Mac Mini and external hard drive

Discussion in 'Mac mini' started by Mais78, Dec 3, 2014.

  1. Mais78 macrumors regular

    Dec 1, 2014
    Okay, so my first mac is on the way (2014 mid range, 2.6ghz 8GH RAM 1TB traditional HDD), as is a mini displayport to displayport to attach it to my external monitor.

    Next thing: migrate my photo archive (c. 500GB) from a PC formatted external hard drive for use with the mini.

    I have a few questions (sorry maybe too many...)

    1) Shall I put them on an external hard drive or use the internal? Which is faster? Will all those pics slow down the mini if i put them on the internal drive?

    2) Assuming I go for the external solution, shall I buy an external drive expressely for Mac or any drive will do (post reformatting?)? 2.5' or 3.5' for max performance?

    3) Some drives for Mac claim to be "Time Machine" ready. If I get a PC external hard drive i will not have that after I reformat for mac?

    4) The Seagate drives seem to offer a driver that makes them compatible also with Windows? does that work also with Yosemite?

    I have identified the following drives, any reccommendation?

    Thanks a lot!
  2. maflynn Moderator


    Staff Member

    May 3, 2009
    Compare the drive speed, many portable drives use 5600 drives, while there are some that are running at 7200.

    If you have a new Mac (and the budget), I'd get a thunderbolt drive, as that will give you the best performance.

    Portable drives usually opt for protection over speed, so keep that in mind when looking for an external drive.
  3. Mais78 thread starter macrumors regular

    Dec 1, 2014
    Thanks I could not find drives at 7200, would you point me to one?
    Also all thurderbolt drives I found are SSD?
  4. rigormortis, Dec 3, 2014
    Last edited: Dec 3, 2014

    rigormortis macrumors 68000


    Jun 11, 2009
    if you can't afford thunderbolt, get firewire ???

    keep stuff on internal hard disk. use external as time machine. if you feel its too slow, you can always move photos or stuff to external.

    keeping external drive for photos. i think that just asking for trouble , maybe your external drive will get lost. who knows

    any hard disk can be formatted by the mac. they just say they are PC because they come with PC utilities, like cloning your hard disk. however.. ssd drives should have native trim support in os x. or the drive won't last as long as i hear. the PC version of the SSD drive might only come with PC trim support.

    if you have a lot of pictures. consider a NAS. it will cost about $200 and you put 2 hard disks in it, and if they are really valuable pictures , the nas will copy the photos to both hard disks at the same time. this is called a "raid" if one drive fails you just swap it with a another drive and the nas unit will resync your hard drives.

    thunderbolt is a premium. its a pretty penny. giga bit eithernet will be cheaper

    thunderbolt is what 10 to 20 gigs per second . i don't think any of our computers are even capable of moving that much data at once from disk drives. its more for video or like external video cards.

    all hard disks are time machine ready you just need to format them

    however some older nas drives may no longer work with time machine, because the standard was revised a few years ago

    nas stands for network attached storage. some good models are the readynas 102 and 104. 2 is 2 bays and 4 is 4 bays

    a lot of people like the time capsule, apple sells it it is 2 tb or 3tb and it has its own wireless router. and the mac will back up to it over wifi.

    the time capsule costs 299 and 399 though

    if you pay of apple care then your time capsule wireless router is good for 3 year warranty or 5 years max if you bought one 2 years before our mac

    keep everything on the mac. use any external hard disk. who cares. to run a time machine. and that should be fine. and if your needs change, you can change out the external or explore your possibilities.

    2.5 " vs 3.5 " hmm. a lot of makers of external hard drive boxes think that every 2.5 " hard disk only uses 5v at 700 ma and they won't even make boxes that come with external power supplies. i hate that its really hard to find 2.5" enclosures with power supplies.

    at the same time its getting hard to find 3.5" enclosures as well. because everyone wants to use 2.5

    as far as that goes. i would just buy them on price. if you buy a 2.5" as a bare drive. make sure you read the label and know how much power it wants
  5. rctlr macrumors 6502a


    May 9, 2012
    I have a Seagate 3TB Backup Plus External Drive for under £100. It was "PC", but of course formatted to HFS for Mac use. Its USB3, and works a treat on my MM-2012.
    I have made two partitions: One 2.5TB for my iTunes Library, and the other for Time Machine.

    To answer your questions
    1) If you use your photos a lot, then internal is the best idea, and let time Machine back them up.

    2) Any external drive can be used for Mac, you just need to reformat it to HFS or FAT32. Formatting it to FAT32 would make it Windows compatible too, there are limitations here like files no larger than 4GB.

    3) When it says time machine ready, it means that it's formatted for mac use already, this gives the hard drive a premium, because they think mac users have money to burn.

    4) Im using Yosemite, and the driver is for reading and writing to NTFS formatted drives. See "2" for a cleaner solution.
  6. rigormortis macrumors 68000


    Jun 11, 2009
  7. scoobdriver macrumors member

    Aug 1, 2011
    A USB 3.0 Enclosure , with UASP support is very fast, and is what I am currently running my Fusion setup off (with an SSD) ( On exactly the same Mac Mini spec as you )
    As soon as I get round to it I will change this to an internal pcie blade type SSD ,
    For you use is speed really a factor?
    Time Machine can be set to any (correctly formatted) drive I believe..
  8. rigormortis macrumors 68000


    Jun 11, 2009
    usb in general is slow. it is client / peer. its really great that its cheap and standardized. but firewire is faster then usb. firewire does not require the hosts constant attention to copy stuff from one drive to the other. because firewire is peer to peer

    firewire puts out more power then usb 3 does.

    but firewire like thunderbolt is hard to find.

    firewire is almost dead. its sad. it depresses me more that firewire is as dead as ultra wide scsi

    i figure if you want to go thunderbolt it might be cheaper just to go firewire 800
  9. maflynn Moderator


    Staff Member

    May 3, 2009
    Its easy enough to buy a bare drive and an empty external drive case. Just look at, they're generally cheaper then buying an external drive anyways.
  10. rigormortis macrumors 68000


    Jun 11, 2009

    check the voltage. i have several seagate ST500LM0 drives. they are hybrid hard disks. they take a lot of power. more power then usb 3.0 to run and thats 5v @900 ma. which is like 100 ma less then it takes to charge an iPhone.

    they randomly stop spinning and beep and its not a beep that you get when the hard disk has the click of death its a different kind of beep like i am not spinning beep.

    i figure with any hard disk u should check the label before putting it in an enclosure

    i say a rule of thumb would be anything that is either hybrid or 7200 rpm should have its voltage label checked

    its getting harder and harder to find enclosures at the stores that have a power brick. you buy the wrong 2.5" and you will have to return it or go to amazon and buy a case from a manufactures that still makes them
  11. Mais78 thread starter macrumors regular

    Dec 1, 2014
    Thanks for all the answers, I understand thunderbolt makes sense only if you have an SSD drive, UBS 3.0 is plenty for a 5400/7200 drive.

    No risk I lose my pics using external drive, they are backed up on a second external drive and on my company server. It is really about workflow in Lightroom.

    So I did some more research in the meanwhile and have identified these two:

    1) G-Technology G-DRIVE Mobile 1TB USB 3.0 Portable Hard Drive 7200rpm

    2) Seagate Backup Plus Slim 1TB Portable External Hard Drive for Mac

    I think the first one is good because it is 7200rpm. Not sure about the speed of the second, can anyone confirm it is 5400rpm? I picked the second because it is compatible with both Mac and Windows via provided drivers (does it work well?).

    Any recommendation? thanks
  12. rigormortis macrumors 68000


    Jun 11, 2009
    another point i want to make is bare drives.

    this applies to mechanical and not ssd

    if you buy a hard disk in a retail box you get the actual warranty from seagate. or WD or whoever. that warranty is good for 3 to 5 years

    if you buy a bare drive to save money in an plastic bag, you get no help from the manufacturer. you get no manufacturer warranty at all. you have to take it back to the store. or just toss it and buy a new one


    go with seagate i never heard of g-tech


    i like this one

    it says it has hardware encryption

    i used fantom at once time. they just take regular off the shelf hard drives and put them in an enclosure. but they are usb 3 and 7200 rpm and cheap


    please keep refresh i keep editing and adding stuff to my posts heh

    umm. don't get the plastic enclosures. get aluminum. they help cool the drive down so it runs better.

    if you see 2 for the same price and u don't know which to get, always get the aluminum one
  13. TPadden, Dec 3, 2014
    Last edited: Dec 3, 2014

    TPadden macrumors 6502a

    Oct 28, 2010
    Not sure where you get this; every test I've seen has USB 3 (which the 2012/14 mini has) external drive much faster than FW800 (which only the 2012 mini has).

    "FireWire 800 was about half as fast as USB 3.0 in our write tests, turning in scores ranging from 55 MBps and 60 MBps. The read scores were faster, though at 72.3 MBps and 74.5 MBps, they were still considerably slower than USB 3.0."

    "FireWire 800 results were much faster than USB 2.0, but could not keep up with USB 3.0, which was always at least twice as fast as FireWire 800, and in the case of our 10GB file and Aja Write tests, USB 3.0 was three times as fast as FireWire 800."

    "And using a hub doesn’t impact speeds, even with other (and slower) peripherals attached. USB 3.0 is also faster than FireWire 800, and it stacks up favorably against Thunderbolt."

    "Where a Firewire 800 7200-rpm hard drive can deliver sequential transfer rate of around 90MB/s, USB 3.0 averages at 150MB/s."
  14. Cave Man macrumors 604

    Cave Man

    My experience is that photo libraries grow rapidly, so I think you're better off getting an external drive. My choice would be to (1) buy a 7200 rpm 3.5" (more GB/money) Hitachi bare SATA drive and (2) a USB3 external fanless enclosure. You then assemble these into a functional drive and initialize on the Mac. I never buy preassembled drives because if they fail during the warranty you cannot disassemble them without violating the warranty. Indeed, many are really difficult or impossible to disassemble without a high risk of breaking something.

    If you buy separate drive and enclosure and there's a failure, you can disassemble it to determine if it's really the drive that failed, or if it is the enclosure's controller that has failed. If the latter, you don't lose any of your data like you would if you sent it in, and in my experience enclosure controller boards fail more often than do Hitachi hard drives (I've never had a Hitachi drive fail).

    I never buy Western Digital or Seagate drives. They have a higher failure rate than do Hitachi or Samsung drives (even though they've been absorbed by WD and Seagate).

    This is not true for USB3.

    The warranties depend on many variables, including the nation in which it was bought. I once had a preassembled WD drive that had a 1 year warranty. It began acting up 11 months into the warranty. WD suggested I reinitialize the drive. I did and it seemed to behave fine for another 2 months, then it completely failed. WD would not replace it because it was 1 month out of warranty, even though it started having problems at 11 months. I had similar issues with Seagate and their notorious 1.5TB drives that had high catastrophic failure rates.
  15. Fishrrman macrumors G4

    Feb 20, 2009
    rigormortis wrote above:
    [[ usb in general is slow. it is client / peer.]]

    You are ABSOLUTELY WRONG with the above statements.

    USB3 changes the entire paradigm of "USB".
    It is both very fast (as fast or FASTER THAN thunderbolt for single attached drives), and it no longer makes the "client/peer" demands on the CPU that earlier implementations of USB once did.

    USB3 with UASP (USB Attached SCSI Protocol) relieves the CPU of controlling much of the data transfer, as did the earlier technology SCSI.
  16. TPadden macrumors 6502a

    Oct 28, 2010
    Not only that but he is recommending Firewire for a computer that doesn't even have that port/capability......:eek:

  17. Fishrrman macrumors G4

    Feb 20, 2009
    OP asks above:
    [[ 1) Shall I put them on an external hard drive or use the internal? Which is faster? Will all those pics slow down the mini if i put them on the internal drive? ]]

    500gb of photos is A LOT of photos.

    Once you are "moved to the Mac", you MUST store those pics in MORE THAN "one place". That means at least one backup, two (with one stored "off-site") would be better.

    Having written that, when accessing/viewing the pics, you probably wouldn't notice any difference at all between internal/external drives, for such tasks as opening files, editing files, saving files.

    If you really want to increase the speed of the Mini, you need an SSD for your OS and apps (NOT for storing 500gb of pic files). It can be installed either internally or externally. Externally is MUCH easier, much faster, same cost or actually cheaper. Also less problematic, as many posters in this forum have discovered -- AFTER they "thought they could do the job", then opened up the Mini and..... BROKE something inside.

    [[ 2) Assuming I go for the external solution, shall I buy an external drive expressely for Mac or any drive will do (post reformatting?)? 2.5' or 3.5' for max performance? ]]

    It makes NO difference -- NONE -- whether the drive you buy is "set up for Mac" or not.
    ANY drive can be easily re-initialized for use with the Mac.

    For an "external booter" (as I mentioned above), a 2.5" SSD in an external enclosure or USB3/SATA dock will work beautifully.

    For data storage, it's your choice.

    [[ 3) Some drives for Mac claim to be "Time Machine" ready. If I get a PC external hard drive i will not have that after I reformat for mac? ]]

    I would not recommend TM for backing up a "data only" drive. You can just as easily clone it over to another drive using either CarbonCopyCloner or SuperDuper.
    TM might be useful for keeping your boot drive "continuously backed up", because a boot drive has more things that are constantly changing on it.

    [[ 4) The Seagate drives seem to offer a driver that makes them compatible also with Windows? does that work also with Yosemite? ]]

    A word of warning (my opinion and mine only):
    If you have data that is important to you, I recommend that you DO NOT store it on a drive that is "cross-formatted". By cross-formatted, I mean in a format that is not "the Mac format" (HFS+, journaling enabled).
    I've seen numerous reports here from Mac users who kept stuff stored on cross-formatted drives (so that they could connect the drives to a PC as well as a Mac), and then, one day after connecting the drive to a PC, had "the Mac side" of the drive simply go "POOF!" -- and disappear on them.
    Again, keep your "Mac stuff" on a Mac-formatted drive.
    Use a SEPARATE, cross-formatted device (such as a USB flashdrive) to serve as a cross-platform device with which to move files from one platform to the other.
  18. Mais78 thread starter macrumors regular

    Dec 1, 2014
  19. TPadden macrumors 6502a

    Oct 28, 2010
    Yes it should work; but only you can determine if it will work for your purposes.

    I can only tell you what I did without messing with another internal drive tray and similar drives. I swapped the internal 1TB spinner with a Samsung 840 EVO but it was the 250GB model. I then put the internal 1TB spinner in an Inateck UASP USB 3 enclosure and use it as my external drive.

    I then "option" booted to the external drive, cloned it to the internal SSD, rebooted to the SSD and formatted the external spinner.

    It will involve open heart surgery, but was more scary than difficult to do for me (took about 30 minutes).
  20. Mais78 thread starter macrumors regular

    Dec 1, 2014
    Thanks so you didn't take advantage of the PCIe for your internal SSD right?
  21. TPadden macrumors 6502a

    Oct 28, 2010
    Right, it was a straight Sata drive swap ...... Personal preference, for the same price I'd go with a UASP enclosure vice adapter cable ....
  22. rigormortis, Dec 3, 2014
    Last edited: Dec 3, 2014

    rigormortis macrumors 68000


    Jun 11, 2009
    i was assuming that since firewire 400 tested faster then usb 2 480 that it was the same for fireiwre 800 vs usb 3, i don't use usb 3. i miss the ability of firewire and scsi drives being able to transfer across the bus without involving the host

    when i had my p4 running with its adaptec 29160 UW i had like 9 hard disks all in one big daisy chain.

    i wish other standards would make a come back.

    so if i was wrong about speeds. i don't care. i was mostly talking or remembering how much better firewire 400 was to usb 2.

    another problem with usb is that the connector is only rated for 1000ma.

    you can get around that connector limitation by not using all the pins

    i got that straight from the person who worked at amazon labs 126

    we are constantly pushing 2150 ma to our iPads using a connector thats not even rated for that power output.

    i have 2 hard drives. the are seagate st500lm0 drives. they exceed the power output of usb 3. usb 3 is only 900 ma. thats not enough to charge an iPad. when i hook up these drives to the common type of usb 2 or usb 3 enclosure they sell in stores, the hard disks don't even spin up. all they do is get hot to the touch and beep. its not a beep that you get if you have a click of death. its a hey i am not getting enough current beep.

    maybe some day "cash register" usb will take off and become more popular to compete with firewire's ability to send out 30 v @ 1.5 amps.

    the usb 2 standrd is only good for 500ma. usb 3 is 900 ma. anything made by apple since 2009 ( for sure ) is 1000ma to 2150 ma. thats just a special apple feature. you take your iPad to a windows pc, it probably can't even charge on their usb 3.0 port

    the average mac's usb 2 port puts out 4.3 times the power then the competitors usb 2.0 port

    they have thunderbolt adapters for firewire

    i was mostly talking about since someone wants to consider a thunderbolt enclosure, that they imight be able to find some middle ground and get a firewire one for less money. and firewire might do a better job of transferring content from one drive to another.

    i didn't really look at usb 3
    someone who is serious about photos and stuff would probaly not even use usb or firewire and would strictly get a nas with RAID and gigabit ethernet
  23. Meister Suspended


    Oct 10, 2013
    What benefits would a thunderbolt drive bring over usb3?
    Aren't those outrageously expensive?
  24. adamcarvell macrumors regular


    Dec 15, 2013
    warwickshire england
    sorry to jump on your thread but im also looking at external hard drive to save torrent files direct to one rather than the mac mini which im yet to buy as im thinking if in doing a lot of read write to the mac mini hard drive it might shorten its life hence thinking abut the external hard drive for that purpose ?.
  25. Cave Man macrumors 604

    Cave Man

    The limiting factor is the spinning hard drive, not the USB3 connection. I even installed the Yosemite DP on an external USB3/SSD and it was perfectly fine for booting and using Yosemite.

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