MBA owners , how do you handle small capacity?


macrumors 6502a
Original poster
Sep 14, 2007

I just wondered how the fellow mac user community deals with having MBA's with small capacitys such as 64/128 gb.

I am intrested in what people class as important and keep on drive, how much operating space they give and what do they keep of the main drive

I am intending on using a USB3 SSD, will this be enough to keep alot of day to day data of the main MBA SSD drive (128) (not ideal to carry about tho, so need to look at prioritys)
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macrumors 6502
Jul 17, 2012
I've got a Synology NAS on which I store all my media.

You've definitely for more options with the USB3 capability. I put my old 128GB SSD from my MBP into a USB3 caddy, it's ok on the MBP but flies on the MBA. If I wasn't running multiple VMs on both machines I could easily have got by on 128GB drives offloading my media.


macrumors 6502a
Jul 16, 2012
St. Louis, MO
First off, I don't need to have EVERY scrap of music, video, etc. on my MBA 100% of the time. I just don't need all of them.

Second, I bought a 500GB USB 3.0 hdd for storage.

If you keep only what's important, you'll find you have plenty of room.


macrumors newbie
Jul 18, 2012
I'm getting an air next week (I was going to get a pro, but changed my mind), and I'm inclined to get the 128 gb model (300 dolares for more 128 gb is way too much) but I have a question... Can I run VMs in an external usb 3.0 hdd? is the performance good?


macrumors 6502a
Jul 19, 2008
Taichung, Taiwan
I don't keep any music on it. I use google play for my music, which is free and amazing. Upload music you download/rip onto it, and it's there for you. All you need is some bandwidth.


macrumors 68040
Dec 30, 2009
I don't keep any pictures or music on the air at all, I have photo stream and iTunes match if I need to grab anything on the go.

I have most if not all of my documents in iCloud so they aren't taking up space.

I keep my Verizon MiFi 4G with the MBA so where I am 90% of the time I have 4G.

I also picked up a 64GB USB3 Flash drive to put any random other files or games I may want.

All of my main data at home is backed up on an external which is backed up on another external.

plucky duck

macrumors 6502a
Jan 5, 2012
I can fit my entire music library onto my ssd because it's relatively small, under 1GB. Pictures, no. Videos, no, not unless it's videos I need to work on then I'll transfer it onto the ssd.

I have the cloud as well as the home network should I need to access any media.

Having said that, I still have a 256GB ssd on my Air as I do enjoy using both OSX and Windows and the extra space offers more flexibility and options. I also have an external 240GB ssd on thunderbolt adapter for my mobile needs but rarely do I bring that with me.


macrumors 6502a
Feb 9, 2011
- I keep in my MBA the operating system, applications and work files.

- I keep in a small external 1gb USB 3.0 harddrive all the multi media files (which is what actually eats up your storage space): music, videos, photos, etc.

It works great.


macrumors 65816
Feb 24, 2003
We have to get over worrying about local storage capacity. Anything that can be shoved out to the cloud should be. Just getting iTunes up there has made the Air a far more compelling proposition for the majority of consumers. As everything else goes iCloud, we'll be looking for cheaper MacBooks with less SSD space, not expensive ones with more.


macrumors G5
Jul 29, 2011
Somewhere Back In The Long Ago
My MBA is my "FUn" machine. If I'm working on something in particular, I will stick it on the Air, but generally speaking most work related files reside on my iMac / MBP and are backed up to a TC as well as my R4 which I use for real-time edits.

Space on the 256GB drive has yet to become an issue, but it's not my main work tool. I guess over time it will become full, and I will just move things across. The bulk of the used storage is itunes related of course.


macrumors newbie
Jan 8, 2012
My MBA is purely for work - my whole folder of work documents is just under 3Gb - and having transferred all the data and programs that I need, am currently running at 97Gb free from the original 128Gb.

I´m a teacher, so my work folder does steadily increase in size as I make new worksheets, find new videos and accumulate past exam papers, but 97Gb will serve me right for many years to come!

Have an iMac at home to do all the heavy lifting, which shares my iTunes library around the house. I think as long as you know exactly what you are buying the laptop for, the relatively small storage capacity isn´t a problem.


Jan 10, 2012
I'm a software developer, IT guy, student, and somewhat of a gamer (if you call World of Warcraft a gamer). I have a full time software development job and I do IT work on the weekends.

My Macbook Air was a replacement for an aging Dell Latitude D830. I have about 400GB of videos, 30GB of music, 2GB of documents, and 30GB of pictures (hobbyist photographer). I use Dropbox as my "backup" and I have a custom built PC with a 3TB drive and endless 1TB drives that I get from my IT job that businesses "throw away."

I sync my documents and "notepad" files (text - to do, schedules, etc...) to my Macbook Air through Dropbox Selective Sync. And I can access anything else by going to

I use iTunes Match to make my 30 GB of music available to my Macbook Air without taking up any space on my Macbook Air. Periodically I have to delete the music that iTunes match downloads as I play it, but it rarely gets big.

I leave this on Dropbox since it's more of a "backup" item.

Same for videos except I don't put these on Dropbox, I keep them on an external 1TB drive and I have Apple TV/Direct TV at home for most of my video watching these days. Back when I was single I downloaded most of my movies from Amazon Video on Demand.

End result? I have a 128GB 2011 Macbook Air 13'. I have 101GB free (really). I use my Macbook Air for note taking, web browsing, financial stuff, IT work (RDP'ing to customer's computers through Cisco Anyconnect), communication (email, iMessage, Trillian for friends), but anything data intensive is on my Desktop. I spend most of my time on my Macbook Air throughout the day. When I get home I connect it to a monitor and use it out in the TV room.


macrumors 6502
Aug 14, 2012
In front of my Mac
As my Air is my secondary computer I don't bother keeping everything on it. I keep music, a load of other rubbish and some university stuff on it. Everything else is stored on my MacBook Pro and external hard drives (I have one for my Macs and one with files from my old peecees).


macrumors member
Jan 1, 2012
I have a 64gb mid 2011 MBA 11" and it is my main and only computer now, and I use no external drives at all.

I have totally gotten used to getting rid of music that sits dormant in iTunes for months on end, and if I have a change of heart I re-download it later, so normally hovering around the 1 to 2gb mark, I do not see the point of having a huge digital library of music that sits there unlistened to.

I dont store any films on my MBA, but my biggest area of storage is iPhoto which takes up about 13gb at the moment, and I like to keep roughly 20gb free as a rule of thumb.

its dead easy, at first i was paranoid about it but you quickly get used to functioning slightly differently and not being a digital hoarder!


macrumors 6502a
Oct 22, 2009
Québec, Canada
I use a ext small hard drive USB2 500 gig with my MBA. I have windows installed on the inboard SSD and I have plenty of space... I have installed WoW on my ext HD with all my music, video and photo. It's not hard to bring anywhere, since I can put it in my MBA sleeve without any trouble.

But yeah I use more online service when I'm at home, but with a small HD it's easy to bring all my stuff when I'm outside the grid.


macrumors regular
Aug 26, 2010
I have a 32GB sd card for all my music and pictures that are a neccesity. Otherwise since my MBA is my secondary computer, everything else is kept on my Mac Mini.


macrumors 65816
Jul 29, 2006
Learn to adapt.

If it's not my Air's 128GB, it's my 48GB Samsung Galaxy S3 or it's my 32GB new iPad LTE/BlackBerry PlayBook.

I have almost 2TB backed up but I have to deal with it. These are just for personal use but if it was for work I would get Western Digital's USB 3.0 My Passport and/or use Dropbox.


macrumors 6502a
Jul 19, 2008
Taichung, Taiwan
Also, beyond all the cloud options available, I'd look into the Nifty Minidrive. It's supposed to be available to the public in December, and I'm definitely buying one.


macrumors 6502a
Jul 1, 2010
I wouldn't be able to make do with a 128GB drive since I have a few VMs that I, I went with a 256GB. Just my W7 VM is a little over 32GB. Once you add in the few apps I have on my Mac, my other VMs, and the storage I want available for downloads, etc., there isn't a whole lot left over. I also use iTunes Match for my music, so there is almost no personal media on my Air.


macrumors regular
Jan 8, 2010
This is probably not the answer your looking for but I have my MacBook Air as my portable and then a Mac Pro at home for storing all my files.

On my MBA I have just my music collection which is around 15gigs and then my applications I need such as iWork, Adobe Creative Suite etc... I have around 80Gigs free.

I then have enough space for when I am out travelling and when I get home I transfer all the files over the network for storage.
That way the Air never gets to full.

I cheeper solution would be to build a cheep server with a celeron and put a 2tb HDD for storage in, or a used Mac Mini with external drives plugged in.

Another option would be to go for just an Air and a Lacie Little Big disk, you can then set that up in Raid 1 so you always have two copies of all your data and you have super fast storage at home!