Making a Mac with multiple logical drive partitions

Discussion in 'OS X El Capitan (10.11)' started by roadkill401, Oct 12, 2015.

  1. roadkill401 macrumors 6502


    Jan 11, 2015
    I have not had a mac for a very long time. It's been rather trying and I guess I bought with unrealistic expectations that things would simply just work and there would not be loads of issues that require constant re-installs.

    I came from a Windows world where there were drive letters and directory trees. I have worked in Linux where there is a directory structure, and though it is a bit more complex, I can get by. This Mac however seems to defy any logic to me as they have hidden everything under the veil for simplicity, so when something goes wrong there is no means to try and fix it.

    So I am looking to try and force to semblance of logic and function to my world of chaos. Put things into logical drives so the OS that seems to need to be re-installed every couple of weeks according to AppleCare, can be located in a different spot than my Apps, and my Library, and my Data.

    I have read here on countless threads about people with older Mac's and a hard drive, and someone suggests they put an SSD into their Mac and load the Apps onto it. Shy on details of how to pull this off. I have tried to ask AppleCare on how to do this and low and behold they don't support that sort of thing, and fall back to my problems are that my install of OSX must have had a glitch and simply re-install and then recover my files from TimeMachine. Either this OS must be flakier than pastry or something else fundamentally is not going right.

    Is there a Step By Step guide on how to move your App's folder and Library folder to a new logical drive? How about where your home folder resides? Or is it just as simple as creating a symbolic link (alias) pointing to the new logical drive volume where you want that folder to reside?

    For example, if I wanted to move my Applications folder to a new volume called MacApps I could use:

    ln -s "/Volumes/MacApps/Applications/" "Applications" from the root folder / on my OSX install disk?

    Q?> does the symbolic link (alias) replace the folder or is it put inside the folder?
    Q?> how does timemachine see these links? does it just backup the symbolic link or follow the link as if the files were local? Do you need to flag backup the new logical drive volume?

    I am trying to separate my data and OS from each other so that if/when it goes south I am not loosing everything or having to rebuild back after a TimeMachine restore.
  2. Fishrrman macrumors P6


    Feb 20, 2009
    OP wrote:
    "Is there a Step By Step guide on how to move your App's folder and Library folder to a new logical drive? How about where your home folder resides? Or is it just as simple as creating a symbolic link (alias) pointing to the new logical drive volume where you want that folder to reside?"

    You don't want to do this.
    Don't overly complicate things and "think too much".

    Your home folder should be on the same volume on which the OS and applications reside.
    It is -possible- to move it, but doing so can be fraught with problems.
    As someone who is coming to the Mac from another platform, again, you really don't want to do this.

    Just because your home folder has sub-folders within named "documents", "music", "movies", and "pictures" -- you DON'T have to use them for such storage.

    On the Mac, you can put your data files anywhere you wish.
    That includes on separate partitions created for such purposes.
    That is EXACTLY what I do myself.

    And I do it for the same reasons you mentioned above -- to "separate" the data from the OS for purposes of backup, restoration, etc.

    My advice for setting up your Mac:
    You might create several partitions:
    Boot - contains the OS, applications, home folder (but not much IN home folder)
    Main - contains most important data files (work, bank records, medical records, etc.)
    Music - music (of course)
    Media - photos, books, multimedia presentations, etc.
    Movies - movies (of course)
    General - everything else (copies of the OS installers and updaters, copies of apps, etc.)

    Doing it this way, I use CarbonCopyCloner to create "clones" of these partitions elsewhere. Sometimes the updating of my backups takes only a few seconds, as little actually changes between incremental backups.

    Some folks want "everything together".
    I don't. My way is easier for me.

    I believe the approach outlined above would work for you, as well.
  3. KALLT macrumors 601

    Sep 23, 2008
    I can’t really follow you here. So you want to do this because your system in malfunctioning and requires regular system installs? What kind of Mac do you have?
  4. MacUser2525 macrumors 68000


    Mar 17, 2007
    Open the located in the /Applications/Utilities folder type in then hit enter key ls -lR / see all the output scrolling by that is a directory tree structure same as any other OS.

    Find that hard to believe looks like your random messing about with an OS you have no clue about it is totally messing about your install on a regular basis such that you leave them no choice but to do a scorched earth re-install to fix the damage.

    PEBKAC is what it is called wackypedia link below explaining this state of affairs. To accomplish what you want here you install a SSD keeping the existing drive in the machine once this is done you format then install the OS onto the SSD using it for your boot drive then when you get to the point of saving a file it gets saved onto the spare old hard drive. This separates out your data from the drive the OS is installed upon thus if the OS ever needs to be re-installed you have your data safely on another drive so you can just wipe the SSD and start again with all data safely on the spare drive never touched by the process.

    Totally useless to separate the Apps and Library the Home folder can make sense. Though after your regular re-installs you seem prone to doing it will have to be re-created every time. The steps for moving Home are this copy the entire Users directory to separate partition once done open the system preferences go to Users & Groups right click on your user choose Advanced option. In the dialog that comes up Home Directory line set it to where you just moved/copied the Users directory to then reboot to confirm it worked. You would want to after confirmation remove the old Username directory in the /Users directory as I have found in the past when I did this that files will still be saved there if it still exists.

    Save the data to separate partition then you will not have to worry about losing it on your many re-install routine.
  5. mtasquared macrumors regular


    May 3, 2012
    I have my applications on an SSD and my home directory on a regular hard drive. I followed instructions like these, but I did not use the terminal to move files. I used Carbon Copy Cloner.

    It has been nothing but a world of benefits.

    I have a Mac Pro 2010 and Mountain Lion.

    I don't know how well these instructions will do on El Capitan, or other hardware. Backup your entire system before you even attempt something like this.
  6. roadkill401 thread starter macrumors 6502


    Jan 11, 2015
    I would say that my 5K iMac never really worked correctly from day 1, but after sending one of them back and the problems kept on happening, it was determined from Apple that it was something correctable by them via reloads. Well, I would say that after formatting and reloading this Mac over and over again 57 times, I have come to the conclusion that the OS is very fragile.

    It's not the same issue time and time again, but new things crop up and AppleCare solution to everything is not to figure out what is causing the problem but to wipe and reload. The latest issue is when the iMac goes into sleep mode for itself (with the sleep after 45 min setting), the Mac randomly locks up where the wireless bluetooth keyboard flicks in and out of discovered but you can't get past the password login screen as any keypress fills the password box with dots and there is no way to log in, or exit.

    Several weeks ago I ended up having to reload as safari decided as soon as it loaded (not even browsing a web site) to fill the screen with error warning messages and clearing the temp files from the library didn't help at all.

    I've had my Mac decide to not work with iMessage and Facetime for 3 weeks where Apple had me reload, wipe and reinstall multiple times with nothing getting it working. then suddenly it started functioning again for no reason.
  7. roadkill401 thread starter macrumors 6502


    Jan 11, 2015
    My wanting to move my data and items is in response to the OS just being so flaky. So far I have tried my best to just put my trust in Apple and do things the way that apple says is best and leave it all alone. But that doesn't seem to be working out for me.

    The latest issue with not being able to let the iMac go to sleep decided to creep in when i did the upgrade to El Capitan. that issue makes the computer rather useless to me as now the only way to use the machine is to basically turn it off. As you can't let it go to sleep it is rather useless.

    I shake me head at Apple, as they have no idea why this happened. On top of this issue, there are other apps that I use that don't seem to like El Cap. You have no way to know if software will work until you give it a try. But according to Apple, once you upgrade to a new OS, you are not allowed or supported if you want to go back.

    El Cap didn't work for me, so I rebooted into recovery mode and said to restore back to my backup at the start of the day in TimeMachine. I would have thought that as this is an actual Apple product they would support this. NOPE. But I did the restore without apples help. The issue with the iMac locking on the login screen after sleep has followed me, so I guess I will just have to do a total bare metal wipe and start again.

    It is not a big deal to put your own personal data onto a different drive or partition. What gets more tough for me is that I use iMessage to comunicate with the rest of the family. There is no way that I can figure to SAVE you imessage conversations and I have no idea as to where they are being stored. if I could re-locate that to a new non boot system drive, then if I did re-format then I can just remake the link and I am back to having my data.
  8. mikecwest macrumors 6502a


    Jul 7, 2013
    iMessages are stored here:


    That was easy google search... ( http://******.com/?q=where+does+imessage+store+messages )

    You really should not have to keep re-installing OS X. If you do have to so many times, then something is seriously wrong. I like the others think you you are doing things that are not normally, and maybe not doing them correctly. It is possible to do what you are trying to do, but the reasons you are doing them, are not the right reasons to do them.

    There are some that install an SSD into an older macbook into the optical drivebay, They try to re-locate caches and frequently changed documents into the non-ssd, to prevent excess wear on the SSD.
  9. mtasquared macrumors regular


    May 3, 2012
    Wow, that is a horrible story. I wouldn't be satisfied with that situation. Return the iMac again until you get one that works.
  10. roadkill401 thread starter macrumors 6502


    Jan 11, 2015
    Maybe you are right. But then again, it's not like apple ships their stuff with a manual to tells you how your are supposed to use their stuff.

    For example, I have a 16gb iPad and sometimes like to have a few songs on it to listen to. It doesn't have lots of space so it's not like I can fit my entire music library on the device. The only way to load stuff onto an iPad it seems it through iTunes. But I don't really want my entire music collection on my iMac as the speaker on it sucks and I don't listen to music while working on it. With iTunes for Windows, I can plug in my iPad and simply drag an .mp3 file onto the iPad icon and it will allow me to manually add songs directly onto the iPad. Everything works fine. However on the mac I am told by apple that this isn't the way it was designed and you MUST add the songs onto the iTunes on the Mac and then sync them onto the iPad. So much for the design idea that Steve Jobs came up with of you simply drag and drop stuff on the Mac.

    I use my iMac to run some VM's that works just fine. I surf the internet and read my mail. I needed iMessage and Facetime to stay in touch with my family. I watch NetFlix sometimes. I use Photoshop CS6 to edit my photos and really bought the 5K iMac as it had a kick'n screen.

    I didn't think I was doing so much wrong but I guess that I clicked the Install OS X El wrong and that caused it to bugger up. I guess maybe it's punishing me as I use an Andriod phone and don't have an iPhone so my mac gets jealous that google is getting more of my attention :( .

    I am just trying to make a bad thing better. I know that I can resize the partition on my iMac to make the Macintosh HD partition smaller and put a second one there to give El Capitan another try, but I don't want to mess up my recovery partition as apple seems to want to force a newer version with every new release that messes you up if things goes wrong.
  11. simonsi macrumors 601


    Jan 3, 2014
    Apple support will always limit the nature of their support to a re-install. That doesn't mean that the issue you call them with actually <needs> a full install but if you ring up with a hard to describe, weird stuff happening scenario then they are quite likely to get you to re-install as that is the quickest way of getting you back up and running.

    So if you have an issue like where are iMessages kept, it might be easier to research yourself as above. The OS is not as flakey as you describe so there is either something you are installing after every wipe that reintroduces instability or your moving stuff around is introducing it, or you possibly have a hardware issue (unlikely from what you describe). Permissions issues are easy to introduce if you move stuff around with abandon.
  12. KALLT macrumors 601

    Sep 23, 2008
    Do you have one of these Fusion drives? I’ve heard horror stories on those. I think the problem with the newer iMacs is that they are not easily upgradeable and getting the hard drive replaced with a different kind of drive is something Apple asks a lot of money for.
  13. NoBoMac, Oct 13, 2015
    Last edited: Oct 13, 2015

    NoBoMac macrumors 68020


    Jul 1, 2014
    To be fair, Microsoft and just about any other consumer software company will pull out the old uninstall and reinstall "solution". Too much going on, assuming not whole story coming from user, not much training for front-line support, so...

    If it were me, I'd avoid the whole trying to do an Apple version of "C:", "D:", etc. For now. See if the system runs properly out of the box. Once that's working, then you can try playing around with re-partitioning things.

    But even then, as others have mentioned, probably not a great idea. Moving all of applications really doesn't buy anything, since lots of Apple stuff in there as well as anything one has installed. Maybe better to put user installed apps into a different partition.

    In the case of both Applications and Users, can always run into the odd program, file that has a reference to itself and or component of itself that has non-relative pathname references. Or something that has setuid set on a binary. Along same lines, as someone else mentioned, permissions might have got hosed by moving things around.

    And: do you know the validity/soundness of any backups that are being used to restore things? Basically, if you are restoring a backup that has something "corrupt", the problems could very well keep showing up. Hence, back to the "pure" OS X state. Yes, restore data, but don't pull settings from the backup (~/Library, /Library). Yes, pain to get the settings/preferences back, but, might help track down what's going on. Ditto user installed apps: might have an app that does not play well with El Capitan.

    ADD: the new SIP functions might also be making life hard to move things out of their usual places (Makes some sense. For example, can see anything moving from /Applications to some other locale might be "suspicious": malware trying to replace a standard app with its evil version).

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12 October 12, 2015