Mini Hard Drive full - Need Advice (HELP!)

Discussion in 'Mac mini' started by deep808blue, Jun 7, 2010.

  1. deep808blue macrumors newbie

    Feb 10, 2010
    Hello there!

    I've been in love with my Mac mini since I bought it last December, but recently I've hit the upper limit of the internal 160GB hard drive, with only 5GB free space remaining. I've got 2 1TB external hard drives, one of which I use as a Time Machine backup drive. Instead of the very laborious process of clearing space on the internal drive, I thought I could use Disk Utility to create a concantated disk set to "extend" the logical capacity of the internal hard disk and attaching one of my external USB hard disks so I wouldnt have to re-arrange the file structure extensively and/or pick and choose files to delete to create usable space on the small-ish internal drive.

    Unfortunately, I'm having difficulty establishing a JBOD RAID array with Disk Utility. Strangely, my mac mini has a RAID utility program preinstalled, but it generates an error message saying its not supported on this computer. I'd like to create a dedicated 500GB partition on my Mac OS Extended (journaled) formatted USB Hitachi 1TB drive to increase the storage capacity of the internal 160GB drive without having to delete anything at all.

    I opened Disk Utility, selected RAID from the "Macintosh HD" (internal drive) and then dragged the external USB hard drive into the RAID: Macintosh HD window that was created. An icon appeared in the large box entitled "new member: disk2s2" and the instructions say to enable the (external 1TB disk) disk as a "degraded RAID set" or click on the new disk2s2 icon and click the "enable" button to enable a new RAID set. Since I'm using about 200GB of the 1TB disk already as my Time Machine backup, I absolutely dont want to risk losing the data there by enabling (or later disabling) RAID for that disk, and I'm unclear as to what may happen (irreversible changes) if I select "enable".

    Alternatively, I could format my yet-unused second 1TB drive and use it in this way rather than risk trying to establish a 500GB concantated partition on the external drive that has 200GB used for my Time Machine backup. I dont want to risk losing any of my files or TIme Machine backup data

    I would also like to establish a sizable Boot Camp partition on the external drive, which I havent got around to doing yet.

    I also have an older model Lacie 300GB drive with FireWire 800 ports on it, which has backup files from my 2006 MacBook Pro 17 (long since gone). Maybe a silly question, but is there a significant data throughput speed advantage in using that FIreWire 800 interface with the older drive or should I stick with the newer (dec 2009) 7200rpm Hitatchi 1TB drive with USB 2.0 only interface?

    Also, how feasible is it to open the mini and upgrade the existing drive with a larger capacity drive? I was also considering buying a server-version of the Mac Mini and networking the 2 computers, or perhaps a 27" i7 iMac

    I am DESPERATE for quality technical advice on these issues. PLEASE help me and post your replies here on this thread. Many, many thanks in advance for your help, time, and consideration.

    Kind Regards,

    Steve R (Mac Fanatic) :)
  2. ReggaeFire macrumors 6502

    Mar 19, 2003
    Honestly you do not want to be creating a RAID with one internal and one external drive, especially for your boot volume. Opening up a mini and replacing the hard drive is actually quite simple. It can be daunting when you first stick in the putty knife and start bending to release the clips, but it doesn't harm the case and takes only a couple minutes to get to the drive and swap it out. Much less time than you've already spent trying to cobble together a RAID solution. Replacing the drive is cheap, quick, and easy.
  3. Philscbx macrumors regular


    Jan 4, 2007
    Mpls Mn
    There may be more skilled ways to handle it, but I wouldn't touch the time machine drive.
    A friend last week did, with all photo's, videos, etc and it got wiped by some fluke.

    He took it to Geek Squad.
    $500 later he has files back.

    Drives are so cheap, just get 2 matching drives and make it easy.
  4. talmy macrumors 601


    Oct 26, 2009
    Add an external drive, move the contents of your largest folder to that drive, and then use an alias (soft link) to make it appear as though it is still on your main drive. For instance, if your problem is with your Movies folder, copy the folder to the external drive, delete the folder on your internal drive, and then create an alias by dragging the folder back to your internal drive with the option and command keys depressed (there will be a curved arrow in the icon if you are successful).

    As an alternative, open your mini's case and install a bigger hard drive and clone everything back to your new drive. Instructions are easy to find on the Internet.

    Don't buy a new computer to solve this problem.
  5. deep808blue thread starter macrumors newbie

    Feb 10, 2010
    Thanks A Million!


    Overwhelming gratitude to those of you who responded so rapidly to my cry for help! :D:D:D

    Great advice from all of you, I'm SO very grateful for your time and assistance! Given the consensus here, I'm going to upgrade the internal drive with a larger/faster model.

    Just this morning, a friend of mine sold me a nifty little package. He was going to use it to upgrade his Windows desktop machine but got a new PC instead. A new unformatted 10,000rpm Western Digital 300GB Velociraptor drive and an outboard (external) 2-hard drive hot swappable docking station from Thermaltake called the BlackXDuet. It has 2 3.5" hard drive bays and a USB 2.0 and eSATA interface ports on the rear.

    I REALLY wish the Mini had an eSATA port, because my intuition suggests the raw performance potential of the Velociraptor is going to be severely limited (bottlenecked) by using it with the external docking station and the USb 2.0 interface. (480 Mbits/sec max IIRC).

    I've read the other posts here on this forum about opening up the Mini, generally saying how easy it is, but for me its going to take a while to work up the nerve to get a spatula and pry the thing open (yikes! :eek:)

    For immediacies sake I'm going to use the external docking station for now and try and summon the courage to hack into the case later. I presume the internal hard drive is using a SATA interface, anybody know offhand what the maximum speed (throughput) of the Mac Mini's internal SATA interface is?

    Philscbx, point very well taken. I absolutely DONT want to risk anything happening to my Time Machine drive.

    To correct a misunderstanding, I mentioned buying a Mac Mini server or i7 27" iMac to have another computer to use, not specifically to address the lack of space issue with my beloved Mini. Actually, I've been saving my money and holding out to buy a full-on Mac Pro, but I'm turning blue holding my breath for the major refresh (dual hexacore Xeons) that I fully expected to happen in April.... still rumored to be LATE June (arrrrrgh! :confused::()

    Its SO very frustrating to see the time ordered Buyers Guide, the time interval since major updates is HUGE on the vast majority of Macs, seems the ONLY model that gets a green light is the MacBook Pro. I'm game for a optioned out 17" MBP, with one MAJOR reservation... Spec-wise and in person, the 17" i7 MBP is everything I want and need in a desktop replacement notebook, but in my humble opinion is severely crippled by the ergos of its Chicklet-key keyboard. LOVE the backlit feature, but the keys and keyboard feel are nightmarishly bad for me. Such a huge disappointment for me, because I love everything else about it. Oh, well.

    Back on topic, can anybody suggest specifics on cloning the internal boot drive to this new WD drive I have? Any recommendations on high quality third party software to get the job done with minimum time, maximum safety (close to zero risk of losing any files or data)?

    Again, many thanks in advance to anyone who posts replies here. I very sincerely appreciate the help. :):):)

    Kind Regards,

  6. ReggaeFire macrumors 6502

    Mar 19, 2003
    I use SuperDuper! to clone drives. Never had an issue. I used to use Carbon Copy Cloner, but in the last couple years it has failed to properly create a bootable copy a few times, so I stick to SD now. It's free for cloning (you can pay to unlock various disk backup features), and with only 160 gb to copy it shouldn't take that long, even over USB.
  7. deep808blue thread starter macrumors newbie

    Feb 10, 2010
    Cheers !!!

    CHEERS TO YOU ReggaeFire and Shirt Pocket [the authors of SuperDuper!]!!! :D

    Problems solved! A HUGE unsolicited endorsement of the quality and performance of SuperDuper!, another very unexpected (and timely) great suprise!

    Out of most shareware items I've downloaded in the past, I'd say more than half of them turn out to be disappointing in some way, either glitchy, suffering from a limited (or downright unfriendly) user interface, lackluster performance (not as advertised or made to appear), too simplistic (or too technical), or suffer from "cripple-ware" limitations in their trial versions. Many frustrations and heavy sighs, wasted time and effort. Thats the nature of the beast with third party software, there's some highly polished "junk" programs out there and some genuine diamonds in the rough, VERY well designed and executed software that exceeds most of my expectations.

    I'm very happy to report that SuperDuper! is a member of the rare latter group.... on a scale of one to ten, SD ranks a perfect 10 on my personal scale. For something as mission critical as backup/restore software, its ever so important to find an excellent and reliable program to get the job done, and SD sets the bar the highest I've yet seen in data backup and recovery. Not to mention its brilliant user interface, making it very easy to use for the novice yet feature packed for the most expert users out there. It also features an ingenious system file backup/recovery scheme called the "Sandbox", a very unique and novel tool for disaster recovery. Overall, the program is so well designed I wish it were a standard utility for OS X. Its the perfect compliment to Time Machine, and its user interface is so well executed and friendly it puts Disk Utility to shame.

    Way to go Shirt Pocket!! [SuperDuper!'s site]

    I appreciate the helpfulness and quality of feedback from the forum members that posted on this thread. Thanks to you all!

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