External Hard Drives

Discussion in 'iMac' started by jw3571, Jun 11, 2017.

  1. jw3571 macrumors regular

    May 21, 2010
    I have a 2011 iMac that is completely filled up on storage, I have a lot of music and photo's. I've considered upgrading to the new iMac but after reading a few posts on here, it seems people are still recommending going with the SSD drives and then using an external. Something just seems wrong to me about buying a computer and then still having to have an external. I've only used an external for back up in the past. How does it work, you obviously have to have the external on all the time, does that wear it out quick? If I have my music and pictures on an external is there a huge delay to load it? Is that really the best option?
  2. kschendel macrumors 6502a

    Dec 9, 2014
    If I'm not mistaken, your 2011 iMac only has USB 2.0 ports, not the faster USB3.0. For most interactive uses, there is a "fast enough" disk speed and USB 2 isn't fast enough, while USB 3 is (and USB 3.1 gen 2 beats all but the fastest internal drives, whether HDD or SSD).

    The external SSD recommendation you read about is partly a cost saving move and partly due to the current size limits for affordable SSD. Apple is charging a very high increment for the 1 Tb internal, so it's far more cost effective to put in a smaller internal unit and then expand to an external. Since the new machines have the very fast USB 3.1 (as well as Thunderbolt 3, which is also very fast but external units are more expensive), you won't see a speed difference internal vs external for most uses. And, if you need more than 1 Tb storage, you have to either go with HDD (slow) or add an external SSD (fast), since >1Tb SSD's are rare and very expensive today. A properly chosen external hard drive won't wear out any faster than an internal (i.e. you pick a drive meant for always-on use, not a backup grade drive), and of course SSD doesn't need to spin-down to save power or wear.

    On your machine I think you'll see a significant delay using an external drive. If you can arrange to move stuff you very rarely access to the external, that might be fine. If splitting your libraries is too inconvenient, then you either have to put a larger HDD into your iMac, or buy a new(er) one.
  3. hfg macrumors 68040


    Dec 1, 2006
    Cedar Rapids, IA. USA
    Don't forget that you can easily add a bus-powered external drive for additional archive storage and simply velcro it to the stand for convenience. This is a Seagate 4TB RAID-0 USB 3.0 drive on a 27" iMac. Of course, only having USB 2 available on an older Imac will limit the effectiveness of the faster external drives.

    iMac with attached disk drive.jpg
  4. psiquest_x macrumors newbie

    Dec 6, 2016
    I have an eight year old 2Tb Buffalo Linkstation at home that I use for video storage and such. I only turn it on when I need it so there is a nominal delay for it to spin up and connect, but nothing unusual. It's connected via USB 2 and I haven't run into many issues playing videos (mostly 720p & 1080) from it.

    At work I have a Synology Diskstation for backup & archival that connects via the network. Our IT department swears everything is gigabit, but I don't really get a sense that it's faster than the USB 2 buffalo at home.
  5. Fishrrman macrumors G5


    Feb 20, 2009
    It would help if you told us how large your existing internal drive is, and how much space you have left.

    With a 2011 iMac you don't have USB3, so your only practical option for adding an external "boot SSD" would be via thunderbolt.

    It's possible, but pre-assembled thunderbolt SSD's can be expensive.
    It WILL give you a nice speed boost, and the iMac will probably "feel like a newer machine".
    But I'm not sure if you want to spend the $$$ for a 6-year-old Mac.

    You could also pick up a "bare" 2.5" SSD, and a thunderbolt enclosure, and do it that way.

    Be aware that about the only thunderbolt enclosure you can buy is (or was?) the Delock, and it may no longer be available.

    If your wallet isn't hurting, it might be time to start thinking about a new iMac.
    Or... consider picking up a platter-based external, perhaps 1-2gb in size, and "move off" some of the stuff you've accumulated on the existing internal drive.

    You don't REALLY need all that stuff on there.
    A lot of it could exist just as well on an external...
  6. Tjmckay4 macrumors member

    Apr 24, 2014
    Perth, West Aus
    That's what I have - Seagate thunderbolt adapter with a 120gb Samsung 850 evo. Do they still sell the adapters?
  7. jw3571 thread starter macrumors regular

    May 21, 2010
    My existing drive is a 1tb, i only have 2gb left so i need to do something

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