When you are using a Macintosh and need to run Windows programs, what is the best way to run Windows 7 on a Mac? What are the problems for which you need to prepare? How do you exchange files between Windows and Mac? How do you assign hard disk space? How do you change the allocation after installation if needed? Here are choices that work great.
Some of the Windows programs I needed would not run in virtualization mode. VirtualBox, a free emulator by Oracle, is quite good, but I needed the installation of Windows 7 on the hard drive of the Macintosh.
How To Run Windows 7 On A Mac
Bootcamp is included with the operating system in the utility folder, and the procedure for installing it is straightforward. You need a Windows DVD installation disk. A basic or manufacturer’s installation disk is fine. Next, print out the Bootcamp instructions and partition your hard drive to make space for Windows. Bootcamp will reformat the partitions on your existing hard drive with no data loss. To minimize the chance of irregularities during this procedure, it is good to run a couple of maintenance utilities. I used Cocktail to clear caches, run maintenance scripts, and repair permissions. Then I ran Disk Warrior to rebuild the existing directory on the hard drive to ensure it was in pristine, perfect condition with zero errors before proceeding. The directory file structure maps all the files on the hard drive. These are optional safeguards. At a minimum, restart the Mac with the shift key pressed to start up safely and check the system files. Then, continue and use Disk Utility to verify the disk structure for safety.
While slow, the installation proceeds smoothly. Remember to hold down the Option key on Mac and select the new Windows disk on each restart during the setup. After you start up in Windows, use the Macintosh Software Update control panel to update everything from the Windows side. I also installed MSSE – Microsoft Security Essentials, a free anti-virus program. A few weeks later, the problems began when I noticed my hard drive ran almost constantly when using Windows.
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I had allocated 27 GB, around 10 GB over the minimum. Still, with both Apple and Microsoft installing “important” and “recommended” updates, my free space was down to approximately 1.5 GB, less than ten percent of the overall drive capacity, leaving little working room for the files to be written.
How To Add Space to Bootcamp Without Losing Data
There are two ways to address this:
1) Reformat from the Mac side with Bootcamp by restoring the drive, losing all Windows data, partitioning, and starting over.
2) Use Paragon CampTune 9 to add space to Windows without losing data.
I chose the second method.
After purchasing and downloading CampTune, burning the program to a CD went smoothly. I could remove free space from the Mac side of the Partition, but when trying to add length to the Windows partition, the following message appeared: “Operation failed. The file system has allocation errors due to cross-linked files. Run OS built-in tools for checking and correcting this kind of error. Error Source: Hard Disk Manager Error Code: 0x10018.” The developers are native German speakers, so the English isn’t flawless.
I was left with lost disk space on my Mac and the same space shortage on Windows. I contemplated going back to step one, erasing and starting over. Fortunately, when filling out a service ticket online, the FAQ gave me the answer. The instructions showed three things:
1) How to use disk utility on the Mac to check the file structure for errors. I knew these files were fine for two reasons: Disk Warrior had rebuilt everything even though there were no errors, plus CampTune had successfully removed free space from the Mac partition, showing a file check as one of the steps.
2) How to reclaim the unallocated free space on the drive. This was very useful. You open Disk Utility on the Mac, click Partition, and drag the image to enlarge.
3) How to check for file errors on the Windows partition. This was what I needed, but it required command-line instructions: chkdsk c: /f. Command-line instructions are fine, but they make me nervous because sometimes you can do real damage if you’re off by one space or punctuation mark.
Chkdsk is a command to have Windows run the built-in check disk routine and repair any damaged files. Fortunately, this can also be run from the Windows Control Panel. Select Computer, then the Bootcamp disk, the Properties, and Tools, and select Disk Maintenance. You can choose repair files only or repair files and try to recover any damaged blocks. Since the command line was only for file repair, I picked that.
The Computer has to restart, so the drive is not in use, and then the program runs, displaying text on a black background. It was completed uneventfully, and the CampTune program successfully resized the Partition. Afterward, I had Windows defragment the disk and found the answer to my question: What is the best way to run Windows 7 on a Mac?
How To Transfer Files Between Windows and Mac
Windows asks you to back up your files, and I have an unused external hard drive, but it is formatted for the Macintosh using HFS+. Windows 7 must be formatted with Microsoft’s proprietary system called NTFS. Mac can read these files, and you can copy them from the Bootcamp partition to the Mac desktop just by dragging, but Windows cannot read the Mac HFS+. I had been emailing Mac text files and opening them online in Windows. Here’s how to make it work. Windows and Mac can read FAT(MS/DOS), as the Mac calls it. Open Disk Utility on the Mac and reformat the old Mac drive to FAT32. This takes about five seconds and effectively erases all your data on the drive because you can no longer access it, but you can then easily read and share files between Windows 7 and the Mac by simply dragging them across the Mac desktop from each hard drive.