Mid 2011 27" iMac with External SSD

Discussion in 'iMac' started by lugesm, Jun 3, 2013.

  1. lugesm macrumors 6502a


    Sep 7, 2007
    I have a mid-2011 27" iMac, Core i7 @ 3.4Ghz, 16GB RAM,
    1TB Internal HDD.

    I use less than 200GB of storage, so I can use a much smaller primary drive.

    I connected a 256GB SSD with a Seagate Thunderbolt adapter and a Thunderbolt cable to my iMac and did the following:

    1. Did a SuperDuper backup of my 1TB HDD to the SSD
    2. Went into "System Preferences" and selected the SSD as the primary boot drive.
    3. Restarted the system.
    F A S T . . . . FAST
    Really pleased with the results.

    Now to the QUESTION. Have I missed anything? Are there hidden problems that I did not anticipate?

    I have a lot riding on this machine, so I cannot risk any kind of failure or DATA LOSS due to this reconfiguration.

    Would appreciate any advice and stories about anyone else having done this successfully.

    Thanks, L
  2. firedept macrumors 603


    Jul 8, 2011
    The only thing you might still consider is one more backup of your drives somewhere. Either in the clouds or on another external drive. HDD's fail and that will never change. I have two external backups of my drives so I never have to worry. Both are CCC clones so I can boot from either. One external I leave running and one I only turn on when backing up so as to not wear out the drive.
  3. lugesm thread starter macrumors 6502a


    Sep 7, 2007
    Thanks for the comments. Yes, I maintain two backups on external HDDs, when I remember to do it. :~)

    My real concern is for:
    1. Corruption of data that is not immediately observed and therefore not corrected by a backup.
    2. Loss of data, not immediately observed, and not corrected until it is too late.
    3. Is my system configuration with the external SSD sound? Am I missing anything ?
  4. flynz4 macrumors 68040

    Aug 9, 2009
    Portland, OR
    For your questions above:

    1&2: I suggest running a cloud based backup with deep (unlimited) versioning. Be careful. Some services delete your data 30 days after you delete it (and they have no way of knowing that the deletion was not inadvertent. I think that Crashplan+ is best.

    3: I suggest that you carefully tie down your SSD and all cables with the goal of making it "nearly impossible" to yank the wrong cord. Humans make stupid mistakes all the time. The most difficult end is the iMac. What I do is carefully wire tie the "permanent cables" together... and then secure the bundle to the iMac stand. There is no extra slack as the bundle of cables neatly plug into their respective holes. My permanent cables are: Power, GbE, TB to my Pegasus R4 array, TB to my ATD, USB to my UPS, USB to my ScanSnap Scanner. This leaves two USB connections on the iMac for temporary connections such as syncing devices, external drives, etc.

  5. lugesm thread starter macrumors 6502a


    Sep 7, 2007
    Interesting Item

    When I switched over to the external SSD as my primary drive I noted that my original external USB-connected Time Machine disk ran for a couple of hours. :confused:

    I'm sure there was a good reason.

    Any thoughts ?
  6. lugesm thread starter macrumors 6502a


    Sep 7, 2007
    FOLLOWUP . . . If anyone is interested.

    This thing worked better than I had hoped, and I am using an older Crucial 256GB SSD. I have ordered a 512GB Samsung 840 Pro that I will use instead of the Crucial 256GB. I am pushing the limits of the 256GB SSD. The Samsung will provide more expansion, and according to the reviews and specifications the Samsung 840 Pro is even faster than the Crucial SSD.

    Everything checks out and the machine is much faster at almost every task, even with the older Crucial 256GB SSD. When I boot, the gray Apple logo pops up in 12 seconds and the desktop pops open at 19 seconds.

    I can find nothing wrong with this configuration. Still holding my breath.
  7. norwaypianoman macrumors member

    Dec 16, 2008
    It is wonderful to read your "journey". I am considering to do the same.

    I am going to buy an External Thunderbolt 120 GB SSD as extension for my 2011 iMac with Intel Core i5 processor and 16 GB RAM. I want to use it for piano samples for my music production DAW, which will mean alot of simulatious reads of large files + reverbing, somebody talked about random 4k reads/writes and ssd?

    My plan is either:
    1. Using External Thunderbolt SSD as Boot disk on my iMac.
    2. Using External Thunderbolt SSD for My EastWest Pianos Samples (53 GB)
    3. Using External Thunderbolt SSD for Piano Samples AND Boot Disk. (15 GB? + 53 GB)

    My MAIN goal is to speed up piano samples. What is the best of these setups ?

    More general, what is the experiences with ?

    - A: Reading many large files on external ssd disk quickly ?
    - B: Running professional programs like Logic and Final Cut ?
    - C: Reasons to have use ssd as boot only or whether other programs affect the loadability ?
  8. lugesm thread starter macrumors 6502a


    Sep 7, 2007
    Norwaypianoman . . .

    Sadly, my final result was not good. I posted the following on another string.

    My computer: mid-2011 27" iMac, 1TB HDD, 16GB RAM, 3.4Ghz core i7.

    I configured a 512GB Samsung 840 Pro SSD with Seagate Thunderbolt adapter and 0.5M Apple Thunderbolt cable.
    Used SuperDuper to clone my internal HDD to the Samsung SSD.

    Everything worked perfectly . . . for 3 days. Then, my accounting program crashed while in use. This same program had been working just fine for 2 years on the internal 1TB original HDD without issue.

    Then, I noticed that my iTunes files had been corrupted and that about 80% of them were missing. Also, many duplicates turned up.

    That was enough for me. I removed the SSD/Thunderbolt external drive and went back to the internal 1TB HDD. Now everything works perfectly again.
    After removing the SSD, I was able to format it using Disk Utility, and it checks as good, using Disk Utility. I am guessing that there might be some intermittent flaw in the SSD, or my system just cannot handle the speed without error.

    Presumed this to be a defective Samsung SSD, and Amazon was good enough to accept the return. Great for that !

    Now I am gun shy.
  9. norwaypianoman macrumors member

    Dec 16, 2008
    Wow. That sounds really bad yes. You are the second that say "why do you want to boot". It is quite clear, it can be unstable. You can loose valuable data, like your loss.

    I think I will go for using external ssd as data only, meaning, using only samples there, that I already have a backup.

    And booting on my imac is really fine as it is.
  10. vtyler98 macrumors member

    Jul 27, 2011
    The problem isn't the SSD, rather that anything above 256gb needs to be driven by an external power source and not bus powered, including thunderbolt. Many threads on this forum about issues above 256gb, including the ones you mentioned of data corruption. Basically, as I understand it, the bus powered method does not provide enough power for a 512gb ssd. I guarantee if you switch to the crucial 256 you had that you wouldn't have those problems. Best of luck!

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