Benefits... or not to relocate the Users folder to External Hard Drive

Discussion in 'Mac Basics and Help' started by kennychua, Apr 8, 2009.

  1. kennychua macrumors newbie

    Apr 8, 2009
    Hello All,

    I just got myself a Mac Mini and a 2 TB Western Digital My Book Studio II External Hard Drive.

    I just wanted to run this idea by you guys to give me some expert advice. What I did was I made the 2 TB Western Digital into a 1 TB External Hard Drive with RAID 1.

    Then I went to System Preferences/Accounts and changed the location of the Users folder to the External Hard Drive.

    So, essentially, (I think....) the entire OS is running on the Mac Mini, and then whatever data, Movies, Music, Preferences, additional Accounts etc..... I run from my External via Firewire 800.

    What do you all think about this set up? I have no idea why and how I came up with that, but that was how my Windows computer was set up (Recent Mac convert!)

    Let me know what yall think!

    Greatly appreciated

  2. wrldwzrd89 macrumors G5


    Jun 6, 2003
    Solon, OH
    I see no such option to change the location of the /Users folder. I'm utterly baffled. That said, though your setup is certainly unconventional, I don't recommend moving the ENTIRE Users folder over to the external. The reason: Say the external drive becomes unavailable for some reason (you disconnected it while the computer is shut off and forgot to reconnect it is one possibility). If this happens, you'll now be unable to log in. I see no problem with redirecting certain folders to the external drive, though. Music and Movies are ideal candidates for this, as they're not essential to logging in successfully but tend to get rather large.
  3. spinnerlys Guest


    Sep 7, 2008
    forlod bygningen
    Also FW 800 doesn't give you the speed of your internal drive, if that's what you also want to accomplish.

    But you could install Mac OS X on your external drive, and see how that works.
  4. kennychua thread starter macrumors newbie

    Apr 8, 2009
    Thank you

    Thanks guys, I think I see the glaring warning signs.

    Thanks again for your time.

  5. nadyne macrumors 6502a

    Jan 25, 2004
    Mountain View, CA USA
    It is possible to relocate your user folder to another drive. Personally, I do this on my laptops by partitioning my hard drive: one called "system", the other called "data". I store my user folder and the majority of my applications on the data partition. This way, if my system partition is ever damaged in some way, most of my stuff is fine, and my recovery time is limited.

    I don't know that I'd do the same thing on an external hard drive, though. If that external HD is somehow unavailable, I'm not sure what the OS will do when it tries to boot up and there's no user folder.

    Moving your user folder from the default location is not just as simple as doing something in the System Preferences, though. There's actually a fair amount of work to it. I've got the instructions for it documented around here somewhere, and I can dig up a link if there's interest.

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