Dual-boot or Parallels?

Aug 4, 2022
Dell Optiplex 7060
  1. Mac mini
Hi all: I'm planning to build a machine that will be running 10.13 High Sierra. I do use a couple WinDOS programs, but not very often. So I ask: should I make my machine a dual-boot with two drives (one macOS and one WinDOS 7), or just one drive with macOS and use Parallels to run the stuff that I sometimes need?

I do have a couple of concerns: I've seen that Dell machines all have a blue SATA port ("SATA 0" on each and every one) and that's always where the boot drive gets plugged in. So I wonder if Dell machines have a weird sequence of searching drive slots for booting order, since Dell is weird about their hardware and firmware in general.

Another concern is that I'd have to get TWO drives; another drive to have to back-up on the schedule, and more hardware cost. I'm leaning toward using Parallels instead of having dual-boot, even though Parallels is a macOS app running a WinDOS environment (this time on a Dell), which seems to me like taking extra steps to do one thing half as fast, with twice the RAM dedicated to the 'virtual machine.' So dual-boot looks like an option if I really care about speed, responsiveness and how hot the inside of the box gets.

That said, I'd like to read YOUR opinions and advice.
I've set up my rig to do both. It's exactly as you describe - a separate SSD drive for booting into Windows, and I installed extra RAM for running Parallels.

I would think an i7-8700 should be pretty fast to run Parallels. To speed it up a bit, I put the virtual drive on the SSD. I just use some utilities and Quicken and they don't seem to be slow (but that's all relative I guess). The benefit of running Parallels is that you can access Mac files and copy/paste data between environments.

I boot into Windows predominantly for gaming, when I need full performance from the GPU.

I would start out with Parallels before setting up a dual boot. It does require a bit more work, and being mindful of not affecting your MacOS boot drive. In fact, when I installed Windows, I disconnected my MacOS boot drive. And that wasn't fun because the NVMe slot is only accessible by basically disassembling the CPU cooler, video card, etc.

If you want to see how fast your rig will be with Parallels, you can try out VirtualBox, which is free. It lacks the integration features that Parallels has, but it will give you a sense of how the virtual machine will impact speed.
the advantage of VM's is you keep one hard drive for another porpouses, and avoid ExFAT partitions to share data between Oses, that gaved problems to me. Yes you can give access to NFTS on macos and viceversa but I prefer to be totally separated.
I also have concerns about having two drives on my machine. I know that macOS can recognize and work with exFAT and NTFS, but I've always seen 'drive not recognized, want to format it?' when plugging an external HFS+ volume into a machine running Windows.

So I could (in theory) work with the Windows exFAT or NTFS drive when I'm booting macOS, but I wouldn't be able to see the macos HFS+ drive when booting into Windows. Am I right about that?
You are right, there are some apps for macos partition recognition in Windows, but I should avoid.

In macOS you can read NTFS, but not write. Except you use some tricky code, or use NTFS tuxera or another complement, that I should avoid too. And exFAT, of course. But I was having trouble sharing an exFAT drive bt/ windows and macOS, exFAT is good for external drives, but I don't recommend for sharing bt/ oses. (Lost data)

The code to activate NTFS on macOs:

Before we start. Make sure your external name label is ONE word. That means there is no space in between.

my disk = WRONG

my_disk or my-disk or mydisk = CORRECT

Open Terminal [Command+Space+"terminal"]
Type: sudo nano /etc/fstab
In nano, type: LABEL=my_disk none ntfs rw,auto,nobrowse Note: my_disk is your disk name
To save and exit Control+X and Enter and Enter
[optional] For ease of access, we create a sym-link to desktop: In terminal -> sudo ln -s /Volumes ~/Desktop/Volumes
When you don't need it anymore. It is as simple as:

In terminal sudo rm /etc/fstab
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You are right, there are some apps for macos partition recognition in Windows, but I should avoid.

In macOS you can read NTFS, but not write...

Aren't there some third-party plug-ins for NTFS? More to the point, can I install WinDOS 7 on an exFAT drive and have it stay exFAT?
I encounter the same dilemma a few years ago. So I decided to try both. I installed Windows on a separate hard drive. I can dual boot to either Mac or Windows. I also installed Vmware Fusion and cloned the Windows disk.

Most of the time I run Windows as a VM unless I am playing games.
Yes there are, tuxera... and others.

I don't think so, Windows needs NFTS. But like everything, there will be ways ;D

I lastly erased my windows partition, and only use VM's. And using that hard drive for another macOS system.
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I agree with everything written here. If you have a dual boot system, macOS can read but not write the Windows NTFS drives. They show up in my Finder window, but I don't really have need to access them. Individual files that I need to share are on my Dropbox or external drive (USB or exFAT HDD). But I rarely do work in on my Windows Boot.

With Parallels, it integrates really well with macOS. You can read/write macOS files on HFS+ partitions, ie., if you're working on a file over in the macOS, then need to do something in Windows, it is very seamless.

A good example for me are audio files. I do the majority of my mastering on Adobe Audition in the macOS. Once I have it sounding how I like, I have an old copy of WaveLab that has a normalization feature that I can't seem to replicate in Audition. So I will open up the .wav file on the Windows side, in WaveLab, then perform that normalization.

There is another application in Windows called Trader's Little Helper that can write checksum files that include the directory structure. The advantage of this is that you can drop a folder with nested folders and files, and TLH will generate checksum files for all the nested files, complete with location in the nested folders. This is something that I haven't found for the Mac either. Again, I can take a folder on a mac HFS+ drive, drop it into TLH, and have it generate a checksum file that can be written into the original directory on the HFS+ drive.

Parallels makes it all seamless, especially in their "Coherence mode." If it wasn't for the differences in the Mac and Windows fonts, I wouldn't be able to tell when I am in the Mac or when I am in Windows. In fact, I sometimes run Chrome in the Windows side and there have been times when I have forgotten that I am on the Windows side. Pretty cool.