Connect Mac mini to Macbook Air with Thunderbolt cable?

Discussion in 'Mac mini' started by elliotn, Aug 31, 2012.

  1. elliotn macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Sep 5, 2011
    #1
    Hi

    What's the quickest/easiest way to transfer folders of images (approx 10Gb) from my Air to my mini?

    I've tried wifi - easy, but slow. And an extrernal drive - faster, but fiddly.

    I have a thunderbolt cable - could I just connect the two computers and transfer files that way?
     
  2. old-wiz macrumors G3

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    West Suburban Boston Ma
    #2
    I'm pretty sure the thunderbolt cable doesn't work to transfer files.

    I would go for the external drive route.
     
  3. elliotn thread starter macrumors regular

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    Sep 5, 2011
    #3
    Ok.

    Re. doing it over wifi. On my set up it takes about 10 minutes to transfer 1Gb. Is that normal? (I'm based in the UK, using the router supplied by BT for their BTInfinity service.)
     
  4. shortcut3d macrumors 65816

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    Aug 24, 2011
    #4
    Incorrect.

    You can use Firewire or Thunderbolt in target disk mode. This would be by far the fastest means to transfer data between two SSD equipped Macs.

    You can also used a CAT6 or CAT5e cable and direct connect using Ethernet at gigabit speed which is enough for a transfer involving a hard drive. Macs are Auto-MDX, so no cross-over cable required. In the OPs case, it would require purchasing an Ethernet adapter for the MBA.

    ----------

    I just transferred 47GB HDD to SSD in roughly the same time (11 minutes) using Thunderbolt.
     
  5. elliotn thread starter macrumors regular

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    Sep 5, 2011
    #5
    Thanks Shortcut3D. My Air is the 2011 model. My mini is current: 2.7 i7 7200 HD. To operate in target disk mode I think I need to restart one of the computers. Does it matter which one? And what key do I need to press when restarting?

    I'll also look into the ethernet solution. Shortly I'll be wanting to transfer files from the Air to a Promise Pegasus connected to the mini. Perhaps ethernet from Air to mini would be the simplest way to do this (?) - (The mini will be connected to an Eizo monitor, via the Promise Pegasus, and I think I want to keep this connection permanent.)
     
  6. shortcut3d macrumors 65816

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    Aug 24, 2011
    #6
    Restart either system holding 'T'. The screen will be grey with a Thunderbolt symbol.

    Can you drive the Eizo panel with HDMI? That would give you the ability to connect the MBA through the Pegasus when the mini is in Target Disk mode.
     
  7. elliotn, Sep 1, 2012
    Last edited: Sep 1, 2012

    elliotn thread starter macrumors regular

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    Sep 5, 2011
    #7
    Thanks Shortcut3d.

    I restarted the mini in Target Disk mode, unplugged the Eizo monitor from the mini once the Thuberbolt symbol appeared, and connected the Air to the mini with a Thundebolt cable.

    The mini appeared in the finder on the Air, and I could drag the folder of images to it. 7Gb took 1 min 15 sec to transfer - as opposed to 1 hour 45 mins over wifi!

    Only hitch was when I plugged the Eizo back into the mini's TB port, it didn't register (blank screen). I had to press and hold the mini's power switch to force it to restart.

    So very quick file transfer, but it does require 2 restarts and some cable juggling.

    Re. Eizo and the HDMI port - that won't work as the Eizo is a 2560x1440 display. Also, I'm considering using a second 24" display in the HDMI port.
     
  8. elliotn thread starter macrumors regular

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    #8
    Still trying to figure out the best solution for when I have the Promise Pegasus set up.

    The connection will be Mac mini > Promise Pegasus 12Tb > Eizo CG275W. All working files and archive will be on the Pegasus (this is an image editing workstation). I'll be downloading images on location to the Air, and when I get back to base I'll want to transfer folders of images from the Air to the Pegasus (so that I can Photoshop them with mini). I think there are 2 options:

    - Unmount the Pegasus from the mini. Pull the TB cable from the mini and plug into Air. Transfer files from Air to Pegasus. Unmount Pegasus. Plug TB cable back into mini. (Pegasus will automatically remount on mini?)

    - The ethernet port on my mini is not being used, so I could run an ethernet cable from the mini to the Air, using Apple's USB/Ethernet adapter. So then I would just have to plug in the Air and drag files over to the Pegasus (?) No need to mount and unmount volumes (?)

    Maybe the second option is simpler, though slower - USB2 speed?
     
  9. shortcut3d macrumors 65816

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    Aug 24, 2011
    #9
    The reason you had to restart is Target Disk mode requires a power cycle to get in and out. Nothing you did wrong. Your display will not be recognized when the Mini is in Target Display mode.

    Disconnecting the Pegasus from the mini and connecting to the MBA would be the easiest cable juggling.

    Alternatively you can look into gigabit wire ethernet as direct connect or with a switch. Gigabit has enough speed to max out a 2.5" HDD. Even the relatively slow MBA SSD will saturate gigabit. USB 3.0 is fast enough for MBA SSD, but you would need Thunderbolt to cover a SATA III SSD. Too bad there is not a Thunderbolt network protocol like OSX has for FireWire.
     
  10. elliotn thread starter macrumors regular

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    Sep 5, 2011
    #10
    Thanks for the advice - much appreciated.

    I've just realised that Apple sell a Thunderbolt/Ethernet adapter, as well as a USB/Ethernet adapter.

    My Air is the 2011 model (USB2), and I'm not using its Thunderbolt port, so I guess a Thunderbolt/Ethernet adapter makes most sense (faster?) Then I could connect to the mini either directly with an ethernet cable (?) or via my internet router (i.e. running ethernet cables from the air and from the mini into the router) (?).

    Sorry - these are very basic questions.
     
  11. shortcut3d macrumors 65816

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    Aug 24, 2011
    #11
    Yes, the Thunderbolt ethernet adapter will work. As with all adapters, your max speed is that of the slowest interface.
     
  12. elliotn thread starter macrumors regular

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    Sep 5, 2011
    #12
    I finally got hold of the Apple Thunderbolt Ethernet adapter. Does it matter what type of ethernet cable I get to connect my Air with my mini? Are some cables faster than others? (The shop (non-Apple) that sold me the Thunderbolt ethernet adapter, wanted to sell me an expensive Belkin ethernet cable.)
     
  13. mgartner0622 macrumors 65816

    mgartner0622

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    Colorado, USA
    #13
    Nope, the cable doesn't matter. As long as it's in working condition, it will support the slowest hardware you have (Meaning if you have 100MB/s ethernet on an older mac VS Gigabit on a newer one, both will run at 100MB/s). A $3 generic cable will work just as well as a $50 name brand one, the only time the brand name cables are better is when you're running a long distance, usually 50 feet or more.
     
  14. comatory macrumors 6502a

    comatory

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    #14
  15. philipma1957 macrumors 603

    philipma1957

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    Howell, New Jersey
    #15
    that article is about a year old there have been patches to the osx it is much faster now.
     
  16. comatory macrumors 6502a

    comatory

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    Apr 10, 2012
    #16
    thats good to hear. do you have a personal experience, regarding speeds? i was thinking of using TB to move large amounts of data between my TB-capable macs.

    I know that Firewire allowed to "network" computers, can this be done via Thunderbolt as well? I'd like to copy data between computers without using Target DIsk Mode.
     
  17. philipma1957 macrumors 603

    philipma1957

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    Howell, New Jersey
    #17
    I have done mini to mini only with t-bolt. I used target disk mode and I used migration assistant. In both case the transfers are faster then they used to be. You need to realize that the macbook air has a ssd of some type so it can transfer very fast but the mini you have will only go as fast as the drive inside of it.

    So if your mini has the stock 5400rpm the transfer will not exceed 60MB. Say 2 gigs a minute if they files are pretty big. But 2 gigs a minute means 20 gigs in 10 minutes and it does not really feel slow until you do 100 gigs or more. My numbers are rough estimates you may get 2.5 gigs a minute or 1 gig per minute depends on file size.

    This would be ssd to 5400rpm stock hdd estimates. Still faster then 1 gig in 7 minutes.

    If you have ssd to ssd you can get 10 gigs a minute.

    That was transfer of a 3 hour eyetv file 21 gig in about 2 minutes. it was 2 base 2011 mac minis. one mini had a 240gb ssd from mushkin the other mini has a samsung 128gb ssd. It was done in target mode and was from the samsung to the mushkin. Of course the file is big so max speed was reached.
     
  18. r0k macrumors 68040

    r0k

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    Location:
    Detroit
    #18
    I just copied my Macbook's "personality" over to my new MBP using a FW 400 to FW 800 cable, target disk mode on the Macbook and Migration Assistant on the MBP. It took several hours to move 200 GB with the firewire icon dancing around my Macbook's screen. I'm glad I came across this thread as it's good to know the same thing is possible with Thunderbolt.

    When I powered down my Macbook "for the last time" I just held the power button a few seconds to get it to shut down from Target Disk mode. I plan on taking out the HDD and storing it as a "recent backup" for a few weeks (months?) and I'll pop the original 160 GB disk back in my Macbook, format it and get it ready to sell with 10.7.5 installed. I still have the original box. Apple offered me $142 for it but I think I can get a bit more on the open market since Microcenter is still selling these at prices ranging from $400 to $600. In fact, I should get more because mine has 6GB of RAM.
     
  19. elliotn thread starter macrumors regular

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    Sep 5, 2011
    #19
    Hi Philip.

    I'm the original poster, attempting to transfer files from Air to Mini.

    I just dug out some old ethernet cables (cat5e), and connected my 2011 Air (via the Thunderbolt/Ethernet adapter) directly to the Mini's ethernet port.

    I'm testing transfer speeds by dragging/dropping a 5Gb folder of image files (nefs and jpegs).

    It seems fast - 50 seconds to transfer 5Gb.

    The speed is the same if I drag the folder to the Mini's HD (7200rpm) or to the Promise Pegasus (12Tb Raid5) connected to the Mini.

    This is great! - I've gone from 1Gb in 10 minutes over wifi, to 1Gb in 10 seconds over ethernet.

    Now the final hurdle. Instead of having the 2 computers linked directly with an ethernet cable, I'd like to plug both of them into my router, and get similar fast transfer speeds. I haven't quite figured this out, but I'll keep on fiddling.
     
  20. philipma1957 macrumors 603

    philipma1957

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    Howell, New Jersey
    #20
    yeah the 5gb a min with a 7200rpm hdd is a good speed.

    100 minutes would be enough for a full clone in most cases. 500gb out of 750gb would take around 100 minutes. 400gb out of 500gb would be around 85 minutes. Most of us dont pack the drive that much.
     
  21. elliotn thread starter macrumors regular

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    Sep 5, 2011
    #21
    Hmm. When I plug the Air and Mini into my router (instead of connecting them directly with an ethernet cable), the file transfer is about 10 times slower (7 minutes for my 5Gb folder, instead of 50 seconds).

    (I'm based in the UK, and using BT Infinity broadband with their supplied HomeHub router).

    So I think I'll stick with the ethernet cable connected directly for file transfers, and for internet I'll use both the Mini and the Air with wifi (I consistently get 36 mbps down, 8 mbps up with wifi - same as with wired).
     
  22. elliotn thread starter macrumors regular

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    Sep 5, 2011
    #22
    Ok, I've looked up some info on my BT Home Hub 3 router, and it appears that just one of the four ethernet ports is a gigabit ethernet port:

    'If the Hub's four Ethernet ports aren't enough, you can add more ports by plugging a Gigabit Ethernet network switch into the Hub's Gig-E port. This is the yellow socket on the far right hand side (as you look at the back of the Hub), labelled "Gig-E".

    The Gig-E port works at faster speeds than the others, transmitting data at one gigabit per second (or 1,000 megabits per second). That's ten times faster than the other three ports, which transmit data at 100 megabits per second. In any case, it's a good idea to always use the GigE port for the device that needs most speed.'


    So it looks like I need a Gigabit Ethernet network switch (if I want fast computer-to-computer file transfers, via the router).
     
  23. philipma1957, Sep 26, 2012
    Last edited: Sep 26, 2012

    philipma1957 macrumors 603

    philipma1957

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    Location:
    Howell, New Jersey
    #23



    ahhh the joys of wireless.

    I live in Howell , New Jersey, USA .

    There are 4 military bases within 35 miles of my home.

    When they test out their toys "wireless is dropout"


    The worst toy they have is this


    http://www.defenseindustrydaily.com/return-of-the-navy-blimps-03093/


    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/JB_MDL_Lakehurst


    http://www.navytimes.com/news/2011/10/gannett-navy-after-50-years-airship-program-resumes-102711/



    The lakehurst , NJ , USA base is the site of the Hindenburg disaster it is about 15 miles from my house.

    They new helium blimps can stay up in the air for weeks on end. They are low cost , due to low fuel use , flying radar/jamming ships


    When they are overhead in my area and sometimes it is overhead for hours it is pure death to wireless.

    Therefore my house is all ethernet. My area must be one of the worst places in the USA for wireless due to these blimps being so nearby.

    Point is I am not surprised that your wireless can be 7x slower then hard wired.


    BTW I have 2x 8 port switches.

    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16833127325

    and I have this router

    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16833127215 and I only use the wired part of the router.


    cable modem (To) d-link router (To);



    [1] synology nas


    [2] 8 port switch=== pcs and macs I use 5 of the 7. only 7 since one of the 8 is the input



    [3] 8 port switch === pcs and macs I use 5 of the 7 . ^^^^^ see above^^^^^^



    [4] empty i could add a nas or a switch


    I have more then enough this way.
     
  24. comatory macrumors 6502a

    comatory

    Joined:
    Apr 10, 2012
    #24
    yes cheaper routers usually utilize only one gigabit slot :( if I were you I'd look for the gigabit network switch in a used PC store, I just went to one today and they were selling gigabit switches for $10 or so (the enterprise ones)
     
  25. elliotn thread starter macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Sep 5, 2011
    #25
    I'll probably get a new one - they're not so expensive. Here's one for £15 on Amazon UK:

    http://www.amazon.co.uk/TP-Link-Gig...9BBC/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1348680581&sr=8-2
     

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