Fusion Drive and Lightroom

Discussion in 'Mac mini' started by vandrv, Mar 11, 2013.

  1. vandrv macrumors regular

    Jan 27, 2008
    I have been planning on upgrading to a new Mac Mini for a while now, and cannot quite decide on which hard drive option would be the best for my situation. I am a photographer, and will use this machine for editing. Currently, I am using an Imac. I have a large number of photographs and the way I upload them to my computer is that I upload them to two external hard drives. I don't keep any on the internal drive. I'm wondering if I get the mini with fusion drive, would I have control over where my files are stored, or would I be better off just getting the mini with an SSD and no internal drive? I'm not sure I'm explaining my question exactly, but I guess what I would like to know is does fusion drive take away your ability to select where files are stored? thanks for any help.
  2. FreakinEurekan macrumors 68040


    Sep 8, 2011
    Eureka Springs, Arkansas
    Fusion combines an internal 128GB SSD and internal 1TB HDD into a single 1.1TB volume. It doesn't affect how files are stored on external drives, that will behave just as it does on your iMacs.
  3. benwiggy macrumors 68020

    Jun 15, 2012
    You can still store files on any volume you like. Your external drives are each one volume (or more if partitioned); the Fusion drive is one volume that happens to made of two physical disks.

    If you store a file on the Fusion drive, then the OS will decide where blocks of that data should be stored, based on usage. Some people feel this is taking away "control" from them: in fact, it is managing the files more thoroughly than they ever could.

    As the Fusion drive is cheaper than the SSD option (from Apple), I would say that it makes sense to get the Fusion drive rather than the SSD for any reason.
  4. vandrv thread starter macrumors regular

    Jan 27, 2008
    Thanks for these replies. My original plan was to get the refurb mini and swap to an SSD myself, but I haven't been quick enough to get one when they become available, and after reading some of the horror stories here, I'm not sure i want to do too much inside the mini. But it sounds like with fusion drive I can keep my applications on the SSD and still edit photos from an external hard drive, so maybe this would be the better way to go.
  5. 7enderbender macrumors 6502a


    May 11, 2012
    North East US
    I'm looking to get one in the next few months for that very same purpose. When reading about it I found a bunch of issues with the fusion drive idea. Biggest issue is the lack of control of where things go. I like to keep system files and data files separate. I know, silly old Windows habit but works fine for me.

    Especially for photography in my opinion you want the SSD speed for the system processes and a fast second drive for current and temporary/scratch disk files, etc. I understand that people here disagree with this and will repeat the "Apple didn't intend it this way so it's not necessary".

    My plan is to get the i7 version with the cheap drive, toss the drive and replace it with a decent SSD and a 7200rpm HD and then set this up as a non-fusion drive. All finished photos and backups go up on external drives and servers.

    Bottom-line not exactly cheap and you (kind of) lose your warranty. But I see no other solution for photography short of getting a Mac Pro. Or stick to Windows PCs but then there is the problem of finding a decent Win laptop for photography or dealing with cross-platform file exchange and Adobe licensing issues (and no, I will never buy their cloud service/subscription version).


    Yes and no. The applications will not be on the SSD necessarily. Especially once things start to fill up a bit stuff will be all over the place with no control over any of it. If one of the two drive fails you're out of business (only until fixed and your backup moved back of course). If you don't want to temper with things (I can relate) have it done by OWC or so. Otherwise I'd prefer a SSD only solution since then you can still control what's on it and partition it for dual boot or something like that.
  6. deconstruct60 macrumors 604

    Mar 10, 2009
    This manual placement issue is largely overblown.

    Users don't generally control how HFS+ uses its cache of storage contents in RAM. Users don't generally control how storage drives use their cache (RAM in both SSDs and HDDs). They don't control how SSDs do they mapping of which blocks contain which pieces of data.

    This isn't really about "intent". If folks could actually point to mainstream, not quirky corner cases, where the caching heuristics of CoreStorage were bad over long term then would be a point. Mostly though this is about control and time shifting longer disk copies to different points in time.

    At a precision level of control? No. However, no control at all? Also no. If an app hasn't been used in 2 months then yeah it may have been shifted to the HDD. However, how possibly time critical could this app be if hasn't been used in 2 months. If use once every month and it takes 1 minute longer to load then have saved yourself all of 6 minutes over the course of 6 months. That is versus not having some photo reference maybe every week or so not on the SSD. The notion that people can more accurately track which of 100's or 1,000's of files actually got used and how often over the span of 4-6 weeks as well as a computer is a bit off. There is not of much empirical evidence that works well over the long run.

    If the active working set if bigger than 128GB - OS/App size then Fusion presents a problem. However, for a 30GB OS/App size that's about 90GB of "elbow room". A mariginally larger workset size of 128GB would work if the SSD component was 200GB in size ( could partition down a 256GB drive if going to be writing very intensively ).

    If have data on only one drive and that one drive you are out of business too. The need for back-ups is the same.

    The difference is in the length of time to restore from back up. It isn't necessarily a question of data loss.
  7. vandrv thread starter macrumors regular

    Jan 27, 2008
    Thanks for all the help here. I think I will stick to my original plan and get the mini with just the hard drive and replace it with an SSD. Now I just need to decide if all the installation problems are overblown, o whether I should believe them, and send it out to be done.
  8. Santabean2000 macrumors 68000


    Nov 20, 2007
    Pulling the mini apart to install new drives is relatively straight forward. Just take your time and go gently; no worries.

    A 256GB 840 Pro + a 1TB HDD = good to go!
  9. vandrv thread starter macrumors regular

    Jan 27, 2008
    I consider myself a reasonably handy person, and have done a fair amount of work inside of computers, byt reading all the stories here, of people looking at the mini funny, and having connectors fall apart has me a bit gun shy.
  10. Santabean2000 macrumors 68000


    Nov 20, 2007
    It is a bit tight inside, but the only connector that is really a bit awkward is the IR one.

    Use the OWC series of instructional videos and it's hard to go too wrong. Just take some time; don't rush. If you have any prior experience (mine was very little) then you have nothing to be afraid of.
  11. vandrv thread starter macrumors regular

    Jan 27, 2008
    I've watched the videos several times, and it certainly doesn't look particularly hard. If I hadn't read of some of the problems here, I wouldn't hesitate. But I'm going to go ahead and order the data doubler and give it a try. What's the worst that can happen? I wind up with a $700.00 paperweight.:D
  12. Santabean2000 macrumors 68000


    Nov 20, 2007
    Nice. After my upgrade I have to say my mini is now my favourite machine. It's the hub of my house, the glue that keeps everything together and organised. An inconspicuous superstar.

    I've just got to bite the bullet and order up a Pegasus J4 and all shall be in order.

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