Convert from old hard drive to Fusion Drive

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by WorkerBee2015, Jan 23, 2015.

  1. WorkerBee2015 macrumors member

    Jan 23, 2015

    I have a MacBook Pro 13 inch early 2011 model. It has a 500G factory OEM hdd in it. Recently I started having some problems. Scannerz seems to be pretty highly recommended so I got a copy and I ran a test on it and the drive has about two large sections of bad data with each one being over 1G in length.

    I'm not interested in any repair attempts to the drive because drives are so cheap and now even smaller SSDs are cheap as well. This things been in continuous use for over 2 years, and as a field computer, it hasn't really been gently treated. My computer has a SuperDrive in it that's been getting continually worse.

    Im thinking about going the Fusion drive route. I can get a good fast 500G hard drive for just over 50 dollars and I can get a 128GB SanDisk SSD for about 65 dollars. This will give me tons of storage for just over 115 dollars.

    Another option would be to get an SSHD but it sounds like the flash memory in them is much smaller than it would be for what I listed above and my local shops don't seem to stock them.

    Here are my questions:

    1. I'll have 2 ports from the original hard disk and the original optical drive. Which port gets the SSD and which one gets the HD connection?

    2. Do I need some type of adapter to put the new hard drive of the SSD into the optical port. I think i read somewhere that someone was using some of that double sided foam tape to secure them, but it sounded sort of kludgy to me.

    3. How much of a speed increase can I expect. I'm using Mavericks.

    4. I know there was some type of problem with fans coming on with some iMacs when a new drive was installed because Apple did something proprietary to it. Will I run into the same problem here or is all the hardware standard?

    Any tips or opinions will be greatly appreciated.

  2. Command macrumors regular


    Jan 23, 2015
    My tip is don't bother trying to manually create a fusion drive. It might seemingly work but will always fail down the road - and you'll potentially lose data. However, putting OS X and applications on the SSD and using the HDD for storage will offer you just as well performance. You just make your alias to your HDD locations accordingly. Overall, you'll appreciate the performance boost.
  3. FrtzPeter macrumors member

    Aug 11, 2014
    Care to elaborate on why a Fusion drive would be any worse than the type of HD/SSD combination you're talking about? If you do backups, what difference would it make?
  4. ZVH macrumors 6502

    Apr 14, 2012
    1 and 2. Generally, you need to get an adapter to put a drive/SSD into the optical port. They're all over the place and vary radically in price. They look like an optical drive case but the drive slips into the adapter. You need to research this. Be aware that you may need to replace the cable to get optimal speeds. Beware of excessive power consumption by checking the power use by the optical drive and that of whatever you put in it's place. I've seen some people jury rig a drive/SSD into the optical drive's area using double sided foam tape, but in my opinion, that's a risky solution. Tape will eventually work it's way loose and you don't want a drive jumping around in your system.

    3. Expect boot speeds to be cut in half.

    4. That was a problem with iMac's several years ago. I know of no such problems with any of Apple's other systems.

    By the way, there's nothing wrong with the other guys solution. I'm not sure it would give you better performance, but there's nothing wrong with it. A Fusion drive is almost like a sliced RAID unit. The system is constantly moving data between the SSD and the HD and at a given instance, if one fails, it's not necessarily easy to determine what data is where, and if it's completely intact. With his model you would know what was stored where. Faster? I doubt it. Easier to handle problems? Definitely.
  5. BradHatter macrumors regular

    Oct 7, 2014
    If you want to see a discussion on various drives and their performance, check out this one:

    It's a little on the long side, it started off focusing on SSHDs but there's lots of other info in there as well.

    From my own experience with Fusions, the most noticeable change will be in boot speed. They boot almost as fast as a standalone SSD. Once you start using them though, I'm not sure the difference is that remarkable. Noticeable, use, remarkable, not sure.

    One issue with SSDs that a definite plus, particularly since you describe it as a "field" compute is that you really don't have to worry about the drive failing from shock.
  6. simonsi macrumors 601


    Jan 3, 2014
    Personally I wouldn't configure an SSD and HDD in a Fusion drive. It essentially changes the risk to RAID0, ie if either drive fails the whole volume is toast.

    I run a 120GB SSD with OSX, Apps and Dropbox docs (about 7GB). I also then have a 1TB HDD with a 900GB partition for media and a 100GB partition for a backup bootable OSX partition. CCC clones the SSD to the Backup partition weekly. TM backs up the whole thing daily.

    Now I have a 600GB photo library and I can't justify putting that data on SSD but the above gives me a great compromise of speed and cost of storage while enabling some redundancy in the event of either drive failing.

    A Fusion drive may simply come to the same conclusions in terms of what it puts where but I value the predictability and <easy> recovery of a seperate setup.

    My config is HDD in the regular drive bay and SSD in the optical, both run at SATA3 with no errors (and I have sudden motion sensor protection on the HDD still). You could always install like this, see if it works, if not (some optical bays only run at SATA2 so best for the HDD), swap the drives over.
  7. ZVH macrumors 6502

    Apr 14, 2012
    The biggest problems with Fusion Drives are as follows:

    1. It's an Apple proprietary technology and no one really knows how it works.
    2. To restore one, unless someone is some type of expert, it requires a complete restore, just like on a striped RAID.

    Complaint number 1, that I have no answer to, is just exactly how and when does a Core Storage set decide which drive to write to. Theoretically, if it's a Fusion drive it writes initially to the faster drive and keeps data needed for faster access there, but what constitutes faster? For example there are a number of posts on this site about the newer lines of Hitachi hard drives. These almost approach SATA 1 speeds with respect to media to system transfer speeds, which is quite fast for mechanically based HDDs. Is that fast enough to warrant treating the new Hitachi to, say an older OEM Fujitsu that runs like an old, OEM Fujitsu drive as the faster system? What's the threshold? It would seem to me the process of transferring data from a faster mechanical to a slower mechanical might end up being slower than a regular hard drive by itself. Where's the threshold? Is it known anywhere? I don't think so.

    With respect to item 2, common sense would tell me there ought to be some way to tell just exactly what files are recorded on a given drive in a Fusion set at a given time, but once again, this is a big secret. Scannerz can tell you which drive is bad because it segregates the Core Storage components individually, and this is certainly an asset, but you're still stuck with doing a complete restore on the unit just like it was a striped RAID unit because no one knows what files are on what disk at what time.

    Maybe a better question might be what are the benefits of a Fusion drive over a RAID set?
  8. Freyqq macrumors 601

    Dec 13, 2004
    neither are really a problem. A time machine backup, which you should do anyway, backs up both drives, so failure does not mean a loss of data.

    The most significant issue is that SSDs have a limited amount of writes before they fail, and fusion drive would increase the amount of writes as data is sent back and forth between drives. Regardless, most SSDs can handle a lot of writes before failure, so this isn't going to cause trouble for most people inside the lifespan of the computer.
  9. simonsi macrumors 601


    Jan 3, 2014
    Because the SSD and HDD are still seperate volumes and can fail and be restored individually. With a Fusion setup if either drive fails the volume is toast, you have to restore everything.

    With a well planned seperate drive setup you can have all the speed benefits but not have the additional hit in the event of drive failure.
  10. WorkerBee2015 thread starter macrumors member

    Jan 23, 2015
    There seem to be 2 different schools of thought here about whether a Fusion is a problem or not:

    NO, it makes no difference because you're supposed to do backups anyway

    YES, you can't control data on the unit at a given instant.

    If I manually split a volume with some type of SSD/HDD combo, then I'll know which unit failed and need only service/restore that. If the same SSD/HDD combo is in a Fusion setup, I have to service/restore the whole thing.

    HDDs and SSDs don't fail every other day. HDDs typically last me years. If I had to guess, I'd say on the average 5 years. SSDs are an unknown, but I have to guess they'll outlast HDDs. So, why should I be concerned about a failure occurring as long as I'm doing backups?
  11. simonsi macrumors 601


    Jan 3, 2014
    In my case inconvenience, I have bootable partitions on both drives so if/when a drive fails I can carry on and restore at leisure. Yes HDDs last years but they are still likely to fail at some point. Dead handy to still have a bootable system even under those circumstances.
  12. ZVH macrumors 6502

    Apr 14, 2012
    WD is demoing a prototype of a PCI 3TB hybrid with the SSD part of the hybrid having 128GB, which I think is the minimum configuration. IMHO that sort of puts to sleep the whole idea of a Fusion drive. Its self contained, it's a single unit, it has tons of storage, and it doesn't need to be managed by the OS. I'd think the management part of a Fusion would be slower than a hybrid of this type. Unfortunately, it isn't on the market yet.
  13. ZVH macrumors 6502

    Apr 14, 2012
    To elaborate on my previous post, apparently WD has had a similar configuration as described above available for some time, but the new part is that the prototype is using PCI. This has come up in several other threads. WD needs to do a better job marketing this stuff - I had no idea any of it existed.

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12 January 23, 2015