Booting Externally Saving Internally?

Discussion in 'iMac' started by HarryWorksInc, Jul 2, 2011.

  1. HarryWorksInc macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Feb 21, 2010
    #1
    I would like to purchase an external SSD and boot my iMac from that because of faster read times for startup, and launching applications but save files on the internal HDD that is I'm my iMac. Is this possible?
     
  2. simsaladimbamba

    Joined:
    Nov 28, 2010
    Location:
    located
    #2
    Yes, you just need a FW800 enclosure for 2.5" HDDs or a ThunderBolt enclosure for 2.5" HDD/SSDs once they are available.
     
  3. antman2x2 macrumors 6502a

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    Mar 1, 2011
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    #3
    Cannot wait for some TB enclosures. Hopefully they arent too costly!
     
  4. clyde2801 macrumors 601

    clyde2801

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    Location:
    In the land of no hills and red dirt.
    #4
    They will be at first, until the pacific rim countries get a chance to acquire them, reverse engineer and copy them. If the demand is there, we'll be flooded with them in a few months if the demand is there.

    And considering how many new Macbook Pros and iMacs Apple is selling, the demand is there.

    I'm just waiting to see if Apple is going to try some BS mojo to keep '11 iMac/MBP owners from externally booting off of TB.
     
  5. rnb2 macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Jan 23, 2006
    Location:
    West Haven, CT, USA
    #5
    Yes, as others have said, you just need a FW800 enclosure for the SSD - I have used the Mercury Elite AL Pro mini from http://macsales.com for this for well over a year on my 2009 i7 with very good results.
     
  6. HarryWorksInc thread starter macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Feb 21, 2010
    #6
    Awesome, I don't have thunderbolt so I'll stick to FireWire 800. But how would this be done? Also how big would an SSD need to be to hold the OS data?
     
  7. blueroom macrumors 603

    blueroom

    Joined:
    Feb 15, 2009
    Location:
    Toronto, Canada
    #7
    Putting an SSD in a FW800 enclosure would bottleneck the SSD. Better to install a reasonably sized SSD internally. OSX will fit fine on 16GB with a little room to spare.
    A half a solution would be an internal Seagate Momentus XT.
     
  8. boodyup macrumors member

    Joined:
    Dec 3, 2009
    #8
    a ?

    hi,

    just to tack on another ?, is it possible to have an internal ssd and an external setup (thunderbolt linked ssds like promise pegasus) and have the drives "blended" so that it looks like one drive? I don't want to go hunting around for documents outside of my documents folder, same with downloads, sites, etc.

    I also don't want to have a noisy and slow standard hard drive as a second internal drive but I don't like the fact that the ssd offered is only 256 GB and I don't want to install a 3rd party drive internally.

    TIA
     
  9. Stan Mikulenka macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Nov 20, 2009
    Location:
    Calgary, Canada
    #9
    Hi boody,
    here are two 1TB SSDs for you (from newegg):
     

    Attached Files:

  10. boodyup macrumors member

    Joined:
    Dec 3, 2009
    #10
    thanks but installing those drives will void the warranty, correct? not to mention I don't want to go through the hassle of installimg one of those.
     
  11. clyde2801 macrumors 601

    clyde2801

    Joined:
    Mar 6, 2008
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    In the land of no hills and red dirt.
    #11
    It should be possible to install the os and apps on the ssd and the user folder and everything else on the hdd. Look up lifehacker optibay and they give some pretty good instructions on how to do this.
     
  12. shady28 macrumors member

    Joined:
    Mar 27, 2005
    #12
    I actually just did this yesterday. I'm not real keen on pulling my brand new iMac apart, and the main advantage of SSDs is the super low access times for small to medium size files, like when launching apps or boot up. Big sequential files are usually media, and those I have on my internal hdd or NAS.

    FW 800 is the way to go though. You can get around 70 MBytes/sec, and on random 4k reads an SSD is 20x faster, or more, than an hdd. The change was noticeable even without direct SATA, and I have 4 other computers with internal SSDs so I do have a basis of comparison.

    I just used the disk utility and restore function built into OS X. Restore from the OS drive to the external FW drive.
     
  13. boodyup macrumors member

    Joined:
    Dec 3, 2009
    #13
    Thanks for the great advice! I'm definitely going to check out the clone software.


    are there any advantages of getting the optional hdd? One of my biggest complaints with my current mini (besides its slow 5400 drive) is I keep hearing the spindle or whatever it is on the drive make that annoying high pitch click (or is that the fan?). I usually have to run music so I don't have to hear it.

    Do you get that with the imac 7200 hdds loud enough that you hear it? I'm sure you do but it's worth asking.
     
  14. admanimal macrumors 68040

    Joined:
    Apr 22, 2005
    #14
    Technically FW800 will bottleneck the SSD, but in practice it will still make the computer feel a whole lot faster than using the internal mechanical HDD. I know this because I just did it and I am extremely happy with the results.
     
  15. HarryWorksInc thread starter macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Feb 21, 2010
    #15
    Ok, great I can't wait to do this but how would I transfer over just the system and not my files?
     
  16. HarryWorksInc, Jul 4, 2011
    Last edited: Jul 4, 2011

    HarryWorksInc thread starter macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Feb 21, 2010
    #16
    Also how fast do I want the drive to be? How fast are the read/write speeds in the internal hdd? I found a drive online with 3.0 Gbps read speeds but I don't know if thats very fast in terms of hard drives. But a firewire is 800 Mb/s right? so that would theoretically bottleneck it however you say this would still be much faster that my internal hdd?
     
  17. rnb2 macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Jan 23, 2006
    Location:
    West Haven, CT, USA
    #17
    Try this:

    1) Before cloning to the SSD, create a second admin user account, log out of your account and log into the new user. From this account, copy your user folder to the root of the internal hard drive (same level as /Applications, /System, /Library, etc.) You want to do this from another account so that all of the files are closed so that nothing is changed during the copy operation. Also, make sure you copy the folder rather than moving it, since you're going to need to log back into your account in the next step.

    2) Log back into your account, then go to System Preferences > Accounts, click the lock and enter your password to unlock it, then right/control-click on your account, and select "Advanced Options" (the only choice). From here, click the "Choose" button next to Home Directory, and select the copied user folder at the root of the internal drive. You'll probably have to log out/restart after this step.

    3) Use CarbonCopyCloner or SuperDuper! (registered version - only $28 and everyone should own it) to clone your internal drive to the external, but exclude both the new user folder at the root of the internal AND your original user folder inside /Users (but only your user folder - let it copy /Users and the other user accounts to the SSD) from the clone - read the instructions to find out how to exclude specific folders from clone operations.

    4) Go to System Preferences > Startup Disk, and select the SSD as your startup drive.

    5) Once you have successfully booted from the SSD, you can delete everything on the internal EXCEPT for the new user folder in the root of the drive.

    There may be other ways to do this, but I believe this is how I did it, and it's been working fine for over a year with my setup.

    The 3Gb/s speeds you saw referenced are theoretical - that's the spec for SATA2 connections. Platter-based hard drives will only hit a fraction of this transfer speed, and will slow down as they fill up. You'll need a pretty fast SSD to saturate a SATA2 connection (figure around 300-325MB/s), but for a system drive, that really doesn't matter - any decent SSD in a FW800 enclosure will do, since FW is going to severely limit peak transfer rates.

    All you're really interested in is the lack of latency, blindingly-fast seek time and the ability load multiple files concurrently on the SSD - this is what really speeds up a system drive, since it spends a lot of time loading multiple files at the same time from various areas of the drive. An SSD can do this without breaking a sweat, but a platter hard drive has to move the read heads all over to accomplish the same thing - this is what makes all the noise with a traditional hard drive.
     

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