Hard Disk Space - Running Out

Discussion in 'MacBook Air' started by jennie.walker, Nov 25, 2010.

  1. jennie.walker macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Nov 25, 2010
    Location:
    Tuscaloosa, AL
    #1
    More and more frequently I'm getting the running out of hard disk space message... just need some input as to what type of external device I should invest in. And should I use Time Machine along with the external drive? I've yet to face this situation, and need to do something quickly... I work at home using both my laptops and can't afford for this MBA to die on me!!!
     
  2. silverblack macrumors 68030

    silverblack

    Joined:
    Nov 27, 2007
    #2
    Any USB external drive will work. But you'll have to daisy chain it to have access to files stored externally.

    Alternatively, you can consider replacing the internal HDD to a larger one (and a faster one too if you have $ - solid state drive). It's more work upfront, and much more convenient down the road.
     
  3. teski macrumors regular

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    Oct 23, 2010
    #3
  4. Hellishness macrumors 65816

    Hellishness

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    Jan 27, 2010
    Location:
    Bay Area, CA
    #4
    So if you have all you stuff on an external HDD, does it work just like an internal SSD? Can I sync my iPhone to music/pics on the external (easily)?
     
  5. Glaxx macrumors regular

    Glaxx

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    Aug 19, 2007
    Location:
    Illinois
    #5
    I have my iTunes library on an external drive. Just plug it in, plug in the phone, and it works just like normal. Only con is that you have to have the drive plugged in to listen/watch things in iTunes. It really goes away from the portability idea in the first place, having to lug around an extra drive. I'm looking at options like big USB flash drives or SD cards to make it much more portable for my iTunes stuff.
     
  6. jennie.walker thread starter macrumors newbie

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    Nov 25, 2010
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    Tuscaloosa, AL
  7. Hellishness macrumors 65816

    Hellishness

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    Jan 27, 2010
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    Bay Area, CA
    #7
    We'll have 256GB SD's and thumb drives soon...the biggest (for a reasonable price) now is like 64, right?
     
  8. HardLuckStories macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Oct 23, 2010
    Location:
    UK, Manchester
    #8
    re itunes: I rediscovered the ipod classic as portable library storage device, where the original library lives on readynas duo raided. Viva la ipod classic!:D
     
  9. sjinsjca, Nov 27, 2010
    Last edited: Nov 27, 2010

    sjinsjca macrumors 68000

    sjinsjca

    Joined:
    Oct 30, 2008
    #9

    First, YES YES YES you should be using Time Machine to back up both your internal and any important external drives, unless you have a different backup strategy (such as Carbon Copy or maybe an online service such as Carbonite). Just have a backup strategy. Time Machine is quite good. Do see my note further on about configuring Time Machine to back up the external drive, though. By default, it will ignore the external drive.

    First, rather than going external, you might consider upgrading your internal hard disk to a more capacious model. If your machine is more than eighteen months or two years old, the drive may be getting close to the end of its lifespan anyway. It really is not difficult to change them out; at worse there will just be a bunch of teensy screws to deal with and, for pre-unibody units, some moderately annoying separation of the palm-rest from the body using a soft (non-snappable) plastic picnic knife ("spudger") or somesuch. If you're reasonably handy it is no big deal and will take you less than an hour. If you choose this route, start by backing your machine up with Time Machine. Then power everything down and carefully swap the hard disk for a compatible bigger unit using instructions from ifixit.com. Then, format the drive using your Snow Leopard CD and restore your machine via Time Machine. Voila: more space, and your machine will be exactly as it was. (Pick a drive with a higher spin-rate while you're at it.)

    If you go external, consider your planned usage of the external drive. If it's mostly for storage, any old USB drive will be fine. Bus-powered units are preferable to those requiring AC power. You can get good ones (such as the Western Digital Passports) for cheap at Costco etc. But if your usage will involve frequent usage and continuous I/O, such as when running a virtual machine from the external drive, then a drive with a FireWire interface will give you snappier performance. They cost a little more. The only issue to be aware of is that Mac laptops have crappy FireWire ports that don't snap securely, so connectors are easily dislodged. So you must be careful-- you can trash a drive if it disconnects at the wrong moment.

    Whatever you do, remember that the external drive needs to be backed up too. Time Machine will do that, but note that external drives are excluded from TM backups by default. You have to click the Options button to un-exclude it, then it will be backed up along with your internal disk. Note you'll need a backup drive at least twice as big as the combined size of the internal and external disks if you do this.

    My work involves having ready access to dozens of virtual machines of various configurations. Ergo: I use an external FireWire drive, a nice Western Digital unit, very pretty. Mobility is important for me, so I have a big stripe of ~50mm wide fuzzy black Velcro running across the back of my MacBook Pro about 35mm from the hinge. Doesn't look too bad. My external drive has a corresponding piece of mating Velcro on it so it may be securely attached. It's a lovely solution... but mind that FireWire cable! Easily dislodged on the Mac side. Before I found this FireWire drive, I used a USB Passport, and that worked acceptably, but the FireWire drive is perceptibly snappier.

    One final tip. You might consider why your disk is running out of space. There may be some things you can do. For example, virtual machines can be configured to span multiple files of smallish size so they gradually expand to their maximum size with usage, rather than taking up the entire lump right from the start. Similarly, if you routinely utilize disk images for storage (perhaps for security, as they are readily created and encrypted using Disk Utility), use the sparsebundle type, which again are chunked into multiple smallish files that gradually expand with usage rather than taking up their designated amount of space all-at-once. ...These tricks benefit both your available disk space on any given day, and they also really impact your backups since only the smallish files that have changed need to be backed up rather than one great big file that contains perhaps only minor changes.
     
  10. KPOM macrumors G5

    Joined:
    Oct 23, 2010
    #10
    64GB Class 10 SDXC drives are about $250 right now. Given that 32GB SDHC cards were about $250 when they first came out and are about $50 now, I expect the same to happen with 64GB cards over the next year. That's another reason it's a bit disappointing Apple couldn't fit an SD card slot in the 11", but it appears that there will be third parties entering the replacement SSD market for the 11" so that will be an option. The SATA SSD would be faster than the USB SDXC card slot, anyway.
     
  11. gwsat macrumors 68000

    gwsat

    Joined:
    Apr 12, 2008
    Location:
    Tulsa
    #11
    I bought the earlier 640GB version of this 750GB Toshiba portable USB drive from Amazon. These drives are very reasonably priced and are convenient to use.

    I would warn the OP to consider carefully before upgrading her MBA's flash storage with a third party module. Doing so would void her warranty. That, alone, would be enough to convince me not to do it. Apple has used highly specialized and very small Torx screws to attach the bottom of the case to the rest of the new MBAs. Obviously, Apple used such screws in order to discourage MBA owners from opening their MBA's case on their own. In short, the new MBAs are designed not to be upgradeable by customers.
     
  12. jamespa66 macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Jul 6, 2007
    Location:
    Kenosha, WI
    #12
    I would not trust Time Machine as your only back up. I rebuilt my MBA the other day trying to solve a problem. Lucky for me I also made a clone of my drive as when I did the restore from Time Machine I realized it was missing about a third of my files. I use Western Digital 1TB USB drive, very fast, and has been very reliable. I keep my iTunes library on it, a clone of my drive, files I seldom access and large files I don't want chewing up drive space on the MBA.
     
  13. gwsat macrumors 68000

    gwsat

    Joined:
    Apr 12, 2008
    Location:
    Tulsa
    #13
    I have used Time Machine backups to a Time Capsule for nearly 3 years. Last month I used Migration Assistant on my then new MBA to transfer the MBP's setup from the Time Capsule to the MBA. It worked perfectly. The only files that Time Machine can't handle for me have been individual Windows files in a Fusion VM. The entire VM, though, can be backed up in Time Machine. I use a USB portable drive to backup individual Windows files.
     

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