Help recovering botched User folder move

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by OracleRedux, Oct 30, 2010.

  1. OracleRedux, Oct 30, 2010
    Last edited: Nov 3, 2010

    OracleRedux macrumors member

    Nov 21, 2008
    Guildford, UK
    I have just added an SSD to my Mac Pro.
    I installed Snow Leopard onto the SSD but wanted to move the user directory off the SSD. However, I wasn't thinking, and rather than copying the user folders as created by the new installation to the HDD I instead altered the user directory under advanced user settings to point at the original HDD install.

    Further complicating things I specified a different initial user when installing - i.e Bob was user id 501 on the original install, and Fred user id 502. On this install Fred is 501 and Bob is 502. This means that when I pointed the SSD OSX install at the old HDD user directory (named Fred), I, Fred, didn't have any read/write permissions for the folder, Bob did.

    I know I have made this all sound complicated but I really am not sure what to do. Ideally I would wipe the SSD and start again but that isn't a trivial process. I am now feeling a little screwed and irritated with myself - I should never have pointed a new install at an old user directory complete with settings etc, and to compound things the user IDs are mixed up.
    Help would be very much appreciated!
  2. jenzjen macrumors 68000

    Aug 20, 2010
    IMHO, trying to untangle this seems like a big mountain unless someone else here can Gordian Knot your situation.

    If you don't mind me asking, what makes a complete re-install not easy given you just were installing SL onto the SSD to begin with?
  3. OracleRedux thread starter macrumors member

    Nov 21, 2008
    Guildford, UK
    It has to do with the way SSDs handle file deletion. It's hard to return them to a factory state unlike a HDD where you can write zeros across the whole drive - for an SSD that is decidedly the worst thing to do.
    This thread explains it in brief and includes links to the in depth explanation.

    I have decided that starting again is the best solution.
    I plan to:
    1) delete the partition on the SSD, no format, just delete it (i.e. delete the GUID partition table).
    2) Create a new partition.
    3) Install SL as before, and ensure this time I make Bob user id 501 on this new install.
    4) Copy the newly created vanilla User directory from the SSD to a new partition on the HDD.
    5) Selectively copy folders as required from the original HDD user folder to the sub directories on the new user partition.

    Avoid just linking the entire user folder, library and all, to avoid inheriting old settings and problems.

    As I understand it this merely means I have used an extra 5-6GB of my SSD sooner rather than later. Shouldn't be an issue so long as I leave space for the garbage collection to do it's job.
  4. philipma1957 macrumors 603


    Apr 13, 2010
    Howell, New Jersey
    It does not mean what you think. Just install from the beginning. You did not use up your ssd the way you think you did. What you did is write one time on some of the ssd. You can overwrite what you wrote. What you did do and can not be undone is you used 1 of the cells write lives. That is gone but you can write on each cell many times before you kill the cell. This is a different issue then filling the ssd> Thus making it slower. At least that is how I see it.
  5. cutterman macrumors regular

    Apr 27, 2010
    As above, the write fatigue issue for SSD's tends to be overblown.

    But, if you wanted to minimize the bytes written and reinstall try this:

    Grab an extra hard drive and reinstall to that.
    Use Carbon Copy Cloner and clone the install to your SSD. Only the data that is different will be written to the SSD.
  6. OracleRedux thread starter macrumors member

    Nov 21, 2008
    Guildford, UK
    Many thanks - I have already done the reinstall. Good idea for the future though - install onto a HDD, get it all configured as one wants it (adding/removing programmes, seeing how much space taken etc), then clone to the SSD. All appears to be well, I just have to begin the painstaking process to alter settings to get things 'right'. One thing which is bugging me at the moment is the font smoothing setting needs tweaking. Seem to have lost the customisation, perhaps because my last install was originally Leopard.
  7. Inconsequential, Nov 2, 2010
    Last edited: Nov 4, 2010

    Inconsequential macrumors 68000

    Sep 12, 2007
    Keep the user folder on the SSD.

    The library within in holds caches and god knows what else but HUGELY speeds up things when its on a SSD :)
  8. OracleRedux thread starter macrumors member

    Nov 21, 2008
    Guildford, UK
    I have already moved the User folder to the HDD. Would there be anything wrong with using a symlink to stick the library back on the SSD? (Leaving the rest of the User folder where it is, on the HDD)

    Alternatively, would I be better off moving the user folder apart from docs and photos and music etc (anything large) back to the SSD and then symlinking to those folders?
  9. lbeck macrumors 6502


    Dec 5, 2009
    I'd keep your user folder on your SSD for simplicity and safety. I know many have moved it with no issue but others have not. Just keep user folder on SSD and move all your data to the HD. You can point iTunes, iPhoto, etc to the HD and even your downloads folder and any app that puts stuff in documents can also be relocated. Apps use stuff in your library folder all the time and moving it to the HD wil slow it down. Use the speed of the SSD, nd don't worry about drive degrading, it's seriously overblown. Maybe older SSD's will be at way but newer ones like the OWC models handle that very well.
  10. cutterman macrumors regular

    Apr 27, 2010

    Sorry if this seems obvious, but since you have moved your user folder off the boot drive be sure you have enabled the root user or set up another admin account that stays on the boot SSD. If for some reason the drives get separated you wont be able to log in on your regular user account.
  11. OracleRedux thread starter macrumors member

    Nov 21, 2008
    Guildford, UK
    Thank you for pointing that out - I have left the user folder (obviously now deprecated) on the SSD but the two user accounts no longer point to it.
  12. OracleRedux thread starter macrumors member

    Nov 21, 2008
    Guildford, UK
    Ah, this means I need to move the user folder back to the SSD. No problem - I haven't transferred anything yet since I thought this issue might crop up.
    My plan is therefore as follows:
    1) Move the user folder back to the SSD using CCC and point both accounts at it.
    2) Use symlinks to point the Documents, Downloads, Desktop, Photos, Videos and Music folders within the individual home folders, at folders on the HDD.
    3) Selectively move any large folders within library as and when they crop up - some apps have a habit of dumping large quantities of rarely used files in ~/Library.

    My only misigiving is with apps like - I don't really want user mail files all sitting on the SSD which is what will happen if I move ~/Library back to the SSD. I assume I can symlink the ~/Library/Mail folder onto the HDD.
    (The problem is that a huge archive of mail is a few GBs of rarely used small files). Plus the write amplication with moving individual messages / editing / deleting could hammer the SSD somewhat.
    Perhaps I am being paranoid!
  13. cutterman macrumors regular

    Apr 27, 2010
    No doubt there will be many opinions on this question, but I would suggest just keeping your entire user folder on the HD. Your plan is probably feasible but seems unduly complicated. I doubt you would notice any difference in system speed by having your library files read off the HD.
  14. bpd115 macrumors 6502a


    Feb 4, 2003
    I'm just recovering from this very thing.

    I installed my new SSD last night and created an Admin account off the bat.

    My original boot drive is 2 500 gig drives in Raid 0.

    I copied my user folder from the HDD to another HDD (which was an IDE USB2 drive....took forever)

    Once copied, I wiped the 500 gig drives and destroyed the raid set, and created a new 1TB Raid 0 set.

    Now, while in the admin account I created a new user with the same short name as my old user account.

    I then copied this new user's directory from the SSD to the HDD.

    Placed the documents from the backup into the HDD doc folder, itunes library in the music folder, iphoto in the photo folder, etc.

    Pointed the user account in system prefs to the HDD.

    Rebooted and logged into the user account.

    The only problem I ran into was that I didn't have Read/Write permissions on most of the folders on the HDD, but once I changed that everything was back to normal.

    I didn't see a speed difference in opening apps (I opened a few while I was logged into admin to test), although the Raid set probably helps.
  15. OracleRedux thread starter macrumors member

    Nov 21, 2008
    Guildford, UK
    I also considered editing Read/Write permissions, however, I was using Finder to do so (via Cmd+I) and it wouldn't allow me to remove Bob from Read access - thus all my files are currently readable by the other admin user (user id 501). What other methods are there for changing permissions for those other than the logged in user? I am not entirely confident of my chmod abilities in this regard.
  16. xyzzy-xyzzy macrumors member

    Sep 19, 2010
    I thought I would contribute some info about this "move the home dir to a separate disk" discussion. I've kept my home directory separate from my boot disk since the days of OSX 10.1.

    One advantage (IMO) to this, that I haven't seen anyone mention, is that it allows you to use your same home dir no matter where you boot from, i.e., from your primary boot drive, backup of your boot, wherever. So if something happens to your main boot drive, you can easily restore it from a backup, and continue on your merry way.

    As for possible permissions problems of your home dir introduced when you move it, what I did (it's been a while since I moved my home dir:rolleyes:) was log in to my root (admin) account, and (in Terminal) create a gzip'ed tar file of my home dir, move the resulting tar.gz file to wherever, and expand the tar.gz file there (all while logged into root). This should preserve all your account permissions.
  17. Inconsequential macrumors 68000

    Sep 12, 2007
    Sorry I mean't user folder on the SSD. :eek:
  18. SkyNite macrumors member

    Sep 21, 2010
    Excellent point.

    IMHO, fears about moving one's home directory to a different drive are overblown.
  19. cjhall macrumors newbie

    Aug 25, 2010
    Las Vegas, NV
    User Download folder

    My User Folder & it's Download folder is on SSD with Tunes, Photos, Movies & Documents on HDD. How do I point the Download folder to HDD or do I just copy that folder also? Apple Techs suggested I keep it this way but I never asked about Mail downloads, Safari Favorites and App Downloads so I'd like some help if that's ok, thanks in advance.
  20. johnnymg macrumors 65816


    Nov 16, 2008

    Keep it simple and you'll have less problems in the long run.


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