External SSD on Thunderbolt 1

csoc

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Sep 30, 2018
4
0
Hi,

I have a 21.5”, Mid 2011 iMac running High Sierra. I would like to lengthen the life of the machine, so I was thinking of hooking up an external SSD to its thunderbolt 1 port. Ideally this external SSD would also be bus-powered.

The plan is to put the OS and all my apps onto this SSD (if not more), and boot from it.

Before I commit to any purchases I would like to make sure that this is feasible. Will there be any issues with APFS on a bus powered booting external SSD with High Sierra on a machine this age?

Is it possible to buy an external Thunderbolt 1 bus powered enclosure? All ads seem to say just Thunderbolt.

Will using a Thunderbolt 2 cable/enclosure make any difference? I have a Time Machine drive. Is migrating difficult?

I’m reluctant to go the DIY internal SSD route, but I suppose I might if the external option is too complicated / significantly slower / expensive. If I was to go internal I would replace entire HDD and get a 1 or 2gb (correction: 1 or 2tb!) SSD.

Any advice appreciated.
 
Last edited:

SilverBen

macrumors newbie
Sep 21, 2011
13
7
California
W
Hi,

I have a 21.5”, Mid 2011 iMac running High Sierra. I would like to lengthen the life of the machine, so I was thinking of hooking up an external SSD to its thunderbolt 1 port. Ideally this external SSD would also be bus-powered.

The plan is to put the OS and all my apps onto this SSD (if not more), and boot from it.

Before I commit to any purchases I would like to make sure that this is feasible. Will there be any issues with APFS on a bus powered booting external SSD with High Sierra on a machine this age?

Is it possible to buy an external Thunderbolt 1 bus powered enclosure? All ads seem to say just Thunderbolt.

Will using a Thunderbolt 2 cable/enclosure make any difference? I have a Time Machine drive. Is migrating difficult?

I’m reluctant to go the DIY internal SSD route, but I suppose I might if the external option is too complicated / significantly slower / expensive. If I was to go internal I would replace entire HDD and get a 1 or 2gb SSD.

Any advice appreciated.
Thunderbolt “1” is fast enough if you don’t want to tinker with the internals. Bus powered will be fine. If you were daisy-chaining a bunch of TB devices then you may begin to see a slowdown. You can then use the internal as a clone backup.
For your last sentence, I suppose you meant 1 or 2 terabytes instead of gigabytes.
[doublepost=1538428779][/doublepost]
Hi,

I have a 21.5”, Mid 2011 iMac running High Sierra. I would like to lengthen the life of the machine, so I was thinking of hooking up an external SSD to its thunderbolt 1 port. Ideally this external SSD would also be bus-powered.

The plan is to put the OS and all my apps onto this SSD (if not more), and boot from it.

Before I commit to any purchases I would like to make sure that this is feasible. Will there be any issues with APFS on a bus powered booting external SSD with High Sierra on a machine this age?

Is it possible to buy an external Thunderbolt 1 bus powered enclosure? All ads seem to say just Thunderbolt.

Will using a Thunderbolt 2 cable/enclosure make any difference? I have a Time Machine drive. Is migrating difficult?

I’m reluctant to go the DIY internal SSD route, but I suppose I might if the external option is too complicated / significantly slower / expensive. If I was to go internal I would replace entire HDD and get a 1 or 2gb SSD.

Any advice appreciated.
Also, in reference to time machine... you can, but if you use carbon copy Cloner or super duper or similar, you’ll be better off in my humble opinion. This doesn’t mean to stop using time machine, please do. Matter of fact if you’re up to date on time machine then you’ll be fine.

Thunderbolt 2 is backwards compatible with 1.

Conventional ssd should run at full speed. If you go the newer more expensive NVMe ssd route, then you will hit a bottleneck, but it will still be extremely fast compared to spinning disks.

Enjoy
 
  • Like
Reactions: csoc

cruisin

macrumors 6502a
Apr 1, 2014
962
223
Canada
No major issue, aside from Apple not enabling trim on 3rd party SSDs. Some people are fine without it and I recall seeing a trim enabler for those that needed it.

The high price of the enclosure (compared to the $10 bus powered USB 3 one that I use) could be considered a issue as you are throwing money at an older computer that won't be needed on a USB 3 or USB C based computer. Check pricing and stock, especially as most places are stocking Thunderbolt 3 enclosures (Thunderbolt 3 uses the USB C plug).

The speed is limited by the slowest link, and Thunderbolt 2 will still work at Thunderbolt 1 speeds due to the slower port.

Even if it would somehow be faster a simple Sata SSD hovers around 0.5 Gbps, and you could probably run it over USB 2 with minimal performance loss (unless you are constantly reading or writing files). You are not going to miss anything (Thunderbolt 1 is 10 Gbps). You need modern NVMe SSDs or a different device (like a 4K display) to see a difference.

Migrating is easy, you mostly wait for the process to finish. Make sure to make the same account when you install macOS, as the migration will not merge two different accounts. Otherwise you will have two accounts and need to delete the temporary one.
 
  • Like
Reactions: csoc

nambuccaheadsau

macrumors 68000
Oct 19, 2007
1,832
432
Nambucca Heads Australia
Used a Silicon Power 240GB SSD externally via TB1 on that model and it worked like a dream and was plenty fast. Clone the contents of the internal over with SuperDuper or CCC, select as boot drive bin System Preferences > Startup Disk and you are away.
 
  • Like
Reactions: csoc

Fishrrman

macrumors Core
Feb 20, 2009
19,455
6,750
OP wrote:
"The plan is to put the OS and all my apps onto this SSD (if not more), and boot from it.
Before I commit to any purchases I would like to make sure that this is feasible. Will there be any issues with APFS on a bus powered booting external SSD with High Sierra on a machine this age?"


What you propose is just what I'd recommend, so long as you don't spend too much on the tbolt drive.

My suggestion is to spend as little as you can.
Get a 250gb drive.
Or, at the most, 500gb.
(really, 250gb will be "all you need")

Set up your external boot drive with the OS, apps, and your accounts.
BUT -- if you have large libraries "of stuff" (movies, pics, music) that won't fit on 250gb, you can "leave them" on the internal drive. They don't "need the speed" of the SSD, and they will exist happily on the internal drive.

I've been booting and running my 2012 Mac Mini from an external SSD since the day I took it out of the box in January 2013. Runs as good today as it did the very first day.

ONE OTHER THING:
I recommend that you DO NOT use APFS on the external drive.
Set it up for HFS+ instead.

I recommend that you use CarbonCopyCloner to "clone over" the OS, apps, and your accounts to the SSD (CCC lets you exclude folders and files -- such as the "Movies" folder if it's too large, etc.).
CCC is FREE to download and use for 30 days, so it will cost you nothing to do it this way.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Tozovac and csoc

csoc

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Sep 30, 2018
4
0
OP wrote:
"The plan is to put the OS and all my apps onto this SSD (if not more), and boot from it.
Before I commit to any purchases I would like to make sure that this is feasible. Will there be any issues with APFS on a bus powered booting external SSD with High Sierra on a machine this age?"


What you propose is just what I'd recommend, so long as you don't spend too much on the tbolt drive.

My suggestion is to spend as little as you can.
Get a 250gb drive.
Or, at the most, 500gb.
(really, 250gb will be "all you need")

Set up your external boot drive with the OS, apps, and your accounts.
BUT -- if you have large libraries "of stuff" (movies, pics, music) that won't fit on 250gb, you can "leave them" on the internal drive. They don't "need the speed" of the SSD, and they will exist happily on the internal drive.

I've been booting and running my 2012 Mac Mini from an external SSD since the day I took it out of the box in January 2013. Runs as good today as it did the very first day.

ONE OTHER THING:
I recommend that you DO NOT use APFS on the external drive.
Set it up for HFS+ instead.

I recommend that you use CarbonCopyCloner to "clone over" the OS, apps, and your accounts to the SSD (CCC lets you exclude folders and files -- such as the "Movies" folder if it's too large, etc.).
CCC is FREE to download and use for 30 days, so it will cost you nothing to do it this way.
OP wrote:
"The plan is to put the OS and all my apps onto this SSD (if not more), and boot from it.
Before I commit to any purchases I would like to make sure that this is feasible. Will there be any issues with APFS on a bus powered booting external SSD with High Sierra on a machine this age?"


What you propose is just what I'd recommend, so long as you don't spend too much on the tbolt drive.

My suggestion is to spend as little as you can.
Get a 250gb drive.
Or, at the most, 500gb.
(really, 250gb will be "all you need")

Set up your external boot drive with the OS, apps, and your accounts.
BUT -- if you have large libraries "of stuff" (movies, pics, music) that won't fit on 250gb, you can "leave them" on the internal drive. They don't "need the speed" of the SSD, and they will exist happily on the internal drive.

I've been booting and running my 2012 Mac Mini from an external SSD since the day I took it out of the box in January 2013. Runs as good today as it did the very first day.

ONE OTHER THING:
I recommend that you DO NOT use APFS on the external drive.
Set it up for HFS+ instead.

I recommend that you use CarbonCopyCloner to "clone over" the OS, apps, and your accounts to the SSD (CCC lets you exclude folders and files -- such as the "Movies" folder if it's too large, etc.).
CCC is FREE to download and use for 30 days, so it will cost you nothing to do it this way.
Hi Fishrrman, why do you suggest not using APFS on external boot ssd?
 

Fishrrman

macrumors Core
Feb 20, 2009
19,455
6,750
"Hi Fishrrman, why do you suggest not using APFS on external boot ssd?"

I prefer HFS+, but... I'm on the verge of changing my mind, re HFS+ v APFS.
I (personally) will continue to use HFS+.
There have been numerous posts from users who use APFS on external drives, and who experience slow boot times.
This isn't the case with an HFS+ external drive -- I have Mojave on a USB3 SSD, HFS+, and it boots up very quickly. NO DELAYS.

BUT... the problem with Mojave running under HFS+ is that Software Update doesn't seem to be able to "see" necessary OS upgrades when they become available.
So... that could be an impediment to most folks (it's not for me).

So... I guess for the average user who wants an external boot drive... it's probably better to set it up as APFS.
However... for "data only" (non-booting) drives, I still recommend HFS+ (so that drive can be connected to ANY Mac).
 
  • Like
Reactions: csoc

csoc

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Sep 30, 2018
4
0
Thanks for all the replies! Delay between posts due to 3 kids under 4 keeping us busy! :):):)

So
, I’ve HS installed on the external SSD (APFS). My Time Machine is all up to date in case of any mishaps. Now I want to migrate some folders over to the SSD and make it my boot drive.

I figure I should move System Folder, Library Folder and Applications Folder from root level. But should I move my user Library from my home folder also? (and other users' libraries?). Would that make apps etc work faster?

The SSD has 256gb, how much space should I leave for the OS to breathe and grow - 20%, 10%?

After migration, do I just delete the original folders on the hard drive? Or perhaps leave them for a few weeks just to make sure everything is running ok?

Also, when I eventually get a new iMac, I presume I can just use Time Machine to migrate. So (thinking aloud here) I need to make sure that TM is backing up from both drives (the spinning internal and the SSD external). Is there anything else I should watch out for here as I want to get it right first time!

All advice very much appreciated.
 
Last edited:

nambuccaheadsau

macrumors 68000
Oct 19, 2007
1,832
432
Nambucca Heads Australia
I use both a USB3 and TB external SSDs, both Kingston Now. They copy SuperDuper at about the same speed, however booting time on the TB SSD is about 12 seconds, on the USB3 about 40 seconds. Both are APFS and no problems at all.
 

mikehalloran

macrumors 68000
Oct 14, 2018
1,732
440
The Sillie Con Valley
Any part of this that compares TB1 and TB2 can be ignored. If the external is not a RAID array or NVMe 2, the limiting factor is SATA III, about half the speed of TB1. TB2 cannot make anything faster on a 2011 iMac.

SATA III is slightly faster than USB 3. Unfortunately, a 2011 supports USB 2 (or 1.1 through the keyboard ports).
 

csoc

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Sep 30, 2018
4
0
aarrgghh!

I was wondering if I needed TRIM or not, so I emailed the manufacturer of the external SSD I'm hoping to boot from (a 256GB Transcend StoreJet 500), to see if TRIM was needed, and this is the reply I got -

"We do not guarantee that booting (and TRIM support) will work from this external device as it is designed as external storage."

So I was wondering if anyone has experience of booting from the same SSD, and do I need TRIM?
 

nambuccaheadsau

macrumors 68000
Oct 19, 2007
1,832
432
Nambucca Heads Australia
aarrgghh!

I was wondering if I needed TRIM or not, so I emailed the manufacturer of the external SSD I'm hoping to boot from (a 256GB Transcend StoreJet 500), to see if TRIM was needed, and this is the reply I got -

"We do not guarantee that booting (and TRIM support) will work from this external device as it is designed as external storage."

So I was wondering if anyone has experience of booting from the same SSD, and do I need TRIM?

TRIM will work on the TB external SSD as it is seen as SATA, but not on USB as it is seen as mass storeage.
 

Fishrrman

macrumors Core
Feb 20, 2009
19,455
6,750
If you have a USB3 SSD, don't worry about TRIM.
It's the most over-rated "Mac issue" in recent history.
 

SaSaSushi

macrumors 601
Aug 8, 2007
4,103
495
Takamatsu, Japan
If you have a USB3 SSD, don't worry about TRIM.
It's the most over-rated "Mac issue" in recent history.
This apparently based entirely on his own anecdotal evidence of only booting from USB3 SSDs.

TRIM can make a huge difference, not only in performance over extended periods of time but also in reducing write amplification and thus increasing the finite life of the SSD.

I've booted the OS from both USB3 and Thunderbolt 1 SSDs. I'm currently using the same Samsung 840 Evo in a Thunderbolt 1 enclosure I was booting my Late 2013 iMac for years with and it is still performing ably for BootCamp.
 
Last edited:
  • Like
Reactions: g-7 and Weaselboy

Mike Alm

macrumors newbie
Mar 19, 2020
3
0
Thanks for all the replies! Delay between posts due to 3 kids under 4 keeping us busy! :):):)

So
, I’ve HS installed on the external SSD (APFS). My Time Machine is all up to date in case of any mishaps. Now I want to migrate some folders over to the SSD and make it my boot drive.

I figure I should move System Folder, Library Folder and Applications Folder from root level. But should I move my user Library from my home folder also? (and other users' libraries?). Would that make apps etc work faster?

The SSD has 256gb, how much space should I leave for the OS to breathe and grow - 20%, 10%?

After migration, do I just delete the original folders on the hard drive? Or perhaps leave them for a few weeks just to make sure everything is running ok?

Also, when I eventually get a new iMac, I presume I can just use Time Machine to migrate. So (thinking aloud here) I need to make sure that TM is backing up from both drives (the spinning internal and the SSD external). Is there anything else I should watch out for here as I want to get it right first time!

All advice very much appreciated.

Hi CSOC, May I ask what equipment did you get for your setup? I am also trying to do this route.
 

diegodp

macrumors newbie
Mar 15, 2020
13
0
Where could you find a SSD store with thunderbolt 1 or 2 plug?
I don't find them
 

Mike Alm

macrumors newbie
Mar 19, 2020
3
0
Silicon power have a new model Thunder T11 but its expensive. There are other companies have it.
.

But I am looking to use a USB C SSD enclosure with a 256 SSD and use Apple adapter Thunderbold 3 to Thunderbolt 2, its bi-directional.
 

diegodp

macrumors newbie
Mar 15, 2020
13
0
But I am looking to use a USB C SSD enclosure with a 256 SSD and use Apple adapter Thunderbold 3 to Thunderbolt 2, its bi-directional.
IMHO in that case, costs are so high because you buy: SSD, Adapter and cable.
 

Mike Alm

macrumors newbie
Mar 19, 2020
3
0
IMHO in that case, costs are so high because you buy: SSD, Adapter and cable.
So true, the search is on, and I am searching for used equipment to augment the cost. I just found this video now.
.
 
Last edited:

joevt

macrumors 65816
Jun 21, 2012
1,294
616
Silicon power have a new model Thunder T11 but its expensive. There are other companies have it.
.

But I am looking to use a USB C SSD enclosure with a 256 SSD and use Apple adapter Thunderbold 3 to Thunderbolt 2, its bi-directional.
Thunderbolt 3 to Thunderbolt 2 adapter is for Thunderbolt devices only. It can't be used to connect USB-C SSDs directly (unless it is a female Thunderbolt 3 connector and has its own power supply).

Consider connecting a Thunderbolt 3 dock (or any Thunderbolt 3 device with two Thunderbolt 3 ports) with the Apple Thunderbolt 3 to Thunderbolt 2 adapter. Then you can connect USB 3.1 gen 1 (5 Gbps) or gen 2 devices (10 Gbps) to the dock. You can also connect Thunderbolt 3 devices. It's expensive but can be used with a future Mac when you decide to upgrade.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Mike Alm

sublunar

macrumors 65816
Jun 23, 2007
1,337
781
Thunderbolt 1/2 gear will be increasingly expensive now compared to the value of the iMac, I have a TB2 dock which I connected to a 2012 Mac mini (which has a Thunderbolt 1 port) which I hung eSATA drives off (using power from spare USB ports). That worked well.
 
Register on MacRumors! This sidebar will go away, and you'll see fewer ads.