Boot Mac OS From External SSD HD Enclosure on Older iMac


This video shows you how to upgrade a 2011 iMac to run on an external ssd hard drive using a Lacie Thunderbolt 1 external enclosure. This is 2018 but you can purchase a 2011 iMac and upgrade to run like a new iMac. This process can increase your hard disk speed from 70 MB/s to over 380 MB/s making your entire Operating System and iMac computer seem like brand new.

Buy Thunderbolt 1 Drive –

Watch this video with step by step instructions. In this video we purchased a 2011 iMac for $280 and are using a Lacie Thunderbolt 1 external hard drive enclosure with a Samsung Evo 860 EVO SSD hard drive to boot the OS. The entire process takes about 30 minutes and we will take you though the entire process of replacing the HD in the Lacie enclosure all the way to installing the new Operating System (Mac High Sierra) on the External SSD. You don’t need to be technical and in about 30 minutes you will have an iMac that seems to run up to 500% faster than the stock hard drive. If you want to make a bootable mac external hard drive watch this video. Watch the video to find out the entire process step by step. Backup your system before starting. Thank you.

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45 comments

  1. Works with imac mid 2007? This methode?

  2. Can I use Lacie with usb C for Imac 2012 ?

  3. I tried to do the same thing with my 2008 iMac, patched to run Mac OS 10.14. Booting from an external SSD was slow and disappointing. The USB 2 ports are just too slow. I opened the iMac and installed the SSD and the difference was very satisfying. I do boot my late 2015 iMac (with USB 3.0 ports) from an external USB drive and it works well, very usable.

  4. Thanks, this is a great tutorial. I have a late 2013 iMac 21.5 with thunderbolt 1 and usb3, I’m wondering with you would recommend using for boot up

  5. Once you since to the ssd can you use format the older drive in the computer to use it as backup drive just curious

  6. Why is the speed so low? I think people are getting up to 750MB/s with TB Cord -> TB2 to TB3 adapter -> TB3 NVME Enclosure, so I’d expect around spec (500MB/s) speed on 10Gbps TB port with SATA SSD minus some I/o overwatch.

    With that speed better just put the SSD inside and save on enclosure. Or try some other enclosure, their chips are not always well compatible with Apple

    I in fact had 2x internal SSDs in RAID, with 900—980MB/s + 2TB HDD for archive on 2011 iMac 27. Although compromised stability: had occasional weekly crashes.

    Unfortunately Catalina or anything with AFS would not install on RAID (after GPU upgrade), so I had to give it up in favour of SSD + Fusion with the other SSD and HDD. Works Ok, but exploring NVME option over TB.

  7. Too bad these things are rare to find after a few years. This TB1 connection is in 2021 just impossible to find. Even second hand in The Netherlands, and if they do, they ask the most rediculous prices for them. So these ports on iMacs and Macbooks from those era, remain unused till they get chucked away. All to the very fault of Apple (and little bit Intel) of making the licensing too pricy to make TB equipment, USB3 was quickly a good competitor for price. Too bad, they sat too long on their throne thinking everybody would jump the gun on this.

  8. I can’t find a Lacey unit to thunderbolt 1 so I wonder 💭 if is possible use a Lacey unit usb -c using a adapter to thunderbolt 2 on my iMac 2011 mid

  9. Save your time, money and energy. Just buy a 2012 iMac which has USB 3.0 ports.

  10. Hi Craig I've been looking on ebay and Amazon and this enclosure is just not available anymore with thunderbolt 1 connection. Are there any alternatives that would do the job? Thank you very much. Love your videos so good.

  11. My iMac was hacked and they put a passcode or padlock …it is my iMac and I do have receipt so I guess I will take it to apple because I gave the Mac to my grandson and it’s no good to him like that but thankyou for replying .

  12. I Have a EIF pad lock on my 2011 iMac can you help me ?

  13. For the ssd would that be considered how much storage you have on the iMac

  14. Hi this is great info !
    Can this be done on mid 2010 imac ?
    With lion osx on the external drive ?

  15. Great work! With your information, I also swapped a SAMSUNG EVO 870 500GB into the same LaCie Rugged case recently. I tested on my 21.5-inch iMac Mid 2011. The sequential reading speed is about 411MB/s and the sequential writing speed is about 380MB/s or so. But when I replaced the internal HD with the same EVO 870 500GB, both writing and reading speed can reach above 500MB/s (almost to the spec as SAMSUNG "said").
    So here comes my question, why the thunderbolt connection cannot reach the same speed as the internal SATA connection? Theoretically, thunderbolt speed should be 10Gb at maximum. So, there is no reason for a thunderbolt-connected external SSD of having a lower speed. Can you give me some explanation for it or is there a way to improve the situation?
    Thanks a lot! I have watched some of your videos and they are very informative and helpful.

  16. Thank you for the fey detailed systematic explanation. My current old iMac 2010 fans make a lot of noise. They are on always. If I boot from n external SSD, will that stop the fans spinning? I have tried the usual software hacks to control the fan speed with no success.

  17. I have a 2011 Imac too. Can i just use the USB to connect the drive – how much of a drop in performance should i expect? I am trying to install ubuntu on external drive.

  18. Old iMac = My PC
    Now to figure out how to boot OS X on a Core 2 Duo.

  19. I want to do this to my iMac. would a Samsung T5 drive work just as well?

  20. Please help! I’ve been at this for hours. I’ve followed all of the steps but when I go to start-up disc to switch my boot drive, the SSD drive doesn’t even show up. What am I doing wrong?

  21. Same boot as a lot of people, my iMac is bullet proof but showing it’s age. This is perfect for me. Is there a way to choose the start up drive at boot, ie I’ll keep the internal hard for the family and use the external hard drive me me. Be good if we choose at boot up.

  22. Life saving video! I have a 2015 IMac with a badly damaged fusion drive. I’m in the process of rebooting it with the external SSD drive, so hopefully it’ll run like new again.

  23. Awesome! Does the SSD need to go in the LaCie? What if I just use an ssd case with a USB 2 plug in?

  24. Hi Craig. Thanks for your very informative video. I was contemplating installing a new SSD internally but this seems a whole lot easier. 2 questions please? Is Thunderbolt 2 or 3 enclosure ok with a 2010 iMac ie backwards compatible and if I use a larger SSD and clone the whole drive then all my apps/programs will all be on the SSD and will save having to re-install everything and can use as before but a whole lot faster?

  25. I followed the steps and I'm running Catalina successfully on my Samsung external SSD, but it will not recognise the Big Sur update in Sys Prefs or App Store. Will I need to find a DMG version of Big Sur and do the installation process all over again?
    BTW, I copied everything over, was that a mistake?

  26. Excuseme I have a question about the live of your Ssd. In this 2021 how is the live of your Ssd, still have the same speed, have you ever changed for another Ssd?. It's because I want do put an external Ssd in my iMac 2013 late and I want to have a longer live with my Ssd.

  27. Thanks for the video it helped me speed up my Mac big time !!

  28. Great video thanks!!!! Just one question , would it work putting in a samsung 500 gb instead of a 250 gb?

  29. followed everything but when it restarts after installing on ssd it doesn't come up with asking which country it just starts as normal?

  30. Thanks for making this easy!!

  31. Thanks for the great video Craig! Would love to know if you think an NVME drive with case will even be faster on a late 2012 Imac. Thanks so much!

  32. I have a late-2015 iMac 27” 5K model with a 2TB Fusion Drive. The SSD Part of the Fusion drive has failed, so I separated it (using terminal commands) from the HDD drive, and now I have an Internal 7200 RPM 2TB drive. How important is it for speed to have the user account on the SSD as well (which is the way you tested the speed after the upgrade). I have a very large User Account (>1.2TB) and so want to install the OS (Mojave) on an external SSD with just a single, minimal ‘admin’ account for occasional maintenance & troubleshooting purposes, but have my larger Main User account and User Library folder as well as with all my docs, pictures, videos, etc on the internal HDD 2TB drive. Would I see a significant speed boost as well, or will having the user account located on the HDD slow it all down. Perhaps an alternative would be to have the Main User Account with its Library folder on the SSD, but have aliases to the Documents, Pictures, Video folders, etc in the main user account pointing to the folders on the HDD. Would that provide better performance as well, but avoid having to have a huge SSD drive?

    I realize that this is an old YouTube video, and I just subscribed to your channel, so hopefully you are still out there monitoring these comments!

  33. I"m puzzled by the mathematics: why do you refer to yourself in the singular in the video, but in the plural in the blurb?

  34. Thanks. Could you please post links to ebay or amazon wich lacie disk I should look fore. Have a ultimo imac 2013

  35. Thanks for the video! but unfortunately no luck finding a thunderbolt 1 HDD. Do you know of any alternatives? Will a thunderbolt 2 cable adapted to an enclosure with usb 3 work, since its backwards compatible?

  36. Hey I‘m planning to buy an imac 2011 but I can only find usb-c or usb3 connentions. I cannot find tunderbolt 1, only 3.. is that also working? Do you know where I can buy the right one?

  37. I have a 2017 with Mojave and just bought an SSD drive. I'm trying to decide whether to clean up the files on the old mac and transfer them to iCloud, then do a clean OS install or just do a clone of the old HDD drive. Any thoughts on how best to make this decision? I want to be able to access all my old files on the HDD drive, but speed up the mac in the best way.

  38. Hi Craig, Thanks for the video, you make it look easy, however, I've hunted high and low for an SSD drive that uses a thunderbolt 1 port with no luck. Can I use an SSD and just use USB to do the same thing? I have a mid 2011 27inch iMac that I would like to keep but make it less 'steam driven'.

  39. Hi Craig, great video. I’m looking to upgrade my Imac late 2012. Just wondered if you can confirm what model Lacie drive this is? I’ve been looking around, and keep seeing the “mini’ rugged drive. I am correct in thinking that’s a differrent drive to this one in your video?

  40. Are there External Hard Drive enclosures that have thunderbolt 1 or 2 connectors, empty ones without the spinning hard drive? These would be cheaper. I don't care if they are rugged like the Lacie.

  41. HOW on earth can someone eat and chew their fingernails down to the nubs like you have. WTF dude?

  42. This is remarkable! This opens many possibilities. I'm going to look at your other video(s) about doing this for a usb3 connection. This way I can have an external drive for my Mac mini 2012. I know you can stack 2 drives internally, but it looks like a tricky business. I can put a new ssd in place of the existing spinning drive and make an external ssd drive using a standard enclosure. Wonderful ideas on your channel, always useful. Thanks.

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