How should I set up my new mini with 1TB HDD and 240 GB SDD?

Discussion in 'Mac mini' started by tominabox1, Dec 3, 2013.

  1. tominabox1 macrumors regular

    Dec 18, 2008
    My new 2012 i7 mini will arrive Friday and I'm going to be putting in a 240GB SDD in addition to the 1TB HDD. The question is, how should I set up the system to perform at top speed? Do I move user stuff to the HDD? Is there a current best way to do that? I plan on doing a fresh install of everything basically though I have my current machine all saved in Time Machine.

    So what is the best way to set it up?
  2. costabunny macrumors 68020


    May 15, 2008
    Weymouth, UK
    Best way simples install the os on the SSD and use the hdd for stuff like itunes and documents etc.

    Apps all on the ssd.

    Pretty simple

    If you use carbon copy cloner it will transfer the new os from the hdd to the ssd for you, reboot selecting the ssd to boot from, and you are done
  3. mvmanolov macrumors 6502a

    Aug 27, 2013
    except with a 240 SSD you have loads of space so i'd load things that you use often on the sad as well, but make a separate partition for that. so iTunes library (size permuting of course) and user files i'd keep on the SSD.

    i have the same setup as OP and my HDD holds my software install, vide library, some older backups that i want to keep and my net boot images. all the rest is on the ssd :D if you have the space may as well use the speed.

    I partitioned 100gig for the osx leaving plenty of room for the ox and whatever other apps i may install and 140 on the SSD is used for miscellaneous things (iTunes, photos, shared user files, pdfs)

    EDIT: wow i can't type today :(
  4. tominabox1 thread starter macrumors regular

    Dec 18, 2008
  5. mvmanolov macrumors 6502a

    Aug 27, 2013
    Software installation files like .dmg's
  6. Fishrrman macrumors P6


    Feb 20, 2009
    Do you have any problems with having/managing two (or three) drive volumes on your desktop?

    My suggestion:

    Use the SSD as your boot drive (of course). It will contain the OS, apps, user accounts, and most-frequently-accessed data files.

    You might consider keeping some things that would otherwise be stored in your home folder on the HDD. This includes things like movies, photos (especially if you have a lot of them), music files. You -do- want your home folder itself on the SSD. In my case, I keep the home folder there, but some sub-folders in it (example: "Movies") are completely empty.

    Unless your archived email has grown to a huge size, it makes sense to keep your mail folder readily accessible on the SSD.

    The HDD can be used for other files that aren't accessed often (such as .dmg files of important apps, etc.).

    I would also recommend this:

    Consider partitioning your HDD into two partitions.
    The first should be equal to (or a little less than) the size of your SSD.
    The second can be whatever space remains.
    Then, keep a clone of your SSD on it by using either CarbonCopyCloner or SuperDuper.

    The reason for doing this is that now you'll have an INSTANTLY-ACCESSIBLE (shouting very intentional) second boot source with "everything there". If for any reason you can't boot from the SSD, you can "switch-boot" over to the HDD and get to work on the problem. No need to fool with the recovery partition or do a "restore" from Time Machine -- because you'll have an exact copy of your SSD always close-at-hand and ready to go as a replacement.

    I recall reading here in the forums how (unlike HDDs, which may give evidence of impending failure) SSDs can fail quite suddenly. Not saying this is going to happen to you any time soon. But if it ever does, having that second bootable partition "built right in" is going to make a BIG difference in getting back up and running.
  7. mvmanolov macrumors 6502a

    Aug 27, 2013
    that is also a very good point. if you don't have a Time Capsule or an equivalent for backups, it may be a wise plan to partition the HDD and use part of it as a backup, the OSX time machine app is a bit of overkill as it will backup every hour but with CCC you can set backups at a wide variety of intervals :D
  8. ColdCase macrumors 68030

    Feb 10, 2008
    The TimeMachineEditor app will schedule TimeMachine backups as you desire, daily weekly, monthly.... whatever.

    Backing up every hour has its advantages as the most you may loose is an hour of work.
  9. Deanster macrumors regular

    Jun 6, 2005
    I'm using a DIY Fusion setup on my 27" iMac, created with these instructions:

    and it's been working perfectly for about 8 months now. it shows up as one big drive with the combined size of my SSD and big hard drive. OSX keeps the system, apps and frequently-used data on the SSD, and all the big bulky iTunes folders and everything else on the HD. It's darn near as fast as having a pure SSD setup, since it's always writing to the SSD, and reads from the HD are very fast also.

    Highly recommended, the procedure isn't very technical (though it does require you to use Terminal - be vewy vewy careful!)

    I totally get why Apple isn't promoting this approach - can't have grandma gacking her hard drive, right? But it's a HUGE win for anyone wanting tiered storage - I'd done the two-drive thing for more than a year before, and having to keep track of where everything was, keep OSX clear about where to find the home/iTunes/etc folder, and make sure that other apps could find things in non-default places was a giant pain. DIY Fusion gives you all the benefits of tiered storage, with SSD speed and spinning drive cheap mass storage, with none of the hassle or overhead.

    You'll want a good backup copy (or two) set aside, since creating the new combined drive wipes the existing drives - SuperDuper is perfect for this purpose.
  10. allan.nyholm macrumors 6502a


    Nov 22, 2007
    Aalborg, Denmark
    My suggestion would be to move your home folder onto the HDD - cosmetically it look better in the sidebar if you move your home folder using the built-in options within System Preferences / Users & Groups.

    I did this on my Hackintosh where I had a 128GB SSD for boot and Applications and a 1TB HDD that acted as my home folder. On top of that I did have an extra drive for backup purposes but the setup never failed on me.

    I did just create a new folder called Documents etc on the 1TB drive for a while until I read that I could just move the entire home folder and have the OS work a little bit better when I didn't always had to scour around for the right place to put my files - plus I get the nice symbols for each entity in the sidebar of the Finder and such.

    That's just my take on it and what I would do it it were me who just did you did.
  11. xlii macrumors 68000


    Sep 19, 2006
    Millis, Massachusetts
    I've had my 2012 mini set up as a fusion drive for over a year and it has worked very well. Not one hiccup. The OS and stuff you use a lot will migrate to the SSD. The stuff you don't use often will be stored on the HDD. No need for you to micromanage or even give it a thought. The Operating System handles it for you.
  12. tominabox1 thread starter macrumors regular

    Dec 18, 2008
    Lots of suggestions for fusion drives - I want the maximum performance and as I understand it, the fusion drive setup is slower than using the SDD by itself - is this true?
  13. costabunny macrumors 68020


    May 15, 2008
    Weymouth, UK
    depends - for day to day stuff you would be using often accessed files and as such these would be on the SSD part. Same speed as SSD. its only bad if you move a lot of big files around on a regular basis.

    My only concern is that the fusion drive is a bit like having a striped RAID - if one disk fails, you can lose the lot. (AFAIK thats how it works).

    If you have a big enough SSD, use it as OS drive, and use some of the HDD to keep a backup of it - that way you can still use the system if the SSD fails and vice versa :)
  14. mvmanolov macrumors 6502a

    Aug 27, 2013
    Ditto on that. File management does not have to be hard with two drives just have a logical (to you) way to organize. and spotlight will do the rest when you forget...
  15. bingeciren macrumors 6502a


    Sep 6, 2011
    I experimented with all the available options to find out the best solution for the SSD + HDD combination for my Mini. I configured a DIY Fusion drive and used it extensively as opposed to using the SSD for OS X and HDD for data.

    In the end, after months of actual use, I decided to go back to the manual file management method as opposed to using Fusion.

    My rationale is simple: I prefer maximum performance and maximum control over the ease of use. Fusion is minimum control and maximum ease of use whereas manually configuring an SSD + HDD is maximum control and maximum performance at the expense of maximum ease.

    I use the SSD for OS X, programs and speed critical files such as the virtual machine files and the current video edits. Rather than relying on Fusion to shuffle the files back and forth, I keep the virtual machine files parmanently on the SSD because however infrequently I use a virtual machine, I know it will fire as quickly as possible from the SSD. Fusion on the other hand brings the virtual machine to the SSD after it is used at least once and depending on the space available, it may shuffle it back to the HDD if you use it infrequently.

    I found out that I can fit all OS X, programs and my Home folder on a measly 64 GB SSD. So, using a 120Gb SSD is plenty big to host speed critical files.

    All media files, pictures, iTunes library, iPhoto library, iMovie library, documents, downloads, Dropbox files etc can reside in the HDD with no impact on the overall speed. It is a waste to put those files on an SSD because they are mostly static and require no great speed. Hell, I even moved my iTunes library to a 64 Gb USB stick and as slow as it is, it makes no difference to the speed of the iTunes to play music or videos.

    In the end, Fusion is a little slower compared to the manual SSD + HDD but more convenient. If you want maximum speed and absolute control, Fusion is not the first choice however.

    Also, don't forget the fact that because of the background file shuffling (using Fusion) puts an extra read write cycles to the SSD. However, how much does that take away from the practical life of an SSD can be argued. You may end up retiring the SSD long before it actually wears out anyway.

    This was a long answer to your short question, but I hope you find it useful.
  16. mvmanolov macrumors 6502a

    Aug 27, 2013
    Ditto. couldn't have said it better meself. The only other thing i'd say is that if you use your mini as a server if your iTunes lib is on ht HD it may take a minute or to to start playing on another mac, (my experience) with the SSD its instantaneous. (minor annoyance indeed but given that i have more than enough SSD space for it i put it there)
  17. Deanster, Dec 3, 2013
    Last edited: Dec 3, 2013

    Deanster macrumors regular

    Jun 6, 2005
    So, I agree with your underlying concept of preferring control over convenience, and that's a rational choice if those are your priorities.

    My thought is that you'd need to be pretty dedicated to optimizing your file system to get the full benefit, though.

    Fusion doesn't slow down the SSD - you're still getting max read/write speeds for everything that goes on the SSD. The big difference is that most of what you're using ends up on there, and thus reading/writing at the SSD speed.

    When people talk about Fusion being slower than SSD, they mean that it nets out to being slower than a pure SSD setup of the same total capacity - but I'm not going to have a 4TB SSD rig anytime soon.

    By going manual you get control over what's on the SSD, which is theoretically good, but you're also guaranteeing that you'll be working off the much-slower HD *every* time you touch something there. By contrast, Fusion works hard to pull things you're touching to the SSD, so that you end up working off the SSD the vast majority of the time.

    I feel like I get about 90% of the total perceived speed that I have on an all-SSD MacBook Pro, but with 10x the storage capacity, at a very reasonable price. I think it's much faster than when I was running tiered storage with SSD and HD as separate entities. That probably worked out to about 50% as fast as an all-SSD machine - soooo much time waiting for the HD, every time I accessed a file there.

    Again, with Fusion once I access a file (either a large one or one I hadn't touched in months), all saves, subsequent opens, copies etc. are at SSD speed - this is where Fusion really pays off, IMHO. Dynamically ensuring that once you've touched something, you then get to work with it at SSD speed is THE primary benefit to my mind.

    Fusion is very good in my experience at keeping the things you are using on the SSD (though mine is 256Gigs, explicitly to leave plenty of room for my Parallels VM and other commonly-used items).

    Notable that Fusion keeps ~4 gigs of the SSD free as a write destination, so you'll always be writing to the SSD, unless it's over 4 gigs in a single process - then it'll start dumping things to the HD to clear more write room on the SSD. I've only pushed it into HD write territory a couple times since I rigged this setup.
  18. Deanster macrumors regular

    Jun 6, 2005
    My understanding for Fusion drives (someone please correct me if I'm mistaken) is that Core Storage keeps each drive independently - if the drive dies, whatever is written there is gone, but the other remains viable and accessible. It also doesn't wipe data from one drive until it's verified as safely ensconced on the other, so that a power outage or other failure during a background file-shuffle copy won't leave you jacked.

    I imagine it's a little patchy, though, as Fusion isn't respectful of folders, so you might find that you lost the most-recently used files in an otherwise safe folder - not sure if that's somehow worse than losing a traditional drive, but it might be for some people, I suppose.

    But we all have good backups, right?

    Fusion also is focused on logical volumes, rather than physical disks, so you can partition a large HD, and just use one chunk of it for Fusion, leaving a partition free for a bootable drive as you suggest.
  19. hudson1 macrumors 6502

    Jun 12, 2012
    This whole discussion reminds me of the activity and debate years ago around Apple's interest in ZFS. Was ZFS the source of some technologies in use by Apple with Fusion?
  20. wwohl macrumors regular

    May 2, 2013
    symboliclinker is a super easy utility to use. Its free, acts like shortcuts. Its how I manage files seamlessly in finder over three drives
  21. Fishrrman macrumors P6


    Feb 20, 2009
    [[ My understanding for Fusion drives (someone please correct me if I'm mistaken) is that Core Storage keeps each drive independently - if the drive dies, whatever is written there is gone, but the other remains viable and accessible. ]]

    I believe your "understanding" is wrong.

    With Core Storage (fusion), if one drive dies, the data on the other drive becomes inaccessible. The only options are to re-intialize "as a standalone drive", or to add a good "second drive" and "re-fuse" (but all the previous data will still be gone).

    The only option I can see for recovering data from "one side" of a failed fusion drive would be to:
    1. re-initialize the drive as a standalone drive
    2. apply data recovery software to it
    I'll _guess_ that files that existed entirely on the drive would be recoverable.
  22. johnnyindia macrumors member

    Jun 4, 2010
    i am looking to do the same thing (install a 240GB SSD as my main system drive and use the 1TB HD to store general files).

    Can someone point me to the definitive instructions on installing this SSD (Crucial M500) into a Mac Mini 2012 i7 2.3 Ghz (bought a refurb…coming on Friday).

    Do I need to remove the 1TB drive and switch locations with the SSD? I've heard conflicting reports about this step. I also bought the iFixiT kit. Will these instructions suffice?
  23. tominabox1 thread starter macrumors regular

    Dec 18, 2008
  24. FearThySelf macrumors newbie

    Dec 3, 2013
    Upstate NY
    I have to agree with the comments above. If you want to just set it and forget setup both as a Fusion drive. If you want maximum control then do SSD for OS and HDD for data storage.
  25. johnnyindia macrumors member

    Jun 4, 2010
    so i am installing the new SSD in the bottom position, even though i am using it as my main system/boot drive? I read somewhere that I should swap positions with the original drive. Which is it? Just want to make sure I get this right.


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