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May 2, 2009

Boot Camp and Snow Leopard at the Same Time

by Dan

I use Boot Camp to play computer games for Windows on my Mac. Recently, I decided to try out the new version of OS X, called Snow Leopard. It hasn’t been released yet, as it’s still under development, so I wanted to keep my existing installation. I had hoped to find a way to get all three systems (OS X 10.5, OS X 10.6, and Windows) installed at the same time. However, Boot Camp requires there be two and only two partitions on the disk. Initially, it looked like I had to choose between Boot Camp and Snow Leopard.

Then I ran across an application called Winclone that will backup and restore Boot Camp partitions. Since OS X supports resizing disk partitions without losing data (non-destructive partitioning), I came up with a solution that allows me to switch between Boot Camp and Snow Leopard fairly easily.

I use the following procedures to switch from Boot Camp to Snow Leopard and back again without losing data on my Boot Camp partition or my normal installation. If needed, I suspect Disk Utility could be used to backup and restore a Snow Leopard partition. For now, I’ll leave that as a homework assignment. I don’t mind a fresh install of Snow Leopard each time.

To Switch from Boot Camp to Snow Leopard

  1. Open Winclone
  2. Choose the Boot Camp partition as source
  3. Click the Image button
  4. Close Winclone
  5. Open Disk Utility
  6. Delete the existing Boot Camp partition
  7. Add an 8GB partition for the Snow Leopard installer (skip this step if you burn a DVD instead)
  8. Add a partition for Snow Leopard and name it something you’ll remember
  9. Use Disk Utility to restore the Snow Leopard installer disk image to the 8GB partition
  10. Reboot and hold down the Option key during the boot process
  11. Select the “Mac OS X Install DVD” partition
  12. Go through the Snow Leopard install process
  13. Install on the larger partition created earlier (be careful NOT to erase your current installation)
  14. Rebooting at the end of the installation will take you into Snow Leopard
  15. If desired, change your default partition in System Preferences under Startup Disk

To Switch from Snow Leopard to Boot Camp

  1. Open Disk Utility
  2. Delete the Snow Leopard partitions
  3. Change the remaining partition (your normal system) so that it fills the whole disk
  4. Close Disk Utility
  5. Open the Boot Camp Assistant
  6. Choose how big you want to make your Boot Camp partition (pick the same size each time)
  7. Click the Partition button
  8. Choose the option to Quit and Install Later
  9. Open Winclone
  10. Select the Restore tab
  11. Drag or select your Boot Camp backup
  12. The destination partition should be called BOOTCAMP (be careful NOT to erase your current installation)
  13. Click the Calculate button to verify that your backup size matches your partition size
  14. Click the Restore button
  15. Close Winclone
  16. If desired, reboot into Windows normally

I’ve gone back and forth now several times without any problems. It takes about 10 minutes to backup or restore a Boot Camp partition, but I don’t mind as I only switch a few times each month.

I do, however, highly recommend backing up your computer before trying this as it is easy to erase the wrong partition. Mozy (use code DANCHERYL for 15% off), Time Machine or SuperDuper! will all work. Because I’m paranoid, I use all three. :)

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