regardless of where the problem lies, in almost all cases, there really is no good excuse for loosing Data because one reverts to a Snapshot if one is doing as one should and that is backing up Data off of the system on a daily basis (or what ever time segment is appropriate). When it comes to Data it should be backed up regularly and off system regardless of the environment (physical or virtual, home or office) it’s being used in.

This doesn't mean one will never loose any data however the amount of loss can be greatly minimized when one implements a good backup practice.

That said and before one reverts to a Snapshot there are steps to take to attempt to recover Data off of the Virtual Disk Drive. As an example if the VM, for whatever reason, cannot boot normally/properly to the installed OS the first thing one could do it boot the VM with a Live OS type CD/DVD-ROM or ISO Image of a Live OS. This would give one the opportunity to see if one can access the File System to effect recovery of Data. If the File System is accessible then Data can be transferred using many different methods.

In any case reverting to a Snapshot should be one of the last steps in the process of trying to fix a problematic VM. First attempt to recover any Data not already in one's daily backups then attempt to fix the problematic VM.

I know this is of no consolation at this particular time however if it helps you, or anyone, in the future to minimize the loss of Data it's worth hearing this said.

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sleves
Contributor
Contributor

Thanks for the responses. Backup is not really an issue at the moment because we are just testing the viability of the solution which is why we had no scheduled backups.

Having said that, it was alarming that the only recourse seemed to be having to revert to a snapshot - in effect losing all the data and software installed since taking the snapshot (only two days old but enough to be a pain due to the number of installs performed). So it was a matter of wasted time rather than data.

So to summarise the responses in simple terms for newbies like us:

If we had split the 160GB disk into two boot camp partitions - one for the Mac and one for XP (we're not interested in Linux or any others) - and then used Fusion to create a VM to point to the XP partition, the pros and cons would be:

  • + The Windows data physically exists in it's usual form on the XP partition rather than 'virtually'.

  • + Providing we can get into Windows when booting we can always access the XP apps and data.

  • + When we need to share between the two OSs we can use the VM to be able to copy/paste 'live' data, i.e. rather than save data and then reboot.

  • - Disk i/o is slow when using the VM.

So to us that would seem to be the best of both worlds - boot into the relevant camp if you just want to use one or the other; if you are going to share data (for example access emails in PC Outlook and use Photoshop on the Mac) boot into the Mac and use the VM.

Or are we oversimplifying things?

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sleves
Contributor
Contributor

Can anyone provide any comment on this?

cheers

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WoodyZ
Immortal
Immortal

Can anyone provide any comment on this?

The summary of pro's/con's made by rcardona2k is one of, if not, the best lists I've seen in one spot. Is there something on his list that you do not understand?

As to "So to summarise the responses in simple terms for newbies like us:" your summary is on target.

I would however give it serious thought to just how much space you give to the Boot Camp partition for the Windows install. A 50/50 split to me seams like Windows is getting to much space but it comes down to what your needs are.

Gangee
Contributor
Contributor

Maybe my situation will help.

I too am a recent Mac convert. I use a MBP, 2.4, 4 g of RAM. Leopard. I'm a developer. Basically, I use my MBP to run Windows. My Mac life is pretty much iMovie, so far. Sometimes I'll use Safari, but by and large, I bought a MBP to run Windows.

I started with Parallels, lotsa problems. I switched to Fusion. I used the importer, I was up and running in 15 minutes. We've used VMWare for a few years now on our Windows Servers. Anyway, I've found it to be...well, stable might be pushing it. Reliable for sure. It hasn't crashed on me for a few weeks now (knock on wood). It's got some quirks, but by and large, I'm happy.

So I haven't found a reason to run Bootcamp so far. Windows works fine, faster than it did on my Dell (which admittedly was older, not as much horsepower either). I'm using Vista.

I still don't know why I would use Bootcamp, and I'm not going to bother. At this point, I'm going to leave well enough alone.

As a side note, you gotta love what Apple is doing. I see them making nothing but good moves. They have 30 billion in the bank. That's Microsoft like money.

I would dump Outlook all together and use my Mac for email if there was tighter integration with Exchange. Mainly, so I could get Notes on my iPhone. But I'm not dumping my Exchange server. The Exchange integration is weak. There's no support for Tasks, the Address book is difficult to import. So as soon as there's tighter integration with Exchange, I'd take a hard look at using the Mac side for email. Although I should add that Outlook 2007 is much better than previous versions. I tried Entourage, it blows. So many people have beeched about not having Outlook Tasks on the iPhone that I'm sure they'll be a solution soon, most likely when it's opened up to 3rd party developers in February.

So my Mac life has been pretty good, I'm glad I made the switch.

I better do a Snapshot now....grins:

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rcardona2k
Immortal
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Thanks for sharing your switching experience and usage scenarios. Judging from the traffic here your setup is very similar to others. I actually went for months without Boot Camp, before Fusion could support it, computing perfectly fine. Until that rainy day that Murphy's Law reserves for you and you need a native machine resource for a "one-time" thing like activating non-OS X supported WWLAN card (my case) and testing some data plans on USB mobile phones. WIthout a physical PC, I was forced to use Boot Camp Assistant to carve out a basic 5 GB boot camp partition, then my disk was too fragmented. All calling signs of Murphy, I had to defrag the host, then finally I could install Boot Camp for like, seemingly a couple of hours of use. That was then.

The situation is much better for me now, my activated WWLAN card works in OS X and its connection works in Fusion and my USB enabled mobile phone works directly in Fusion. If you don't need a BC partition, a Fusion VM running Windows works very well! Good luck on your Outlook quest. I use Outlook 2007 for corporate mail like the rest of the world, but I'm happy NOT to have my meetings on my iPhone, For this the iMAP support in Apple Mail syncs all my server folders to my satisfaction. I also keep an VPN+RDP session to my work desktop the occasional odd documents i receive that i don't have the apps for in Fusion.

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sleves
Contributor
Contributor

thanks everyone

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