Computer: MBP 15 Late 2013. I have a BIOS booting Windows 10 installed on an external SSD. Windows occupies two partition on this SSD. The first is the System partition and the second is a combined Windows and Recovery partition. Below is the output from the command diskutil list.

enter image description here

Since I updated to Big Sur, I can not boot Windows from the external SSD anymore. I get a message that there is no bootable device and the computer restarts booting into macOS on the internal drive. It looks like Apple updated the boot loader (I can not tell from the new graphics), which appears to be connected to the issue. I have tried pretty much everything at this point and the only thing that lets me boot from the SSD is if I completely wipe/format the internal drive.

Is there a way to disable the internal boot drive so the boot loader doesn't see it? (I know this is a work around, but I don't have the time right now to further investigate the issue with the external SSD and why it can't boot from it.)

  • This is the disk I try to disable: Disk: /dev/disk1s5 geometry: 3811/255/63 [61228134 sectors] Sector size: 4096 bytes Signature: 0x0 Starting Ending #: id cyl hd sec - cyl hd sec [ start - size] ------------------------------------------------------------------------ 1: 00 0 0 0 - 0 0 0 [ 0 - 0] unused 2: 00 0 0 0 - 0 0 0 [ 0 - 0] unused 3: 00 0 0 0 - 0 0 0 [ 0 - 0] unused 4: 00 0 0 0 - 0 0 0 [ 0 - 0] unused – Cordvision Apr 14 at 16:35
  • Yes, as mentioned in the original post, I'm focusing on disabling and not fixing the boot issue itself (I did some research and there are many other people with the same issue since the bootloader got updated). What I posted is the info on the partition that contains the OS (Big Sur). Not sure what the difference is between a volume and partition, but I do have a basic understanding of the other terms. I would like to hide the entire internal drive (disk0) or alternatively just the partition disk1s5 that contains the OS. Requested output --> paste.pics/C80XD – Cordvision Apr 16 at 21:40
  • Moving the system partition for Windows to the internal drive is unfortunately no option for me. I need to be able to move the SSD with the system from one MBP to another. I'm hoping Apple will fix the issue with the current bootloader at some point (It worked flawlessly since 2013, but the recent bootloader update messed things up). If they don't fix it, I will try to to convert to UEFI (already made an attempt earlier, but it failed). – Cordvision Apr 17 at 17:46
  • @David Anderson You are making multiple assumptions... Software licenses are different in the US vs for example the EU where when a license period is indefinite will be regarded as a simple sale and sales of personal property cannot be tagged with conditions on how the property can be used. Furthermore, there is only one instance running at the time anyways... – Cordvision Apr 17 at 23:23
  • I deleted my comments and added some of your comments to your question. I think my comments were not leading to a productive solution. – David Anderson Apr 21 at 9:33

The firmware, stored on the logic board of your Mac, contains both BIOS and UEFI boot loaders. Additionally, the firmware on the logic board contains the Mac Startup Manager, which allows you to choose available startup disks or volumes. You can access the Mac Startup Manager by holding down the Option (⌥) or Alt key immediately after starting or restarting your Mac.

IFAIK, the the Mac Startup Manager can not be configured to to ignore the internal drive.

However, there exists other startup (boot) managers which can be configured to ignore the internal drive. One such free product is the rEFInd Boot Manager. To configure rEFInd to only search for BIOS booting external drives, one only has to add the following line to the end of the refind.conf file.

scanfor biosexternal

Furthermore, the rEFInd Boot Manager can be configured during installation to be accessible from the Mac Startup Manager. The rEFInd Startup Manager can be installed in your existing EFI partition, so you will not have to make changes to your external drive. If desired, rEFInd can silently BIOS boot windows installed on an external drive.

I used a 2013 iMac to verify your problem with the Mac Startup Manager exists. Next, I installed rEFInd to verify rEFInd would solve the problem. A more detailed explanation is given as an answer to the question Two Bootcamp installations: first one on Internal HDD and second one on external Thunderbolt 2 SSD.

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