Mac mini 2012 storage upgrade

Discussion in 'Mac mini' started by TheNextChapter, Feb 21, 2017.

  1. TheNextChapter macrumors newbie

    TheNextChapter

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    Feb 21, 2017
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    The Tundra, USA
    #1
    I'm new here. I've got some learning to do. Any input would be appreciated.

    Here's what I've got. I have a 500gb Mac mini 2012 version. I have a 1tb time machine hooked up. I've not configured anything special. I use this Mac mini for photos of my family and web browsing. I have 25,000 photos on it and it's getting sluggish. I'd like to update to a SSD but I truly have no idea what the best thing to do is. An external desktop SSD? Internal SSD? I'd like to do a desktop SSD or multiple. Right now, I'm not even totally sure what the time machine does for me. I thought it was backing up my photos. But I cany find a folder with all my pictures on it. I'd like a reliable, speedy backup device of all my photos in tandem with the time machine.

    Thank you all.
     
  2. faded_glory macrumors member

    faded_glory

    Joined:
    Oct 13, 2016
    #2
    Are your pictures in the Pictures folder on your home folder?

    Unless you have explicitly excluded a location from Time Machine it should have backed everything up. When I click on Enter Time Machine from the menu (I found it helps to have the icon shown on the Task Bar) all my pictures are available to view.

    Upgrading the internal HD on a Mac mini is doable, there are step by step guides available on line but it's tricky and there's one step where it's possible to break a delicate wire that leaves the fans running at full speed permanently.
    https://www.ifixit.com/Guide/Mac+Mini+Late+2012+Hard+Drive+Replacement/11716

    I've never run a Mac from an external HD so can't really comment.
     
  3. Boyd01 macrumors 68040

    Boyd01

    Joined:
    Feb 21, 2012
    Location:
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    #3
    I setup a base 2012 Mini like yours for my daughter's family recently. I used a 500gb Samsung T3 external USB 3.0 SSD (they also make 1tB and 2TB versions of the same drive). It's very fast - write speed is about 400MB/sec as compared to 100MB/sec for the original 500gb internal Mini disk. I used Carbon Copy Cloner to clone the internal drive to the SSD, then selected the SSD as the startup drive in System Preferences.

    It made a huge difference in the overall feeling of the Mini. In my case, I erased the original internal drive and set it up as a Time Machine backup for the SSD, but for your usage you could use the internal drive for additional data storage if needed. You could then setup Time Machine to backup both the SSD and internal drive to your existing 1TB external drive.

    I considered installing an SSD inside the Mini, but that looks like a pain, and we have seen many, many threads here from people who thought they could do it but ended up damaging their Mini. ;)
     
  4. Richard8655 macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Mar 11, 2009
    Location:
    Chicago
    #4
    I'd highly recommend upgrading the 2012 with an an SSD. I've also never dealt with an external SSD, but sounds like that's a good solution per above post (but more expensive). Per first post, replacing the internal drive with an SSD for a late 2012 worked well for me. I installed a Samsung 850 EVO 1TB for about $240.

    I recently upgraded both 2009 and 2012 Mini internal drives with SSDs. The 2012 was more risky and difficult in my opinion. The 2009 seemed like a snap in comparison. Opposite of what I expected and as described at Mini upgrade help websites.
     
  5. Fishrrman macrumors G4

    Fishrrman

    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2009
    #5
    The fastest, easiest way is to buy a USB3 external SSD and just plug it in.

    You'll get read speeds around 430mbps and writes from 320mbps and "up" (depending on the make and capacity of the SSD). It will transform the Mini, and the price will be right, too.

    You might consider something like this:
    http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B00ZTRY532?tag=delt-20

    Put the OS, apps, and accounts on the SSD, but leave your "large libraries" (such as pics, music and movies) on the internal HDD. These are files that are usually just "sitting there", and can be accessed easily with no speed penalty when needed.

    DON'T BE CONCERNED ABOUT "TRIM" (the shouting is intentional).
    I've been booting and running my own 2012 Mini since January 2013 from an external SSD, and it runs as fast today as the day I first booted up that way. TRIM has NEVER been enabled, and it has made NO DIFFERENCE IN SPEED for me, ever.

    In fact my 2012 continues to run so well after four years of "external booting", that I see no need to replace it even if a very nice upgrade to the Mini is released later this year (although I might be tempted by full 4k video capabilities).

    You don't have to buy a high-capacity SSD, either.
    As I mentioned above, all you need is 480gb or even 240gb. Just the OS, apps, and basic accounts.
    The idea is to keep it running "lean, clean and mean" ... ;)
     
  6. now i see it macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Jan 2, 2002
    #6
    My recommendation is pay a mac repair shop to install a 500 GB Samsung 850 EVO SSD inside the mini and purchase another 2-4GB external drive to use as your storage device for all your pictures and video. Once you offload all your pics & vids to the external drive you'll have tons of room on the new SSD and it will never fill up.

    If you find that your time machine drive is getting too full, replace it with a larger one.

    A Time Machine drive is for backup, not storage. And the way that things are backed up is not intuitive. It's not like you can start digging around inside a time machine drive with the finder and retrieve easily what you're looking for.

    Once something is backed up with Time Machine, use TM to retrieve old files.
     
  7. TheNextChapter thread starter macrumors newbie

    TheNextChapter

    Joined:
    Feb 21, 2017
    Location:
    The Tundra, USA
    #7
    Your replies were very helpful. The closest Apple Store is 6 hours away but I might try and get a large external SSD and run the OS, apps and whatnot off that. I do, however, want to get all 25k pictures/videos off the mini just to be safe. Could I get a 2TB external SSD and load all the pictures/videos on there and still have the faster SSD run the OS and apps? We only have one account only my wife and I use it. Our children are 2 and 1 month. Very much appreciate the replies.
    --- Post Merged, Feb 22, 2017 ---
    I didn't realize how spendy the 2TB drive was. Would this 1TB be sufficient to put all my photos on and run the OS and apps?

    I'd like to then delete them off the Mini's HDD.

    Can my existing time machine back up both?

    What use should I have the empty 500gb internal serve?
    --- Post Merged, Feb 22, 2017 ---
    If that 1tb solution is sufficient. Can someone walk me through the set up process. I read that the drive might need to be formatted to Mac first? How does one configure all the settings to accomplish the aforementioned goals.
     

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  8. Boyd01, Feb 22, 2017
    Last edited: Feb 22, 2017

    Boyd01 macrumors 68040

    Boyd01

    Joined:
    Feb 21, 2012
    Location:
    New Jersey Pine Barrens
    #8
    Regarding internal vs external SSD's, I also have a 2012 quad core Mini server with the original Apple sm256e internal SSD. This is how it performs

    [​IMG]

    And this is the other Mini with the Samsung T3 500gb USB 3.0 external SSD

    [​IMG]

    The internal SSD is definitely faster, and that machine boots iin 15 seconds vs. 30 seconds to boot the Mini from the external SSD. But I am just not keen on installing an internal drive (although you can and should install more RAM yourself - that's easy). Unless you just hate the idea of having something connected to your Mini, I think an external makes a lot of sense.
    --- Post Merged, Feb 22, 2017 ---
    You have not told us how much space is being used by all your photos, so you need to determine that in order to know what size disk to buy. If they are currently fitting on the internal 500gb drive, then a 1TB external would probably be a good solution. The 2TB drive seems a bit pricey to me. I also have a 1TB Samsung T3 external that I use to store the current video project I'm working on. Performance is exactly the same as the 500gb version.

    I described the setup process above. Yes, you will need to format the T3 for the Mac, use Disk Utility for that, you will find it inside the Utilities folder in your Applications folder. Select the drive and choose Erase with the MacOS Extended format option.

    Before proceeding, make sure that your Time Machine backup is current - choose "Backup Now" from the dropdown menu in the Time Machine icon at the top of your screen.

    I used Carbon Copy Cloner, which I find very useful for a variety of things so I purchased the full version. Not sure, but I think the trial version will still do what you want for free: https://bombich.com

    Now since I'm a "belt and suspenders" guy, I would want yet another backup of the original Mini disk before doing anything else. You would need to purchase yet another drive for this, but if your data is important I would urge you to have two separate backups and I would not store them in the same place either.

    If you have another drive, use Carbon Copy to make a bootable clone to it. You will need to decide whether the cost of another drive justifies this, but you can get 1TB external drives like the WD MyPassport for $50 or $60 which IMO is money well spent.

    After doing all this, use Carbon Copy to make a bootable clone of the internal Mini Drive to the SSD. Then go to System Preferences > System > Starup Disk and choose the T3. Restart, and everthing should be exactly the same as before, but you will now be running from the SSD. When you are satisfied that everything works, you can use Disk Utility to erase the internal drive and then create whatever folders you want and store pictures or anything else there.

    Finally, use the dropdown Time Machine menu and choose "Open Time machine preferences". Make sure that you have selected both the SSD and internal 500GB drive for backup. Carbon copy can also be used for regular backups, as I mentioned above, and I would do this regularly with a separate disk (NOT the time machine disk). A bootable Carbon Copy Clone will behave exactly like the original drive, so you can immediately swap to it and continue working even if the orginal disk fails. With a Time Machine backup, you have to go through a restore process that can take awhile.

    The 3TB media drive on my iTunes server (also a mini) failed a few days ago after about 3 years of constant use - all it would do was go clickety-clack. ;) Just plugged in my Carbon Copy clone and I was up and running again in less than 5 minutes. Was really glad to have it, would have taken a long time to restore thousands of movies and songs from a Time Machine backup.
     
  9. TheNextChapter thread starter macrumors newbie

    TheNextChapter

    Joined:
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    #9

    Very helpful. Thank you. Currently the storage being taken up by my pictures is about 350gb but I intend to continue to add videos and pictures of our family. I think 500gb would be suffucient for the moment but not long term.

    I like the idea of multiple backups. If I understand you correctly. I should get the 1tb SSD and use that and then purchase a cheaper 1tb WD as my redundancy in case of emergency.

    Thank you for your thorough explanation.
     
  10. Boyd01 macrumors 68040

    Boyd01

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    New Jersey Pine Barrens
    #10
    Yes, that's the idea. However if you plan to use both a 1TB SSD plus the internal 500GB HD for your media, then you might think ahead a bit and get a cheap 2TB external disk as a secondary backup. But either way, the concept is the same - have at least two separate backups and keep them in different locations.
     
  11. TheNextChapter thread starter macrumors newbie

    TheNextChapter

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    Feb 21, 2017
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    The Tundra, USA
    #11
    Ok guys. For the sake of clarity and not buying something I don't need and making CERTAIN I understand everything you all have so graciously explained to me.

    After reading everything, here's my thought/plan for going forward. Please feel free to correct any of my thinking or process that isn't going to work.

    I have my 500gb Mac mini HDD.
    I have my 1tb time machine.
    Looking to buy a 250gb SSD.
    Looking to buy a 3tb HDD.

    I'll plug in the 3tb HDD and take everything from my mini HDD and copy it on the 3tb drive. That will be my safety net.

    I'll then plug in the 250gb SSD and go to disk utility and have that become what runs my OS and applications (from what I understood that will make my Mini very snappy/speedy).

    I'll leave all my photos/videos on the mini HDD as well as have the extra backup on the 3tb HDD. While the regular operations function off the SSD.

    Then I can set the time machine to backup the SSD and the Mini HDD regularly and do a manual backup to the 3tb HDD once a week or so.

    Does that all make sense? Do I have the process correct. Very large thank you to everyone weighing in. If all this works the way I want for $200 roughly, that would be great!
     

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  12. tibas92013 macrumors 6502

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    Location:
    Costa Rica
    #12
    Do you mean 1TB Apple Time Capsule??
     
  13. Boyd01 macrumors 68040

    Boyd01

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    Feb 21, 2012
    Location:
    New Jersey Pine Barrens
    #13
    It's not going to be quite that simple, since (from what you've said) the Mini's 500gb internal drive currently has more than 250gb on it. So you won't be able to simply clone that disk to the SSD (there won't be enough room). So I think you need to do something like this.

    1. Make sure the Time Machine backup to your existing 1TB drive is current, as discussed above.
    2. Clone the 500 GB internal drive to your new 3TB drive
    3. Delete all your photos from the internal 500gb drive (so that it will be small enough to fit the 250gb SSD).
    4. Clone the 500gb drive to the SSD
    5. Erase the internal 500gb drive
    6. Copy all your photos from the backup on the 3TB drive to the 500gb internal drive

    Then you should be able to move forward and in the future store the photos on the 500gb internal drive and use the SSD for everything else. Of course, the whole procedure would be easier if you got a 500gb SSD because you could just clone the internal drive directly to it. ;)
    --- Post Merged, Feb 22, 2017 ---
    Good question, I assumed he was talking about a 1TB external USB disk. I think the time capsule (at least the most recent one) only came in 2TB and 3TB sizes.
     
  14. TheNextChapter thread starter macrumors newbie

    TheNextChapter

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    #14

    My apologies, yes you're right. It's a 2tb time capsule. As I stated, I'm new to this.

    I was hoping for some confirmation that my process was correct other than calling a time capsule a time machine. Pretty close guys.
     
  15. Boyd01 macrumors 68040

    Boyd01

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    #15
    All right, then that is a different matter. The Time Capsule cannot be used in the same manner as an external USB disk. I also have a 2TB time capsule that I use in conjunction with external disks for backups. But I suppose it doesn't make a lot of difference in your case, it is still a backup device. If I have a disk failure, the Time Capsule would be my "last resort" for doing a restore, it is a really slow device and a restore of any significant amount of data would take a long time.
    --- Post Merged, Feb 22, 2017 ---
    I already explained what you needed to change in your process, I don't think I could be any more specific…

    1. Make sure the Time Machine backup to your existing 1TB drive is current, as discussed above.
    2. Clone the 500 GB internal drive to your new 3TB drive
    3. Delete all your photos from the internal 500gb drive (so that it will be small enough to fit the 250gb SSD).
    4. Clone the 500gb drive to the SSD
    5. Erase the internal 500gb drive
    6. Copy all your photos from the backup on the 3TB drive to the 500gb internal drive
     
  16. EnderBeta macrumors 6502

    EnderBeta

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    Aug 5, 2016
    #16
    Best Buy was able to do the internal hard drive install for me. If you don't have a fusion drive keep in mind you need to buy the data doubler kit to get the wires to connect the drive to the port on the computer.
     
  17. Celerondon macrumors 6502a

    Celerondon

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    #17

    To be clear OP, cloning a disk is quite different from copying the data over correct? :apple:
     
  18. campyguy macrumors 68040

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    Mar 21, 2014
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    Portland / Seattle
    #18
    OP, chiming in late here. I own several 2012 Mini Servers, that's not driving my input here. If you don't have a Server version, I'd stick with updating the single drive and investing in external storage. There's a long-standing issue with the 2012 Mini, and it's a crapshoot as to whether your unit is affected or not - my first two Minis were, and that's why they were returned and swapped for Mini Servers…

    You'll do a web search for "2012 mac mini slow hard drive sata i" or something like that and you'll find plenty of posts about "the drive was fast, until it wasn't…"

    Several months ago, I'm in this thread: https://forums.macrumors.com/threads/mac-mini-2012-second-drive-gets-slow.2006158/

    In that thread, I linked to: https://www.ifixit.com/Answers/View/276539/Second+Drive+Kit+=+Slow+Drive#answer276840

    My favorite SSD is the Samsung 850 Pro, as an OS drive it breaks the EVO's ankles (basketball metaphor :D). I have a 512GB SSD in my personal server, and I've compared it against the EVO - the latter is a fantastic drive, and I've got dozens installed in my company RAIDs. You may end up wasting time on installation of a drive whose speed may tank, unless you find a fixed SATA II drive for the upper bay. Cheers!
     
  19. TheNextChapter thread starter macrumors newbie

    TheNextChapter

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    #19
    Thank you. I very much appreciate the steps. I will be doing this in a couple weeks. Ordering the pieces tomorrow, business trip next week and I'll do the work when I get home.

    Thanks for everyone's input. Very helpful in understanding what I need to do.
     
  20. TheNextChapter thread starter macrumors newbie

    TheNextChapter

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    #20
    I got all the drives delivered sooner than expected. Backed up everything onto a 3tb seagate HDD and set that up with time machine. Then cloned my Mac Mini's HDD to my new Samsung T3 SSD and set that up as the new boot drive. Currently using the Mac HDD as media storage and keeping the 3tb drive as a redundant backup. Also using my 2tb time capsule.

    Thank you everyone who took the time to post. Everything came together wonderfully.

    Have a good week.
     

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