Advise on how to organize files on new iMac + external drive

Discussion in 'iMac' started by MrBlablading, Aug 31, 2016.

  1. MrBlablading macrumors newbie


    Aug 31, 2016
    I got the new 27 inch iMac 5K Retina with a 256 Gb SSD + a 3Tb Thunderbolt 2 drive. I have not touched it yet - I am thinking I need a plan to start with =)

    I need advice on how to organize files on this setup - the aim is to not populate the internal drive with anything that does not have to be there. Everything that can will go on to the external T2 drive.
    For instance can I install MS Office and other programs on the external drive? Itunes archive will go on the external drive. So will all documents, the Final Cut Projects and events as well as Photos library. What else can I put there? Is it possible to install the Adobe suite on an external drive?
  2. AlexJoda macrumors 6502


    Apr 8, 2015
    I have a similar setup with a 5K iMac with internal 256Hb SSD and an external Thunderbold 1TB SSD. I put all big Folders from the Home directory (Documents, Downloads and on) to that external SSD and created symbolic links for these folders in the original location on the internal SSD. This is described here:

    You can also redirect the data path in many applications like iMovie, iPhoto and so on. But I would not recommend to install the applications and library folders itself on the external drive. Thats why you have the fast internal SSD and you can not use your Imac any more once you disconnect your external drive. I have a complete CS6 installation Office 365 and many more Apps on my internal SSD and still have more than 160GB left....
  3. Fishrrman macrumors G5


    Feb 20, 2009
    How to set up will depend on how often you USE files, libraries, etc.

    I would recommend that your internal SSD have:
    - The OS (of course)
    - ALL your apps (they will run fastest that way)
    - Your home folder (for large libraries, see below)
    But... don't "clog up" your SSD with large libraries.

    Your external drive could have (for example)
    - LARGE libraries (such as pics, movies, music, etc.)
    - SELDOM-ACCESSED items (again, movies come to mind, music, etc.)
    - Perhaps a bootable cloned copy of your internal drive (you ALWAYS want to have AT LEAST ONE FULLY BOOTABLE external copy of the OS somewhere, and your "regular" external drive is an excellent place to keep it).

    Here's an example of how I arrange things.
    Boot SSD:
    has the OS, apps, accounts (libraries limited in size). I do not store ANYTHING in my "documents" folder (read on).

    Primary HDD:
    Partitioned into several partitions (in order):
    a. Boot B/U - this is a "cloned copy" of my boot SSD. I ALWAYS have an immediately accessible second boot volume close-at-hand.
    b. Main - contains all my "important" files (financial, etc.)
    c. Music - contains music-related
    d. Media - contains photos, videos, etc.
    e. General - contains copies of apps, older versions of the OS, general stuff I don't access frequently.

    And of course, EVERYTHING is backed up to at least one other backup drive somewhere else.

    I realize that the overall storage scheme I've described above takes a little more thought than simply "throwing everything at one volume".

    But I have no trouble with it.
  4. MrBlablading thread starter macrumors newbie


    Aug 31, 2016
    Thank you!
    It took a while for me to get this right but I followed your advice and created symbolic links for Downloads, Documents, Pictures, Music and Movies. The SSD is kept slim with only the OS, Home folder, Library and Apps.

    To understand the Symbolic Links I followed this video:

    I also created a bootable backup stored on the External HDD.

    I have some 180 Gb left on my SSD and the whole system is really, really fast =)

    Skärmavbild 2016-09-27 kl. 14.54.18.png
    External HDD:
    Skärmavbild 2016-09-27 kl. 14.53.27.png
    Internal SSD:
    Skärmavbild 2016-09-27 kl. 14.53.13.png
  5. Fishrrman macrumors G5


    Feb 20, 2009

    Your setup looks good.

    Just remember to BACK IT ALL UP, as well.

    If you liked the suggestions I made above, I'll offer another:

    DON'T use Time Machine.
    Use either CarbonCopyCloner or SuperDuper instead -- either will create exact, bootable, cloned backups that are EXACT representations of the source volumes.

    Far more useful in "moments of need".

    For your setup, I'd get a large USB3 HDD.
    Then, I'd partition it:
    - first partition -- equal in size to internal SSD, used to create cloned backup of boot drive
    - second partition -- whatever space is left, used to create backup of "primary external" drive.
  6. hanser macrumors regular

    Aug 29, 2013
    Stupid question: Wouldnt the movement of data work also with Alias? E.G. make Alias for "Music" folder, then move folder to external? should work, I think, and would be easier.
  7. danielwsmithee macrumors 65816

    Mar 12, 2005
    I've used the symbolic links before and it worked pretty well. I found that actually moving the entire home directory was much easier to manage, it also makes updating the OS and backing up the user data very simple.

    Just following this guide.

    I have a completely empty administrator account on the main system drive and all the other accounts are on the second drive.

    That way the only thing on the main drive are the OS and Apps.
  8. MrBlablading thread starter macrumors newbie


    Aug 31, 2016

    Thank you again,
    Yes I do regular backups as well. I do use TimeMachine - never "used" it though. TM does backups to my NAS.
    I have used Deja Vu for several years that is easier than TM when I have wanted to restore something. Now I also use SuperDuper - mainly for its ability to create a bootable clone as you described.

    A question - I assume that symbolic links works with TimeMachine? That is, even if my Documents, Photos folder etc now physically resides on the external T2 HDD this gets TimeMachined as well? Or does TM skip the external drive?

    I will probably setup a second backup of my T2 HDD to my NAS for safety and convenience.
    --- Post Merged, Sep 28, 2016 ---
    Interesting! I'll save this idea for later. If the SSD ever gets cluttered this may be another way to go. Thanx!
  9. danielwsmithee macrumors 65816

    Mar 12, 2005
    My setup is with two SSDs one small 128GB and one large 960GB. They each have the about the same performance. If you are paring an SSD with a HD, keeping the ~/Library, ~/Documents, and ~/Desktop etc that don't take up a lot of space on the SSD makes a lot of sense if your SSD has the space.
  10. alksion macrumors 68000


    Sep 10, 2010
    Los Angeles County
    Internal PCIe 512GB holds my Windows and Mac operating systems.

    iTunes, iPhoto library, archived files and general files that I don't touch often live on my external HDD.

    Files that I'm working with often or crucial project lives on my SSD until I archive them to my external. Need to work on them again? I just move them back to my SSD.

    Honestly, try a couple configurations. Only option you'll be bound to is your OS and even that, with clones like others have mentioned, you could still move around.

    Hope this helps!

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