Buying external SSD drive for '12 iMac

Discussion in 'Mac Basics and Help' started by Tulipone, Jun 10, 2014.

  1. Tulipone macrumors 6502

    Jan 30, 2009
    Huntingdon UK
    I have a couple of questions that I couldn't find answers for, hoping someone here can help out.

    Thinking of getting an external SSD. I'm thinking that I install a version of Mavericks and other well used applications there. Data I leave on the internal hard drive - right?

    Do I need to format the internal drive once the OS is booting from the external or does it/can it remain there for when/if the SSD gets a problem?

    Installation of an internal SSD appears to be both far more expensive than external and the idea of wielding a screwdriver does not fill me with good thoughts.

    Finally, how reliable are external SSD?

    Thanks for any guidance.
  2. Fishrrman macrumors P6


    Feb 20, 2009
    An externally-connected SSD will boot and run at speeds nearly indistinguishable from one that is internally mounted.

    Reliability should present no problems, I've been booting and running a Mac Mini this way for 17 months, runs great.

    Insofar as how you would set up the internal drive while using an external booter:
    I partitioned my internal drive.

    The "first" partition is a clone of the external boot partition of the SSD, created with CarbonCopyCloner.

    The other partition (actually, more than one) is used for data I want to keep "online and ready", but not on the SSD.

    With a backup clone of the SSD retained on your internal drive, you ALWAYS have a second bootable volume available. Incremental backups of the SSD are a snap. I suggest setting things up this way because SSD's (when they fail) tend to fail "catastrophically", that is to say one moment they're alive, and the next ... dead. With a cloned backup kept on your HDD, this will slow you down, but it won't stop you.

    On the SSD, I keep my OS, applications, accounts. I have a separate partition on the SSD for my important data files.

    I use the internal for storing things like music, movies, pictures, etc.

    I also keep another external drive as a backup for the internal HDD. This way, EVERYTHING is backed up to at least one other drive...
  3. satcomer macrumors 603


    Feb 19, 2008
    The Finger Lakes Region
    The speed all Depends of three factors.

    1. What kind of cable are you connecting to the computer?

    2. What internal chip did the manufacture use, you get what you pay for and do a little investigation.

    3. What drive is in the external? Does it spin faster compared to the transfer rate from computer to computer?

    A little investigation before buying an external can help in the long run. Cheap externals are cheap for a reason, always remember that.
  4. drsox macrumors 65816


    Apr 29, 2011
    You might consider getting a normal SSD and putting it in a SuperSpeed USB3 enclosure. With these new USB3 enclosures the data rates are very respectable. See :

    I have 2 of these that I use with Evo 256GB drives as temp storage.
  5. Tulipone thread starter macrumors 6502

    Jan 30, 2009
    Huntingdon UK
    Thanks all. Lots to mull over.

    What is the advantage of many partitions over a single fixed?

    I am a believer in you get what you pay for. That said there is always a possibility of overdoing things. In this instance I am strongly considering a 256gb LaCie rugged thunderbolt and, as seen elsewhere, either band it to the support of my iMac or buying a shelf. Without the requirement of a power supply that seems the best way for me.

    I have looked at USB3 external cases and shoving in an SSD - I had a bad experience of buying a case for a SATA drive where the fan and drive promptly burnout so not convinced.

    This seems to be a (relatively) cheap way of adding SSD. Usually that means a downside, but I cannot see it!

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