Experience with storage expansion via USB thumb drive

Discussion in 'MacBook Air' started by flatfoot, May 10, 2012.

  1. flatfoot macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Aug 11, 2009
    #1
    Hi there,

    I just want to share my experience. Maybe it will prove helpful to somebody.

    Over the time I've had my MBA, I noticed the internal 64GB (well, just under 60GB...) were filling slowly but steadily despite the fact that I tend to have only the most necessary stuff on it.
    So I recently bought a small-size Hama microSDHC card reader and a Patriot 32GB Class 10 SDHC card in order to move my iTunes library and my Dropbox folder onto it and leave it plugged in permanently.
    I went the reader + microSDHC card route because I couldn't find a small-size 32GB USB thumb drive for less money than the combination I got.

    What I noticed quickly and tolerated for the last few weeks was:
    • The MBA wouldn't hibernate anymore.
    • Reduced battery life (by ~2 hours!); displayed even after a full charge without the MBA having slept in the meantime. => The thumb drive sucks a lot of power.
    • After using the MBA off the battery until it shut down, the thumb drive was always reported as "not removed properly".

    I realized that I hardly ever use iTunes on my MBA, so I left the library folder on the thumb drive, moved the Dropbox folder back to the internal SSD and ripped the thumb drive out of the USB port.

    Now I have to plug it in every time I want to listen to some music, but as I said, I hardly ever do that on my MBA. The battery life (for which I bought it) is back to normal.
     

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  2. Fuchal macrumors 68020

    Joined:
    Sep 30, 2003
    #2
    This likely depends on the quality of the components of the USB flash drive.
     
  3. flatfoot thread starter macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Aug 11, 2009
    #3
    I wouldn't say quality. If anything, it's just about how well the components work together – and that would just be hit-and-miss.

    And I guess the high power consumption is due to the USB protocol having the computer poll the USB device all the time instead of the device being more autonomous (like with the FireWire protocol).
     
  4. Dangerous Theory macrumors 68000

    Joined:
    Jul 28, 2011
    Location:
    UK
    #4
    Working well together = qualitative components in my book.
     
  5. KoukiFC3S macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Jul 4, 2010
    #5
    Thanks. I wanted to put my dropbox on a thumb drive, but it looks like the loss in battery life is not worth it.
     
  6. mikeytrend macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jul 8, 2007
    Location:
    San Francisco, CA
    #6
    Thanks for sharing! I've been considering investing in a big flash drive because I know things are going to get a little tight once I install everything I'll need for school.

    I don't plan to store any music on my MBA, but for people that will here are some good options to consider (I'm looking at you 64GB MBAs).

    Music storage space is always hard with shrinking HD sizes and growing music libraries, but I've heard talks of actual streaming coming to iTunes Match ($25/year) and I'm sure that would trickle down to iTunes and the Music app in iOS 6.

    Spotify is another good paid solution, but you would have to remove the music from your iTunes library which can break things if you sync an iOS device with your MBA.

    And if you can get into Google Music, it's an invite-only beta right now (I believe), you can upload your music library to it for free and then stream it from the web.
     
  7. SlickShoes macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Jan 24, 2011
    #7
    Thanks for the info, I was worried the 128GB wouldn't be enough but can't afford the upgrade to 256GB, I have found nice small physical size flash drives of 64GB for £20 so I am going to invest in a couple of those!
     
  8. Time Less macrumors 6502

    Time Less

    Joined:
    Jul 29, 2010
    Location:
    Planet Earth
    #8
    do you think the power drain will be the same if you use SD slot instead?
     
  9. flatfoot thread starter macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Aug 11, 2009
    #9
    I think the SD card slot is connected via internal USB, so there should be the same problem, but it's worth a try.
     
  10. rohizzle121 macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Oct 30, 2011
    #10
  11. flatfoot thread starter macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Aug 11, 2009
    #11
    That link doesn't work.

    And:

     
  12. rohizzle121 macrumors newbie

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    Oct 30, 2011
  13. Time Less macrumors 6502

    Time Less

    Joined:
    Jul 29, 2010
    Location:
    Planet Earth
    #13
    you're right. with an sdhc plugged in, time remaining was roughly 6:30. when i unmounted the sdhc using disk utility, the time jumped between 7-8. the only app opened is chrome. huge difference.

    i would hate to this every time i want to open itunes so i searched on google for a script that would do this for me. i found this:

    http://hints.macworld.com/article.php?story=20120211184732735

    paste the code into applescript editor, change your disk name and save it as a script. now you can just run the script before you open itunes and run it again after you quit all while leaving the usb/sd card plugged in.

    to make things even easier i made the script into an app using platypus. that way i can have it in my dock to click or spotlight search to mount or unmount the usb/sd card.
     
  14. JonLa macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Dec 22, 2009
    #14
    Was it an actual power drain or was it just confusing the constant battery recalculations that go on as you use the mac?
     
  15. KoukiFC3S macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Jul 4, 2010
    #15
    I just received my Micro USB reader today. I was hoping to use my 64GB Micro SD to store my iPhoto library.

    1) The reader would only show 32GB available out of the 64GB. I suspect the reader is not SDXC compatible.

    2) I moved my iPhoto library over, and it works great. However, Time Machine won't back up the SD card. This is a deal breaker for me as I don't want to lose my data.
     

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