Mac mini 2012 SSD upgrade help and Time Machine setup

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by tennisproha, Dec 24, 2018.

  1. tennisproha macrumors 65816

    Jun 24, 2011
    I have a refurbished 2012 Mac mini 2.3 GHz Quad-core i7 with upgraded 16 GB DDR3 Crucial memory and a stock 1 TB HDD.

    I’ve been meaning to upgrade the HDD but never got to it. Realized last week that SSDs may be on sale now so trying to figure out how best to do this. I’ve read through some earlier posts but have a few more questions.

    I’ve only been using Macs for a few years now and haven’t gotten around to setting up a backup. So how should I best approach this? Is Time Machine the best way to go? If so, would it be a good idea to get a 1 TB SSD installed in the lower bay and use the existing 1 TB HDD in the upper bay as a Time Machine backup? I would use the SSD for system, storage, and apps. I would also like remote access to my Mac. Right now the mini is my main everyday desktop but in the future I probably want to use it as a HTPC once I get a MacBook.

    Regarding the SSD, what brands are better as far as pros and cons? I have Crucial memory so leaning towards them atm...

    On price, is this a good time to buy, or will prices go down more in the next few months?

    Lastly, I see all kinds of different advice and kits on how best to do the install. Is there a kit that works best and are kits even necessary?

    Thanks everyone and happy holidays.
  2. techwarrior macrumors 6502a


    Jul 30, 2009
    SSD, just about any make that you can get a good deal on is going to work. There may be subtle differences between brands and models, but for general use, the differences are not significant. Crucial SSD are always a good bet.

    In the tech world, prices always drop over time, or better options emerge at the same price point. You can choose to accept the fact, or you can kick yourself for buying too soon. Your choice, but if you need the performance, now is as good of a time as any, particularly with holiday sales.

    OWC ( has a data doubler kit that is kind of the gold standard for adding a 2nd HD to the Mini. They tend to sell most of their items on Amazon as well as their own site, and Amazon is often a bit cheaper.

    As for how to do it, if you are keeping the existing drive in the Mini and adding SSD, I would tend to use the macOS Disk Utility to "restore" the HDD image to the new SSD. Once the thing boots up to SSD, you can reformat the HDD and make it a Time Machine drive.

    As a safety measure, you could temporarily use a USB drive and do a TM backup, just in case something goes wrong.
  3. Santabean2000 macrumors 68000


    Nov 20, 2007
    My current setup is a 2012 mini with a 500GB Crucial SSD and a 2TB HDD in Fusion.

    I bought an OWC kit, but I know of others who have successfully used cheaper offerings from others.

    I'd recommend getting an external drive (of equal or bigger size) to create a clone of your current internal, (I use Carbon Copy Cloner). I also use another external drive (a NAS actually) for Time Machine.

    Clone the internal. Test the clone by booting into it. Download new macOS image. Install SSD (Crucial or Samsung). Open image, create Fusion. Boom.
  4. tennisproha thread starter macrumors 65816

    Jun 24, 2011
    I was actually going to use the ifixit kit but in looking into this it looks like the OWC kit might be better?

    I was planning on doing a fresh install. I don’t have a lot of data to migrate and I need to clean out my existing data anyway. I guess my only cercern is whether there are problems with setting up an internal Time Machine like this? I didn’t find a whole lot of people doing it this way on other threads but it makes a lot of sense to me.

    Some more questions below if you can answer them. Thanks.

    I really don’t want to do a Fusion drive. I’d rather just use a 1 TB SSD and back it up with the internal 1 TB HDD. I don’t have a whole lot of data atm so it’ll be a long while before I fill it up. Probably around 250 GB max right now including data I have on other externals that I want to migrate to the SSD.

    What is the point of Carbon Copy Cloner when I would already be setting up a Time Machine backup? I don’t understand this.
    --- Post Merged, Dec 25, 2018 ---
    Some other questions for you guys:

    What do I need to do as far as ESD discharge? Do I really need special equipment?

    Is enabling TRIM support necessary? I’ve read elsewhere that it can cause issues?

    For setting up the HDD as a Time Machine backup, I read elsewhere that using a drive like this in the upper bay can cause some sort of “low priority I/O” issue? If so, would it help to install the SSD in the upper bay and HDD in the lower? What’s ideal here as they don’t mention a solution.

    Lastly, what file systems should I be using for both of these drives? I read elsewhere to not use APFS and use HFS+ instead? What are the issues regarding both?
  5. jmiddel macrumors regular

    Mar 3, 2010
    Land of Enchantment
    Couple of years ago I simply took the Mini apart and installed a Samsung SSD where the hard drive was. The SSD had already been cloned from the HD, via CCC, and that was it. Do use APFS, it’s the future, why stay on an obsolete foundation!
  6. Santabean2000 macrumors 68000


    Nov 20, 2007
    Best to keep Time Machine separate to your mini. Inside only really makes sense on a laptop.

    Backups: x3 copies in at least 2 physical locations

    A clone is bootable; an exact copy. Time Machine better for recovering lost, corrupted or deleted files.

    Top/bottom makes no difference. Just make sure you tell the mini which is the startup disk in preferences after all is done.

    Don't worry about trim. You can safely ignore that.

    Def go with APFS.

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