I'm getting myself a laptop for pen-testing using VMware etc. Theoretically speaking, if I were to replace the disk drive with a secondary hard drive, could I successfully set up the laptop to run off of each hard drive as though they were separate computers.

Ideally, what I'm looking for is a way of keeping my security pen-testing lab separate from my iTunes/email etc. to minimize risk of any viruses or whatever getting onto my other hard drive.

Is this something that could work, and is there a way I could set up my new laptop to ask which drive i'd like to boot from at start up so that I can essentially have two separate machines in one?

Similarly, could this work if I only had one hard drive in the machine at a time (to keep all the personal stuff that may have details etc safe from any damage I may do by accident).

Ultimately, all the work I do will be done on virtual machines, I'm just worried that I may accidentally do something that then leads to any account information I hold on the laptop being compromised or something?


1 Answer 1


I've set up VMs quite happily to run on memory sticks - you'll need a fair amount of disk space but it will work.

That'll keep the VMs separate from everything else - and also makes them quite portable.

2 gotchas: keep the VM files in one place on the portable hard drive and make sure any machine you run them on has sufficient memory to run the VMs when you do run them - contention is something that literally killed my attempt at Server 2012 on my old laptop.

  • Ah fantastic, thank you! So, I should be able to just set up the VMs onto a USB or external Hard Drive and then keep them separate that way? I may still do this by adding a second hard drive for them, I'm not sure yet, but as long as I can still have say iTunes and firefox without worrying about it, that's good enough for me! Thank you for your help
    – Geelanco
    Commented Sep 22, 2015 at 11:44
  • Absolutely. Give yourself sufficient space, make sure you can access them from there when you've set them up and if you really want to make sure they're portable, plug and play into another machine. Commented Sep 22, 2015 at 12:55

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