Is it still common practice to move home folder from boot SSD?

mazuma

macrumors member
Original poster
Mar 28, 2005
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0
I'm in the process of setting up my new old Mac Pro (2012 Mac Pro). I bought a 500 GB Samsung EVO SSD to use as my boot drive. I'm curious if it is still a best practice to point the home folder to another drive? It seems this was ideal due to price/size of drives a few years ago. We were buying smaller drives and they usually were just about right for the OS and apps. Now the prices are better and the size is increasing.

This mac won't have any iTunes media. I have another mac that I will be using for that. The only files I plan to keep on this system are current project files. The type of work I do is graphic/web design. So, the files would include large and small photoshop files to tiny web files. All archived work will be moved to my second system. Really only current working files, system OS and apps should occupy this drive.

I also plan to install a copy of windows to another SSD. This will probably be half the size of the Mac OS drive. So 256 GB. And, then a third drive for backup. But this may end up as an external drive. Haven't decided yet.

I'm really just wanting to know if it is still recommended to separate working files from the boot volume? I'd like to keep the speed of the SSD for everything. If moving the home folder is still recommended, should I get a smaller SSD for the OS? And, then make the current SSD for work files?
 

maflynn

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Staff member
May 3, 2009
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Boston
I also plan to install a copy of windows to another SSD.
It was never common practice or recommend to do this, at least by apple. Many people have Unix experience or other operating systems would do this, but the natural inclination was to leave the home folder on the boot volume.
 

cnstoll

macrumors 6502
Aug 29, 2010
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Pretty sure these days are over for most people. Sufficiently large enough SSDs have become cheap enough to not go through the hassle. That, and almost everyone I know uses a laptop, where that just isn't an option anyways.
 

velocityg4

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Dec 19, 2004
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Georgia
The only real reason for keeping working files on a separate drive was for speed. So that the OS and Apps aren't reading/writing to the hard drive while you are opening or saving large files.

This isn't really necessary with the SSD as the I/O performance is so high. You won't suffer from considerable latency caused by the heads changing on the hard drive. Which you would from the heads swapping back an forth from the OS and App files to your large data files.

I would keep the Windows and OS X on separate drives as two OS on one drive both accessing OS files and writing to their page files could have some noticeable impact on even an SSD's performance.

----------

Pretty sure these days are over for most people. Sufficiently large enough SSDs have become cheap enough to not go through the hassle. That, and almost everyone I know uses a laptop, where that just isn't an option anyways.
Up until recently you could have used an adapter for the optical bay. Some larger laptops even had RAID built in.
 

jasonvp

macrumors 6502a
Jun 29, 2007
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Northern VA
The only real reason for keeping working files on a separate drive was for speed. So that the OS and Apps aren't reading/writing to the hard drive while you are opening or saving large files.
The reason is more than just speed. It's about data retention during an OS update. Apple's OS X "upgrades" are just as bad as any other manufacturer's are when moving from 10.X to 10.Y. It's better to just reformat the entire drive and re-install your apps than it is to fight through the almost guaranteed bit-rot you'll experience if you upgrade.

With that, it makes more sense to have the home directory on another volume that doesn't get touched during the reformat. It prevents you from having to go through the time-intensive restore process from Time Machine or some other backup solution. Just re-mount the volume, add a soft link in / pointing the /Users directory to the mounted volume, and you're off and running.
 

Ravich

macrumors 6502a
Oct 20, 2009
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Portland, OR
I would keep the Windows and OS X on separate drives as two OS on one drive both accessing OS files and writing to their page files could have some noticeable impact on even an SSD's performance.
You mean accessing the files at completely different times has an effect on the SSD's performance?
 

jenzjen

macrumors 68000
Aug 20, 2010
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The reason is more than just speed. It's about data retention during an OS update. Apple's OS X "upgrades" are just as bad as any other manufacturer's are when moving from 10.X to 10.Y. It's better to just reformat the entire drive and re-install your apps than it is to fight through the almost guaranteed bit-rot you'll experience if you upgrade.

With that, it makes more sense to have the home directory on another volume that doesn't get touched during the reformat. It prevents you from having to go through the time-intensive restore process from Time Machine or some other backup solution. Just re-mount the volume, add a soft link in / pointing the /Users directory to the mounted volume, and you're off and running.
I do slightly the same - I do not move the home folder but redirect any data paths onto the 2nd SSD so when/if I re-install OS SSD, my data is still untouched.
 

theSeb

macrumors 604
Aug 10, 2010
6,963
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Poole, England
Moving the entire home folder to another slower external drive is a bad idea. Only move the "data" folders, if you must.

/Users/<user>/Library is one folder that you definitely want to keep on the faster drive.
 

Macsonic

macrumors 68000
Sep 6, 2009
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This mac won't have any iTunes media. I have another mac that I will be using for that. The only files I plan to keep on this system are current project files. The type of work I do is graphic/web design. So, the files would include large and small photoshop files to tiny web files. All archived work will be moved to my second system. Really only current working files, system OS and apps should occupy this drive.


I'm really just wanting to know if it is still recommended to separate working files from the boot volume? I'd like to keep the speed of the SSD for everything.
Yep I think it's good practice to have some free space on main boot drive and have your working files, project files on another separate HD. As far as I know leaving some free space on your main boot drive helps maximize performance. I also keep a clone of my main boot drive. Sometimes we do software updates or OSX updates and we encounter unforeseen glitches along the way. With the clone boot drive, we can easily revert back to the previous system. Though people have varied practices and some may not need to keep a clone boot drive. My photoshop scratch disk is pointed on another separate HD.
 

mcnallym

macrumors 6502a
Oct 28, 2008
716
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It was never common practice or recommend to do this, at least by apple. Many people have Unix experience or other operating systems would do this, but the natural inclination was to leave the home folder on the boot volume.
Seconded

http://www.macperformanceguide.com/SettingUp-Relocating-HomeDir.html

There is a good reason for NOT moving your home folder off the boot disk.

That doesn't mean it isn't a good idea to keep your data on the Boot Disk, however, as can be seen then keeping your Home Folder on the Boot Partition doesn't mean you can't store your data elsewhere.

On my mac mini 2009 I just have a 60Gb SSD, however is connected onto a DroboPro onto which I place all my data. iTune library. Email is all Web or Apples iCloud so if is lost isn't a problem.

I don't actually store any data that I want to keep on the 60Gb

My Mac Pro is set up as

Boot - Toshiba 256Gb SSD, - OSX, App's, Home Directory
Bootcamp / Lightroom - OCZ 512Gb Vector SSD Partitioned - Bootcamp Windows 7 and Lightroom Catalogue each 256Gb
FCP X - 2 x OCZ Vector 512Gb RAID0 - FCPX Library ( Working )
Storage- 4 x 1Tb Samsumg F3 in RAID0 - Bulk Storage Lightroom Libarary, FCP X Library ( Completed ) etc

I used to have FCP X split as two separate drives, 1 for Events and one for Projects, however with 10.1 and the Library Concept being introduced then have RAID0'ed the two into a single volume. Haven't really noticed a loss of perfromance for doing this
 
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Spinland

macrumors 6502
Jul 16, 2011
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1
Utica, NY, USA
Moving the entire home folder to another slower external drive is a bad idea. Only move the "data" folders, if you must.

/Users/<user>/Library is one folder that you definitely want to keep on the faster drive.
FWIW I only move Documents and Downloads, two folders prone to filling up and which usually don't need to be accessed all that quickly--but I move them to a second internal drive bay, not to an external drive.
 

Rich.Cohen

macrumors regular
Oct 28, 2013
193
3
Washington DC
On my Mac Pro 1,1 I installed an SSD about a year ago. I also have three internal HDD's. The SSD is my boot drive and has my home folder, but nearly all my working data is on one of the HDD's. I run VMware Fusion and that is on my SSD along with its virtual C drive. I only keep the most time critical data on the SSD. I also have a downloads folder on each of my HDD's and I normally set the Safari default download location to drive 2. That way downloads usually don't have to be copied between disks. This has worked well for me. My SSD is only about half full which means there is a lot of room for virtual memory pages.
 

theSeb

macrumors 604
Aug 10, 2010
6,963
91
Poole, England
FWIW I only move Documents and Downloads, two folders prone to filling up and which usually don't need to be accessed all that quickly--but I move them to a second internal drive bay, not to an external drive.
Good idea. I keep my entire iTunes library and movies on an external Thunderbolt drive and then use symbolic links.
 

sboerup

macrumors 6502
Mar 8, 2009
415
0
I have 500GB in my home folder. If I run backups (CCC or SuperDuper), I'd rather create a boot image that ONLY contains OSX and Apps, not all the other files. So I just make a partition on the boot drive to make the backups quicker, and if need be, the restore process quicker as well. Faster to restore 80GB than 580GB.
 

riggles

macrumors 6502
Dec 2, 2013
256
0
I would say you can leave it all on the boot SSD. I say this because it sounds like you have a whole 500GB SSD for your OS, apps, and project files. Since it's graphic design for the web, and only current projects at that, you'll just have unused space on the boot SSD that you've paid for, and those types of projects "generally" don't need any special scratch disk considerations.

I think a better question might be, "Do I leave the SSD in a drive bay, or put it in a PCI slot?"
 

velocityg4

macrumors 601
Dec 19, 2004
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1,524
Georgia
You mean accessing the files at completely different times has an effect on the SSD's performance?
No, when using something like Parallels. Since each OS is running at the same time. You get a performance hit. Which is quite noticeable on a Hard Drive. Not as much so on an SSD. I could see it being more significant though when working with multiple large PSD files.


The reason is more than just speed. It's about data retention during an OS update. Apple's OS X "upgrades" are just as bad as any other manufacturer's are when moving from 10.X to 10.Y. It's better to just reformat the entire drive and re-install your apps than it is to fight through the almost guaranteed bit-rot you'll experience if you upgrade.

With that, it makes more sense to have the home directory on another volume that doesn't get touched during the reformat. It prevents you from having to go through the time-intensive restore process from Time Machine or some other backup solution. Just re-mount the volume, add a soft link in / pointing the /Users directory to the mounted volume, and you're off and running.
I can see that. Although I used to do a clean install for every upgrade. I've found in the last few iterations of OS X this isn't really necessary to do anymore.
 

mazuma

macrumors member
Original poster
Mar 28, 2005
51
0
It look like its 50/50 on whether or not to keep the home folder where it is or move it. The macperformance guide is interesting. It seems like one thing I could do is just save project files to another drive and just let the home folder live as is. I'm not sure ill do that though. I have 500 GB and I don't think I've even used 100 of it yet. So, I have a lot of extra space.

I'm definitely going to use a separate drive for the win OS. No way I'm mixing those. I def use parallels and want to keep both running smoothly. I kinda wish you could install parallels to the win drive as well. I find I like parallels less and less. Ads, pop ups, performance etc.

Also, someone mentioned the better question is should I be placing the SSD in a PCI slot. I didn't think that would make that big a difference unless I'm read/write large files? My understanding is OS, apps and the type of files I work with really won't make a difference on the PCI. That is if you meant a PCIe card?
 

riggles

macrumors 6502
Dec 2, 2013
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0
Also, someone mentioned the better question is should I be placing the SSD in a PCI slot. I didn't think that would make that big a difference unless I'm read/write large files? My understanding is OS, apps and the type of files I work with really won't make a difference on the PCI. That is if you meant a PCIe card?
Yea, that's what I meant. Someone correct me if I'm wrong, but I think you'll get better read/write speeds keeping everything on one SSD but moving it to a PCI slot for a 6Gbps connection, than splitting up your boot and home folder into two 3Gbps SSD connections. I think it's the connection speed that will bottleneck first. And it seems that if they aren't large files, that even more reason to not bother with the custom home location. No?
 

handheldgames

macrumors 68000
Apr 4, 2009
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Pacific NW, USA
Isn't that why they invented Symbolic links? While booting from a SSD, I've pointed downloads, desktop, iPhoto, iTunes, etc to a different hard drive drives / partitions, I've never thought about moving the whole user folder to it's own SSD. A 1TB Samsung EVO could work nicely on a reduced data set.
 

calaverasgrande

macrumors 65816
Oct 18, 2010
1,291
161
Brooklyn, New York.
I've never bothered doing that with the home directory.
I leave that for all the stuff Apple wants to manage for me.
I keep my actual documents in folders I make on an external drive (or 2nd internal volume on the Macs that is is possible to do).
Usually one huge folder for pics, one huger folder of video, and a couple tiny folders full of hundreds of office docs.

I am not so much doing this because of fear of an apple update or "bit rot" whatever that is supposed to be. I'm mostly just reticent to put all my trust in one drive.

When my nMP arrives I'll certainly be picking up a NAS.

----------

I def use parallels and want to keep both running smoothly. I kinda wish you could install parallels to the win drive as well. I find I like parallels less and less. Ads, pop ups, performance etc.
I've been getting pretty good results with Oracles free Virtualbox.
The only gotcha I've run into is that it can be kind of fiddly about networks sometimes. Esp if you hibernate a laptop with it open.
 

Isamilis

macrumors 6502a
Apr 3, 2012
732
142
I did also separate partition for /Users for similar reason in my iMac. This machine are used by family (kids, wife, and parents), so potentially I need to reformat due to too much stuff installed / conflicting. However for my personal MacBook Air & Pro I leave it as is.

The reason is more than just speed. It's about data retention during an OS update. Apple's OS X "upgrades" are just as bad as any other manufacturer's are when moving from 10.X to 10.Y. It's better to just reformat the entire drive and re-install your apps than it is to fight through the almost guaranteed bit-rot you'll experience if you upgrade.

With that, it makes more sense to have the home directory on another volume that doesn't get touched during the reformat. It prevents you from having to go through the time-intensive restore process from Time Machine or some other backup solution. Just re-mount the volume, add a soft link in / pointing the /Users directory to the mounted volume, and you're off and running.
 

ActionableMango

macrumors G3
Sep 21, 2010
9,514
6,772
I did this split when I could only afford a small SSD. With a much larger SSD, I wouldn't bother to do it.
 
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