How viable a external SSD for all-time use as secondary storage (developer)

mamcx

macrumors regular
Original poster
Mar 13, 2008
203
23
I have a iMac 2011 that need to be replaced. I'm a (solo) developer that work across all major platforms (ios, android, windows, linux, osx), and more critical , with many databases engines (sql server, postgresql, mysql, firebird, ...) and data processing for small bussiness in my country.

So, I truly need a decent amount of storage. And can't compromise on less than SSD. The mini 6 cores look almost perfect, but the cost for 1TB SSD is too high for me.

So, If I put the thunderbolt ports to work with a external drive, to be able to work ALL THE TIME as my secondary drive, where

- Internal SSD, OS - Main (osx) Apps
- External SSD, projects, database files, virtual machines, etc. Critical here, most of the IO (ie: File activity) will be in this disk

How viable (ie: STABLE) can this be expected? As good as have 2 internal ones?
 

killawat

macrumors 65816
Sep 11, 2014
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You'll be completely fine with using an external drive in this way. SSDs are great because you won't have lag especially with VMware fusion if you attempt to put the machine to sleep while you're still running VMs. Just make sure you get a decent enclosure that supports the newer standards, something like a USB-C , 10 Gbps, UASP etc.

I'm very partial to these units and have them in several varieties.
https://oyendigital.com/hard-drives/store/U31M-C25-BK.html

Everyone is freaking out about the cost of 1TB 2TB internal SSDs , 4TBs on the Mac but those options were never really designed for regular joes. Some people want and will pay for those options because their line of work requires it. If you're building an edit station, 2 TBs of the worlds fastest storage is worth the price. Otherwise, external solutions are the best case for practicality and price for most.

There are thunderbolt drives/enclosures available but the USB 3.1 enclosures are fine as well.
 

mamcx

macrumors regular
Original poster
Mar 13, 2008
203
23
Everyone is freaking out about the cost of 1TB 2TB internal SSDs , 4TBs on the Mac but those options were never really designed for regular joes.
Is great to have the most performant SSD that apple give, the thing is that also is good to just have more storage. I wish apple give the option of using regular SSDs for that case. So SPEED (boot) and LARGE (files). How things are, only the first case is covered.
 
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Fishrrman

macrumors Core
Feb 20, 2009
19,625
6,838
I've been booting and running my 2012 Mac Mini from an SSD mounted in a USB3/SATA dock for almost SIX YEARS now.

"Stability" has NEVER been a problem.
It runs as fast and smoothly today as when I took it out of the box in January 2013.
 

Stephen.R

macrumors 68030
Nov 2, 2018
2,554
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Thailand
External SSD, projects, database files, virtual machines, etc. Critical here, most of the IO (ie: File activity) will be in this disk
This is basically the setup I've moved to.

I was using a 2011 MBP and an ExpressCard SSD (original BTO was only with a 128GB SSD) for VMs.

I've recently upgraded to a 2018 MBP as a temporary machine (2011 kept eating fans) and will get the 'real' replacement, a BTO Mac Mini when theyre available to order here. As part of this planned move, I picked up a USB-C (3.1-gen2) enclosure and a WD 2.5" SSD. I keep *all* my work stuff on here now - cloned repos, active VMs, vagrant config + base boxes, etc.

My plan is, 95% of the time i work from home, and I'll use the Mini w/ nice big 4K displays and all my work is on the external SSD.

5% of the time, I work while away from home (either, extended traveling holiday and I work some of the time, or a shorter holiday and I need to be able to fix client issues in emergencies), so I'll take the MBP and the external SSD, and bob's your fathers brother.

Edit, to answer your specific question:

So far (a month or 6 weeks I guess?) I've had only one problem - the external case came with a USB C-to-A cable (5gbps) and a C-to-C cable (10gbps). The C-to-A works fine, the C-to-C I think is faulty, and causes the drive to disconnect randomly. I've ordered a new cable (different brand) to confirm, and then I'll ask for a replacement.
 

mamcx

macrumors regular
Original poster
Mar 13, 2008
203
23
Is great news to me. Which enclosure/cables are recommended for foolproof setup?
 

Stephen.R

macrumors 68030
Nov 2, 2018
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Thailand
Depends a bit on your budget and if you want to/are happy to DIY it.

I went the DIY route with http://www.oricothailand.com/store/orico_en/storage/enclosure2-5/dy251c3.html and a WD Blue 2.5" SSD.

If you're in the US, you probably have more choice for ready-to-go options than we have here.

Re: cables, aim for compatibility with the computer. If the drive supports (and can make use of the increased speeds of) USB 3.1 you'll probably want one with a "C" plug, the "A" ports on the Mac Mini are 3.0 only.
 

Stephen.R

macrumors 68030
Nov 2, 2018
2,554
2,989
Thailand
Definitely if TB3 drives are available (and within your budget) go for it. There are distinctly less options here.
 
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