Is 256GB of Flash Storage enough?

Discussion in 'iMac' started by kat.hayes, Oct 16, 2013.

  1. kat.hayes macrumors 6502a

    Oct 10, 2011
    I want to get a new iMac with Flash storage.
    I work with lots of large photo and video files, and am thinking of using external storage whether USB3 or TB to access these files. I will primarily use the built in Flash storage for the OS and applications, and for any files that get download to the Mac, and as a temp storage for files, etc.

    1. Is it a bad idea to only go with 256GB?
    2. How much of the 256GB needs to be freed up to keep the Mac running good? Does this work the same way with Flash storage as it does with Hard drives, where you need to keep a certain amount free?
    3. Based on my description of how I plan to use the iMac, can anyone give me any opinions of why it might be fine or why I should consider more space?

    Thank you.
  2. Bear macrumors G3

    Jul 23, 2002
    Sol III - Terra
    You should keep at least 10% of your system disk free for tempo files and swap space.

    As for 256GB or more: If you use Aperture or Lightroom, You would want to keep the library/catalog on the SSD with the photos on the external HD. This will speed up performance of those applications.

    If I was going to go with an internal SSD and external HD, I would probably opt for 512GB SSD, but it all depends on what applications you would have installed.
  3. propower macrumors 6502a

    Jul 23, 2010
    All depends on how you use the machine...

    For me ---

    itunes library is on NAS - 200GB
    Photo archive on NAS - 20G
    Movie archive is on NAS - 200G
    ProAudio archive on NAS - 400G
    Install disc archive on NAS - 100G

    But my system drive - usually less than 100G with all programs installed.

    USB3 SSDs for all in work files / pro audio sample libraries etc. These ext USB3 are 350 to 450MB/s (write/read)+ fast and not too dear in price. 1TB now for less than $600.

    So - in the end I went with 256G internal since it is going to be some scratch workspace but really just programs and OS - kind of wished I would of gone 512 though :)
  4. SteelBlueTJ, Oct 16, 2013
    Last edited: Oct 16, 2013

    SteelBlueTJ macrumors 6502

    Apr 2, 2012
    I also ordered mine with the 256gb SSD. It just depends on how much data and Apps you have. I am coming from a 64gb 11" MacBook Air so 256 internal is way more than I'll ever need for as long as I have the machine. I have about 30gb in OS and Apps. Then I use a 1TB external for my files and a 2TB external for time machine/clone backup. I thought about getting the 512 but just couldn't see spending another $300. I'd rather spend that $300 on 16gb ram and AppleCare.
  5. activate macrumors regular

    Dec 24, 2011
    Similarly, the 256gb ssd I ordered to maximise disk performance. My content is stored via wifi on my mac mini server usb disks. That will my method of access until about 12 months when I'm prepared to open the iMac up and add a larger ssd perhaps on the ata port depending upon prices of pcie ssds availability at the time.
  6. Santabean2000 macrumors 68000


    Nov 20, 2007
    Anandtech suggests 20-25% free to maintain optimal SSD performance. Doesn't leave much change ona 256GB.
  7. Chippy99 macrumors 6502a

    Apr 28, 2012
    My 256GB SSD has 64GB used and 185GB available. How much change do you want???

    And 22GB of the 64GB is a Windows 7 VM image. Without that I would be using less than 45GB and that's with all my programs installed (100+ apps including MS Office for example), some scratch files and downloads etc.

    Unless you want to be silly and start using SSD for storing things like your photos or itunes library, 256GB is *more* than enough!
  8. activate macrumors regular

    Dec 24, 2011
    And if you do want to be silly, theres a drive for that! - its called fusion :)
  9. yjchua95 macrumors 604

    Apr 23, 2011
    GVA, KUL, MEL (current), ZQN
    256GB will be sufficient, as long as you store space hogs in external storage. I BTO-ed my Haswell 21.5" iMac with i7, 16GB RAM and a 256GB SSD because the 512GB option would have burnt an even bigger hole in my wallet.

    I keep all my data in a Promise Pegasus R6 12TB Thunderbolt RAID (mainly photos, because each photo is usually over 30MB in size).
  10. Chippy99 macrumors 6502a

    Apr 28, 2012
    Fusion is an option. If you prefer your Mac to be really quiet though - and you also prefer to have your personal data stored safely not inside the iMac - then internal SSD and external TB or USB3 storage is the answer.
  11. stanw macrumors 6502a

    Aug 29, 2007
    1.) What do you mean by if "you also prefer to have your personal data stored safely not inside the iMac"

    2.) Can a 256GB SSD be swapped out for a 512GB SSD or larger one at a future time?
  12. alksion macrumors 68000


    Sep 10, 2010
    Los Angeles County
    1) I believe he means if there were a catastrophic internal hard drive failure then all of one's personal data would be untouched on the external. While this is true, an external (non redundant) can fail just as easily.

    2) Since it's PCIe based and not soldered, then the answer is yes. Be aware, it will cost you a pretty penny.
  13. richard13 macrumors 6502a

    Aug 1, 2008
    Mill Creek, WA
    Why is this silly? Some of us like to keep all their data in one place for numerous reasons. Personally, I think it's silly to have ugly wires and external hard drives hanging off an otherwise beautiful all in one computer! :)

    Why are you worried about keeping personal data on an internal SSD? It has no spinning disks or drive heads to crash. It is extremely unlikely to fail. Also, encrypting your data kinda of does away with any concerns that it would. ;)
  14. Chippy99, Oct 17, 2013
    Last edited: Oct 17, 2013

    Chippy99 macrumors 6502a

    Apr 28, 2012
    Ok, let me answer some questions and add some clarification.


    Q1. I agree it's a shame to spoil the lines of an all-in-one. Unfortunately, this is an unavoidable reality. You already have a power cable and a few USB devices at the very least. Many people have much more than that, and have plenty of cables and devices hanging off the iMac - I certainly do.

    And what about backups? Do you want to do them all wirelessly, which will take eons for a full (not incremental) backup?

    So an external disk drive - which you might install under the desk anyway - is really no big deal. It's just another cable hanging off the back.

    Q2. Why am I worried about keeping personal data on an internal SSD?

    Because it's internal, not because it's on SSD. Why does this matter? Well what if your iMac breaks completely - it won't power on at all. You call Apple and they decide to replace the machine for you. Now your personal data is on an SSD somewhere. You hope and pray that Apple's procedures are bullet -proof and they will definitely do a secure-erase of your SSD. But can you trust that? There are plenty of examples of customers picking up refurbs only to find someone else's data on it.

    Your other option is to rip your dead iMac apart to remove the SSD. But then you have invalidated your warranty!

    Yes you can encrypt stuff, but this introduces other issues. It's just a whole load less hassle to put your personal data on an external device that will never leave your home. There's really very little downside to this and there are many benefits. It's simple, fast, cheap, flexible, expandable, replaceable. It just works and is easily the best solution imho.

    Personally, I use a Freecom Quattro external USB3 drive. It's faster than the Apple 3TB internal drive and with the same black and silver styling, it even looks great too, sitting under the iMac.

    And then there's also the issue of SSD size. It's just fine to have a 256GB SSD for programs and a few important files and for temporary use. But what if you have a few TB of raw photos, videos and lossless (hi-res perhaps) audio. It's not fitting on any SSD any time soon anyway.
  15. LuckyDuck69 macrumors newbie

    Oct 16, 2013
  16. activate macrumors regular

    Dec 24, 2011
    Brilliant and thanks for reporting. I had planned to do this a year later but.. I am assuming the Samsung pro is installed on the SATA port. What is your config now.
  17. kat.hayes thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Oct 10, 2011
    If I could find a way to connect multiple bare bone hard drives and external drives at the same time, 256GB SSD should be no problem.

    What is the best way for doing this via USB3 or TB? Is there any single enclosure that I can keep multiple bare bone drive in at the same time and have them all mount at the same time on my desktop? At what point will my connection speed for TB or USB3 bottleneck?

    Thanks everyone for the replies!
  18. QuantumLo0p macrumors 6502a


    Apr 28, 2006
    I second that! As it turns out there really is not much discussion about 1TB+ ssd's because not many people care to duplicate their machine price when buying storage. I love the idea of the fusion drive. It definitely fills in the gap between ssd speed and hdd capacity.

    A tad tangent...
    Too bad my Mini can't use the new Asus ROG RAIDER pci ssd. I am going to buy one for my custom build. I am also very anxious to try out Asus' bundled hybrid drive software as well as their ramdrive software; early report are it's slick and easier to use than other 3rd party software. If OEMs could ship computers with a decent ramdrive setup, that would fill the current gap between ram speed and storage capacity. Someday we'll have unified memory for RAM and bet is Apple will be first to market.
  19. richard13, Oct 19, 2013
    Last edited: Oct 19, 2013

    richard13 macrumors 6502a

    Aug 1, 2008
    Mill Creek, WA
    Unavoidable reality? You really should put quotes around those words. Aside from the power cable, I have no permanent cables for USB devices coming off my computer. Most people I know who have an iMac don't either.

    No big deal for you. I get that.

    Regarding the need for lots of storage because you really have that much data, yea, you'd almost have to go external. If you do, fine.

    I just don't share your level of paranoia regarding edge cases such as these. An SSD will almost never fail and if it did there's ways to mitigate that. HDDs fail at rates that are much higher but even then odds are they won't. To me it's not worth ruining the AIO experience on something that is very unlikely to happen.

    Look, when you really get down to it, I don't think there's a right or wrong way to enjoy your iMac. If you want or need to have a bunch of cables, enclosures, devices hanging off your AIO computer go for it. But I think saying it's "silly" to use an iMac with an internal SSD to store one's data is a bit off.
  20. Chippy99 macrumors 6502a

    Apr 28, 2012
    Bloody hell it was only a throw away comment. You'd think I had fooked the Pope or something. You should sip a beer and chill out a bit mate.

    And apart from anything else, you still didn't get it. I know SSD's are reliable, but computers break. Often. With storage inside them. Inaccessible storage in the case of a iMac. It is not an "edge case" to consider that your iMac might break (failed PSU for example) and leave you unable to wipe any internal storage before sending it in for repair.
  21. richard13 macrumors 6502a

    Aug 1, 2008
    Mill Creek, WA
    If you want to point fingers as to who is beating a dead horse I'd suggest you look in the mirror. Did you happen to notice the smiley face and the wink in my initial reply? I was trying to keep this light hearted.

    I do "get it" that computers break. I also understand this is why you prefer to you handle your data the way you do. I'm not saying you are wrong. I'm asking that you maybe not be so flippant and scoffing at people for using their iMacs just as they are out of the box.
  22. Chippy99 macrumors 6502a

    Apr 28, 2012
    I don't think I was.
  23. ssmed macrumors 6502


    Sep 28, 2009
    Is 10% enough?

    I am not sure this is true if you use Time Machine. I would suggest a slightly larger figure is you are a TM user perhaps 15 or 20%.

    For instance, currently my 256GB drive has a finder value of 65GB free, but when I look at 'About this Mac – more info' there is 37.02 GB of backups so in fact there is only 28 GB free! very near the 10% limit.
  24. RoryO macrumors member

    Aug 24, 2013
    I am also trying to plan a good setup for an SSD iMac. (I just returned a 27" with 3TB Fusion Drive because of the noise of the HDD).

    I figure I need two separate external drives to have a proper backup, plus crash plan, which means DAS not NAS. So I was either going to buy 2 x cheap USB3 backup drives, or 1 x Western Digital Thunderbolt Duo, which can be configured to show as two separately mounted drives off one TB cable... only issue is the horrendous price of Thunderbolt... £379 for the Western Digital here in the UK (2x2TB HDD Model).....
  25. SteelBlueTJ macrumors 6502

    Apr 2, 2012
    I have a new iMac on order with the 256GB SSD. My plan is to have another external SSD mounted into a USB 3 enclosure for my files. External HDD's are just as noisy or even noisier than internal HDD's. I also have a 2TB external HDD with 2 partitions. One for time machine and the other for a bootable clone. I don't plan on having this drive on all the time. I always have time machine off and only run it it when I feel the need - probably like once a week or so. I don't work from my machine or have very many sensitive files so that's good enough for me.

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