Is Home of a Specific User on External Disk Possible?

I am using a laptop for personal and professional use.
Since I travel a lot, there is a chance that the laptop could be lost or stolen.

Thus, I would like to keep the user profile that I use for sentitive stuff like banking etc phisically separate and on an external disk that I would plug when suitable.

Is it possible to do something like that?
That is, having the directory of a specific user on a drive that is different from where the /home directory is located?

Would linking suffice the purpose?

If not, is there a guide for a setup like that?

Thanks for any help

Moving /home to another drive it’s not difficult. Executing this command changes home for ‘username’ and move home files to the new location (/newhome/username):

sudo usermod -m -d /newhome/username username

The main problem I see is that the external drive should be mounted before login. If it’s not mounted I don’t know what will happen because there’s no user home folder.


Not sure you’re on the right track, I think encryption would be required to protect both. At which point I’m not sure if there’s much point keeping the personal separate. Unless that’s a requirement in itself.

I’d say the better option is to have another install on the external drive. Then if your laptop is lost or stolen, hopefully you can still use the drive on another computer without relying on someone else’s operating system.

Either way, the external drive could also get lost or stolen. So encryption is required, but be careful not to lock yourself out.


I bet you carry your external HDD in the same bag with the laptop, so in case of losing it it does not make much sense. I would go with encryption.


Another possibility is to keep a separate OS that boots from a USB drive; for example NomadBSD – this OS is based on FreeBSD, and is specifically designed to run from a USB; very lightweight. The convenience for your purposes goes without saying; plus, it could potentially double as a portable repair kit of sorts.

I hope this helps. Cheers.


yes - you can use systemd-homed


See also systemd-homed - ArchWiki


Thank you

I guess instead the all idea is that the separate drive will not be travelling with me?

Thanks to everyone.

I will look into the proposed solutions in the next few days

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