Managing External Hard Drives for Mini

Discussion in 'Mac mini' started by Howard54, Mar 28, 2011.

  1. Howard54 macrumors member

    Oct 16, 2009
    I began to slowly convert from a PC to a Mac Mini as my main desktop computer about a year ago. I have a late 2009 mini with a 320g hard drive.

    I am beginning to run out of hard drive space and I have never used Time Machine since my critical files are still on my PC. I want to convert completely to my Mac this year but I need some help with hard drive management. Do I need one external drive for Time Machine and another one (or more) for my other files beyond what is on the internal 320g drive? Do I need to connect all the external drives separately to the Mini or can they share a USB hub? Do external drives significantly reduce the Mini's performance? Would a USB hub reduce it even further?

    Does it make any sense to look at something like a Drobo? Can the multiple drives on the Drobo house both the Time Machine and other drives? Can a Drobo be used in a mixed environment on an ethernet network with Macs and PCs or do the drives have to be formatted for one or the other?

    Any suggestions as to how people manage their data and speed performance on their Mini would be appreciated. Thanks!
  2. lilsoccakid74 macrumors 6502

    Apr 13, 2010
    Hi, Im going to take a stab at these questions and see if i can help out at all until someone smarter can correct me :D

    I believe you can use one external for both time machine as well as for storage.

    I also believe that you would be able to use a hard drive hub, i believe with firewire800 the speed wouldnt seem too slow (If your using the stock mini drive like me, you know how slow it is to begin with).

    Im gunna leave the drobo talk to the smarter crowd.

    Hope that i may have helped a little!
  3. mr.steevo macrumors 65816


    Jul 21, 2004
    Having the Time Machine backup on the same drive as files is not a good idea. If you lose that drive to failure you have lost everything.

    My in-law's have a Time Machine drive attached to their Airport Extreme so as to allow for backup's of their iMac and Macbook wirelessly. In your case if you don't have an Airport Extreme then you could connect the Time Machine drive directly to the mini to create the initial back up and then to a USB hub for the ongoing incremental backups. The bulk of the data on your mini should be moved to an external firewire 800 drive (2TB or more) leaving only your OS and applications on the mini. If you need more storage you could daisy chain another firewire drive and expand that way.

    At least that is how I would do it.
  4. Undo Redo macrumors 6502

    Jan 22, 2009
    Colorado, USA
    USB drives require more processing power than do Firewire drives. So your everyday data should be on the internal SATA drive or an external Firewire drive, not on an USB drive.

    External Firewire drives are a bit more expensive than USB drives but worth it, IMO.

    Your Time Machine drive, after its initial backup, will usually only copy a small amount of data with each incremental backup, so you might consider USB, if necessary, for that drive.
  5. hfg macrumors 68040


    Dec 1, 2006
    Cedar Rapids, IA. USA
    The internal drive is much faster access than an external drive which has to go through a USB or FireWire port, so you want to have your working environment internal if possible. As mentioned, your backup should be on a separate drive, otherwise it is not a "backup" for drive failure, and your Time Machine backup drive should be about twice a large as your working drive to allow version-backups.

    I would probably replace your internal drive with a larger one based on your projected needs (500 or 640 GB would probably be a nice size). You could put your 320 in a external portable case for a laptop backup or just to keep a extra copy of your purchased music, photos, etc. Then get a 1 or 2 TB external FireWire 800 (if your mini supports it) drive for backup. Although Drobo drives are nice, they are expensive. A simple fan cooled enclosure with a quality drive would do as well, and you could DIY and save money.

    You can use a free copy program (Carbon Copy Cloner) to move your current drive over to the new one once you get the enclosure.

    But ... that's just what I would do .... :)


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