Mac mini server 2011: which is the boot drive?

Discussion in 'Mac mini' started by doublep, Sep 6, 2011.

  1. doublep macrumors newbie

    Sep 3, 2011
    I have ordered a Mac mini server 2011, with 2 x 750 Gb drives. I plan to upgrade it to a self-installed SSD and keep just one 750 Gb drive in the machine (I'll use the second one in an external enclosure later). I want the new SSD to be the new boot drive.

    My question is the following: I am guessing that, by default, the boot drive with the Lion system pre-installed is actually the most-difficult-to-access drive in the mini. Do I have to switch this drive with the SSD? Or can I just put the SSD into the second, easier-to-access drive bay, install Lion on it and then select it as the boot drive later ?

    The SSD installation looks a bit difficult, so I'd like to kep things as simple as possible. If I can avoid changing two drives and just do one instead, I would be happy!:)
  2. mdgm macrumors 6502a

    Nov 2, 2010
    You can use either drive as the boot drive. I think the lower drive is the boot drive by default.

    If you have another Mac here's what I'd do:

    1. Before setting it up boot the Mac Mini into Target Disk Mode (press T on boot using a USB wired keyboard)
    2. Connect firewire cable or Thunderbolt cable (depending what other Mac has) between the new Mini and the older Mac.
    3. Use SuperDuper (all the features you need are free) to make an image of "Server HD". This way you can restore the Mini to how you got it from the factory
    4. Restore the image you created onto your new SSD.
  3. doublep thread starter macrumors newbie

    Sep 3, 2011
    Thanks for this advice. It's good to know that I can put the SSD as a boot drive in either drive slot. I will definitely use the method you suggest with the firewire target disk mode.
  4. Ruahrc macrumors 65816

    Jun 9, 2009
    On my mini server, the top drive (easiest one to access) was the one with the OS on it. I can't say if this is an absolute truth since mine was a custom BTO mini (2 x 750GB) but I pulled the top one out and connected it to a USB enclosure and it had all the OS contents on it. Will make upgrading it to an SSD very easy since I won't have to dig in deep to get to the bottom drive.

  5. doublep thread starter macrumors newbie

    Sep 3, 2011
    Excellent! I hope that will be the same for mine! Thanks.
  6. haef, Aug 25, 2012
    Last edited: Aug 25, 2012

    haef macrumors newbie

    Aug 25, 2012
    Here's the easy way! Open Disk Utility, select a disk (not a partition volume), and look at the info appearing at the bottom of the window. Especially the part where it says "Connection ID". There ya go! In my case it says either "Upper" or "Lower". There's also a field that tells you "Connection Type" to show internal or external and its type of connection. This is great when you've got a tower full of drives, and external drives, and you lose track of which is which. Not that I've ever done that, but I wish to help prepare others for such a reality. ;)

    In my 2011 2.0 mini server, the LOWER drive was the boot drive.

    IMPORTANT: Remember, you will be working on the machine UPSIDE DOWN, so the first drive you see is the lower one! It's actually quite easy to get to.

    If you are doing this surgery to put a SSD in as the boot drive, I'd take the time to put it in the upper bay. At least on my mid-2011 machine, it was really not that hard to get to. There are fewer cables to the motherboard and such compared to the early 2011-2010 machines. The lower bay will probably be the drive you'll be replacing someday before the upper one, so might as well make it the non-boot drive. Watch OWC's video on doing the work; just make sure you pick the correct video!

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