Mixed Drive Setup (SSD+HDD) in Macbook Pro

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by diamond3, Mar 23, 2012.

  1. diamond3, Mar 23, 2012
    Last edited: Jul 9, 2012

    diamond3 macrumors 6502a

    Oct 6, 2005
    First off, I did search and parts of this overall process but nothing exceptional. Please add to this in comments with your own experience or links to other posts. The goal of this thread will to hopefully create kind of an all-encompassing tutorial. I'll try to add more as I go through and install mine later next week.

    Choosing a Setup?
    The unibody macbook pro can take up to 12.5mm height hard drive. FYI: A lot of the optical bay "caddy's" only accept a 9.5mm hard drive. Be aware of this if you upgraded to a 1TB hard drive early on as some were 12.5mm.
    Performance: The 2011 unibody Macbook Pros can utilize a SATA III (6 Gb/s connection) in the hard drive bay, taking advantage of the fastest SSDs. There is some confusion over the optical bay and the speeds.
    General Rule of Thumb for SSD/HDD Placement:
    Pre-2011 models
    • HD in main bay with SSD in optical bay SATA II (3.0 Gb/s) connection. (Both HDD/Optical bay are SATA II)
    2011 Models
    • SSD in main Hard drive bay with SATA III (6.0 Gb/s) connection, hard drive in optical bay, varied SATA connection depending on model. There seems to not be a clear answer on if your computer supports SATA III in the optical bay. This only comes into play if you plan on doing having Sata 3 SSD drives in both available slots. View this OWC article for a little more in-depth information dealing with the 2011 models and SATA III in the optical bay.
    • Also, it seems as thought the optical bay doesn't have a sudden motion sensor to protect a hard drive from bumps or drops. However, several hard drives have this built into it to make up for it.

    2012 Models - Fully support SATA III (6 Gb/s) in both the HDD bay and the Optical Bay. I'd recommend just leaving your HDD in place (more sound proof, less installing) and put your SSD in the optical bay.

    Visit the thread for a more detailed explanation on SSD connection, types, trim support, etc.
    SSD Buying Guide

    Optical Bay to Sata options:
    Official "Expensive" Options
    Cheap Alternatives - Highly Recommended (View this thread for more info and success stories on going with the Hard Drive Caddy.)

    Installing guides and tutorials
    OWC (Macsales) DataDoubler install tutorial video

    iFixit Picture walkthrough for replacing hard drive and optical drives

    ***One major tip when removing the ODD, have the appropriate size screw driver, don't be afraid to push down harder than expected to loosen then screw. There is a risk of stripping the screw when trying to remove it the first time. Take your time, align the screwdriver with the screw and try to get it done on the first attempt. I almost stripped one of the 3 screws holding the ODD in place on my 13" mbp, but just barely removed it.***

    Installing Methods
    Clean Install on SSD + Add files on own
    I plan to go this route. It will take more time, but I feel like there are weird things going on with my current setup that I don't want to use migration assistant and have any of the settings get transferred. Basically I'm going to manually transfer files over after I have booted from the SSD.

    How to make a Bootable Mac OS X Lion USB Drive

    Files to remember:
    Contacts (iCloud)?
    iTunes (save play count, album artwork etc)
    Safari or other bookmarks (iCloud)
    Mail Folders
    Applications and Plugins
    Any others???

    Clean Install on SSD + Migration Assistant

    Copy "Clone" existing HD to SSD

    File Setup:
    Since the price of an SSD is still considerably more than an HDD, the dual setup allows you to keep your operating system on the faster SSD drive and store all of you "other" files on the slower HDD.

    The default User location will be located on your SSD by default. The problem is that this is the location where all of your iTunes, Photos, Movies are located. It is a good idea to move these files to the HDD. There are a couple of ways to do this. The easiest, but least beneficial way, is to move your whole home folder onto the secondary HDD drive.

    Here is an good tutorial with a few screenshots showing how to the home folder location:
    How to move you home folder in OS X

    This is more advanced (uses terminal) method, but recommended. This allows you to keep some of your cache files in your User folder located on the SSD.
    Here is a great article talking about only moving part of the home folder onto the secondary hard drive.

    Backup Methods:
    • Time Machine
    • Carbon Copy Cloner: I went this route. I partitioned 150GB (I realize now I'd decrease this to 128GB as I'll never have my SSD filled completely) on my 750GB HDD for my 128GB SSD backup. I went this route because I wanted to be able to boot from it in the event that my SSD failed. I set up a schedule for a weekly backup every sunday in the evening. It only copies the files changed, and any deleted files it will move to an archive folder which will be deleted as I need more space. So theoretically, I have ~22GB of flex space for deleted files if my SSD was completely full. So far it has worked quick and flawlessly. I highly recommend this method.
  2. dusk007 macrumors 68040


    Dec 5, 2009
    Please discourage people from wasting money on those insanely expensive optibays. That stuff costs 2 bucks to manufacture the price is just.
    It is a passive adapter with next to no magic to it and the expensive optibays come from the same chinese plants as the cheap ones do.

    Maybe add to the setup that install advice.
    Main bay HD in all but 2011
    SSD in optibay in all but 2011
    SSD in main bay in 2011 because of sata 3 issues.
    It seems to confuse people regularly.

    For installing nobody needs any more than CCC.
    Depending on needs people should move no more than media folders to the hdd. Movies, Pictures, Music, Documents (if it is huge).
    Keep working data, prefs and all else on the ssd.

    sym links in terminal
    sudo ln -s -i /Volumes/DataDrive/Movies/ ~/Movies
  3. squeakr macrumors 68000


    Apr 22, 2010
    Agreed on the drive bay recommendations.

    BElieve that there should be an exception or note of caution about CCC and Bootcamp partitions if they exist on the original drive. (Did read in a recent thread on here about a free Linux open Source cloner that someone used that cloned the entire drive intact, including the bootcamp partition and they didn't even need to re-register Windows upon launch, everything was just as it was before on the original drive.)
  4. diamond3 thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Oct 6, 2005
    There is an article that is linked in the post about this method. When I do it on my setup, I'll try to post a tutorial on how to do this.

    I remember this thread, but I tried searching and am not having any luck. If you find it, let me know.

    Keep the suggestions coming and I'll continue to add them.
  5. squeakr macrumors 68000


    Apr 22, 2010
    Here is an excerpt of the text from the user (remembered later it is in the Seagate Momentus XT 750GB vs WD Scorpio Black 750GB thread, that is the title too):

    On a related note -- I spent a long time trying to find the best way to clone my Boot Camp partition along with my Lion install. Anyone who tells you to get Winclone (costs $$$ now) or any other paid solution, DON'T DO IT! Clonezilla (open source free linux liveCD) cloned the entire drive, including Boot Camp, to the Momentus, and it booted up both sides no problem. No Windows activation issues either. Just an FYI.

  6. diamond3 thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Oct 6, 2005
    Oh yeah, that would be where I read it as well. Thanks and it is added to the list of hard drive cloning programs.
  7. HJ24 macrumors regular

    Oct 14, 2011
    YOU are the BEST! simple and concise enough to follow. Now i just gotta pick a Sata 2 ssd for my mid 2009 macbook pro, any suggestions? how's intel 320?
  8. mpeyrac, Apr 16, 2012
    Last edited: Apr 16, 2012

    mpeyrac macrumors newbie

    Apr 16, 2012
    Good advice diamond3. However I do have a question about your symbolic links.

    Here you say "ln -s /Volumes/HDDname/path/to/foldername" with no destination folder. so how does OS know what to link this new Source location to?

    is it possible for me to use the pictures, movies, music folders under my home drive to point to the information stored on my mechanical drive via the creation of a symlink in Terminal?

    Somebody suggested this
    $ sudo su (enter your system password)
    # ln -s /Volumes/Data/Movies Movies
    # ln -s /Volumes/Data/Music Music
    # ln -s /Volumes/Data/Pictures Pictures

    However I still don't understand how the destination folder can just be "Movies" or "Pictures".. I thought I would need to specify the full path to the "Movies" Or ""Pictures" folders under my "username" on the SSD for it to link correctly?

    Please correct me if I am wrong?

  9. tmanto02 macrumors 65816


    Jun 5, 2011
    I’m just waiting for my caddy to arrive from ebay and then i’ll be starting the process myself.

    My predicament is that I have more data that the SSD can hold so I'm going to have to do a fresh install of lion onto the ssd, install my apps onto the ssd, and then copy my data from an external onto a freshly formatted hdd. The only thing i’m concerned about it maintaining all of my iTunes metadata
  10. mpeyrac macrumors newbie

    Apr 16, 2012
    Should work fine from what I understand as along as you link the Music folder under your SSD correctly to the Itunes 'Music' folder on your HDD.

    Thats what my question above yours was about. Seen as everyone provides a mixed answer I am going to assume my advice is going to work. I'll test tomorrow when my drive arrived and provide the results
  11. HJ24 macrumors regular

    Oct 14, 2011
    Which ssd did u buy??
  12. mpeyrac macrumors newbie

    Apr 16, 2012
    Crucial 256GB M4
  13. diamond3, Apr 16, 2012
    Last edited: Apr 16, 2012

    diamond3 thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Oct 6, 2005
    Honestly, I've tried and gave up on it. I can't seem to get it to work the way I want it. I posted a question in another thread and couldn't get a response or suggestion. Now that I've got more time on my hands, I'll probably look into it again. As of right now, I just manually transfer things over to my HDD as I see fit and placed the iTunes and iPhoto library permanently. I was able to get a symlink in place, but I could not see the advantage of doing it the way it turned out.

    Here is another set of directions: http://forums.macrumors.com/showpost.php?p=12884311&postcount=36
  14. tmanto02, Apr 19, 2012
    Last edited: Apr 19, 2012

    tmanto02 macrumors 65816


    Jun 5, 2011
    So I installed my 120GB SSD yesterday and couldn't be more pleased.

    I installed the SSD in the optical bay (2009 model) and a 750GB 7200rpm HDD in the hard drive bay.

    I then installed a fresh copy of lion onto the SSD and reinstalled all my apps manually onto the SSD.

    I then relocated my media folders (Music, Pictures, Movies) to the HDD and told iTunes where to look in future.

    From there I transferred my data from my external (cloned using Super Duper). The only bit I was worried about was retaining all my iTunes metadata (date added etc..). I did this by copying the contents of my iTunes folder on my external into the corresponding folder in my new 750GB HDD.

    Iphoto was super simple. You simply move the iPhoto library file to its new location and open it and iPhoto learns where to look.

    So now all my apps, cache files and documents are stored on the SSD for max performance, and my large multimedia libraries on my HDD.

    My boot time improved dramatically from 1 min 15 secs to 28 secs with all my apps and data reinstalled (19 seconds with a clean install of lion only).

    Hope my simpleton method has helped
  15. bimmeracer macrumors regular

    Oct 13, 2008
    It has been stated by a few people that the SSD performs better when its used in the factory HD location of 2011 MBP, in which I own a 15".
    So if I wanted to put the SSD where my main drive is and move the factory hard drive over to the optical bay, what would be the best way to go about it?
    Boot from an external HD and then swap the HD's?
  16. Spikeuk76 macrumors newbie

    May 4, 2012
    Ive just recently did exactly that, Crucial M4 SSD in the HD bay and old HD into the Optibay using an ebay adapter.

    I backed up all the media from my existing HD on to an external HD, leaving me with the OS, apps and documents on the HD, this allowed me to clone the HD to the new SSD(plugged in externally) using Super Duper.

    Once cloned, I swapped the drives out, putting the SSD into the main drive bay and removing the Superdrive and installing the caddy/HD.

    Super simple with no problems, really really really fast computer now!!!!!
  17. bimmeracer macrumors regular

    Oct 13, 2008
    Did you clone the old HD to the SSD via a usb 2.0 enclosure?

    I am hoping that I can just boot from old HD in the optical bay and then clone the old HD to the SSD which will be in the Main HD bay which Im assuming will transfer much faster.
  18. craigjr88 macrumors newbie

    Mar 25, 2009
    I'm NEW to MACS and 3rd time posting in a forum

    I have been a PC Tech for 17years but a year ago I drank the Cool-Aid and now I am all about Apple. Swapped out all my PC stuff with Apple stuff except 1 Dell Server and I even replaced my $400 Wireless Router with a Time Capsule (1tb)!

    So I'm still extremely new to MAC and I found this thread because I was looking for advice on a MPB Setup with both SSD & HDD. I've read everyone's posts and I have to say so far it seems that everyone here knows a lot more about MACS than I do. I do say I really like diamond3's suggestion for a setup and was wondering if I could get some more details on that and how it's been working out for you. Or if anyone has a similar setup they could suggest.
    I have the following....

    2010 15" MacBook Pro6,2 i7 2.66GHz 8GB Ram 500GB HD w/OSX10.7.4 & Windows 7 Ultimate64bit(Bootcamp) - This WAS my original config.

    -I Purchased and installed the following.
    - Intel SSD 520 Series 120GB Drive - (Installed w/DriveCaddy in OpticalBay)
    - Seagate Momentus XT Hybrid Drive(7200RPM, 32Mb Cache,6.0Gb/s, 8GB-SSD) 750GB Drive (In the main bay)
    ***Both bays are 3.0Gb/s but I put the Hybrid in the main bay so that (if it supports it) it can take advantage of the SMS. If it will or not I don't know -but didn't matter which one went where with this Macbook Pro.

    I love the idea of setting up a 150GB Partition to use as backup for the 120GB SSD and would like to know how that's working for you and how specifically I would set that up. There are quite a few details I want to know about the setup that I think would be too long to post open in the forum.
    I also require Windows 7 Ultimate 64bit on Bootcamp - I'm sort of stuck on this part - Windows does take up a good amount of space and since the 750gb drive is a Hybrid Windows would still run excellent if I was to install it on that drive.
    I will also be running Parallels Desktop 7 running the Windows 7 Bootcamp also as a VM.
    --I have quite a large "User Profile" mainly with media (movies, music, itunes apps(ios) and pictures via iPhoto Database.

    --I figure I just create same folder path "Users/Me/Music/Itunes ect.... on the hybrid drive and then move all my media there and point Itunes to that folder???
    --Then iPhone - I think that I could just have the iPhoto Library within the Pictures folder following the same thing I did with the Itunes and when Launching iPhone hold Option? and browse it to the current location of the iPhone Database??

    This is all I have come up with and i got a lot of it from reading this particular thread so I thank everyone so far and want to know if I'm on a good track so far?
    Thank you!!!!
  19. diamond3 thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Oct 6, 2005
    I've been loving this setup. The only reason I'd consider upgrading is to get the quad core 15" for encoding and rendering the videos I work on. Since I'm only using about 60GB at the most of my 128GB ssd, I wish I would have partitioned less (~120GB instead of 150). Mostly because I've been tight on space a few times do to large video projects I'm working on that are taking up 200GB+.

    I use Carbon Copy cloner and have it scheduled to automatically backup every sunday evening. If my computer is asleep, it will start when i wake it up the next time. It's worked great, but I've yet to actually try and boot from the backup HDD. It usually only takes 5 minutes to run through the backup process depending on the files I have added or changed to the SSD. I highly recommend this, but keep in mind you may want a backup that's not connected to your computer incase you spill something or your laptop gets stolen. CCC will eventually use up all the partition space with the way I set mine up. It makes a current backup of everything and any files that are changed will get moved into an archive folder. As the space gets limited, it will eventually erase the older archive files to make room for it. What this does is theoretically if you deleted a file you didn't mean to, you wouldn't lose it for good when CCC ran. You'd be able to find it in the archive folder assuming it's somewhat recent.

    With your windows setup, I don't have any experience using bootcamp and hard drive formats. You may want to create a separate partition (3 total on you HDD) for windows. I'm not sure on the best way to do this because it may be beneficial to format the HDD so both mac and windows can read the files.

    iTunes and iPhoto: I just dragged both my iPhoto Library and iTunes folder onto my HDD. Then hold option and click the iPhoto or iTunes icon and it will let you select the location of where you just moved it. You don't really have to create a users/me/.... path. I just have a folder for pictures and a folder for music. I don't have a large iPhoto library, but I haven't noticed any performance issues. Same goes for iTunes.
  20. tmanto02 macrumors 65816


    Jun 5, 2011

    Mate your definitely on track - I have a MBP with a 120GB for my OS and Apps and a 750GB 7200 for my multimedia. With regard to your iTunes and iPhoto you're on the money, thats how I did it. I created a "music" "photos" and "movies" folder on my 750GB, however I kept my original home folder on the SSD for performance.

    Unfortunately I don't use windows so I can't help you with that. Your backup idea onto the 750gb is a good one and I'm definitely going to look into it.
  21. craigjr88 macrumors newbie

    Mar 25, 2009
  22. craigjr88 macrumors newbie

    Mar 25, 2009
    Another HDD/SDD Setup

    Just wanted to add this as well - I'm new to MAC's and I've always been a self-teaching type guy, so I was given a 2008 White Macbook with a broken LCD Screen (was only used for 2months before it broke and was put back in the box until it was given to me) for payment ($35).
    So I figured I could work on this on fixing it up so I can get some more exp with Mac hardware and so on.
    Orig Specs: 2008 Macbook4,1 2.4GHz(800MHz BUS) Intel Core 2 Duo 2GiG Ram(667Mhz BUS), 160GB HD and everything else normal for this model.

    -Ordered new LCD Display $139.00 (could have got one cheaper but this specific model is actually better display then the OEM and the cheaper replacements)
    -Ordered Replacement Screen Bezel $23
    -Seagate Momentus XT Hybrid 500GB Hard Drive $90
    -6GB RAM (1x4GB + 1x2GB) DDR2-PC2-5300 - Still looking for a decent price, I can upgrade to 4GB for $65 (2x2GB), but I'd like to bring it to 6GB

    -So just with the hybrid drive and 2GB Memory this Macbook is pretty darn fast!! Even the boot time is almost just as fast as my MBP with the full SSD Drive!
    --Does anyone think it would be worth it to throw like a 120GB SSD drive in this and buy a drive caddy so I can keep the 500gb hybrid as well??? Right now I'm only into this Macbook for around $250, and I think as is right now I could probably sell it for about $5-600 maybe. It's in excellent condition cosmetically, it was only used for a month or so before it was broken.
    I could add a 60GB SSD for $85 (including drive caddy)????

    Thanks for opinions.
  23. aaronlam macrumors newbie


    Jun 24, 2010

    So I can't do this on a mid-2010 Macbook Pro? I just have to keep the HDD in the main bay and SSD in the optibay?

    Will be using the SSD for the OS and the HDD for file storage... wanted to get the most out of the SSD.

  24. tmanto02 macrumors 65816


    Jun 5, 2011
    You can do it either way. The reason you should put the SSD in the main bay in 2011 MacBooks is because they have a SATA3 port (faster) and only SATA2 in the optical bay. However cause yours in 2010 it won't matter which way you go. I have a 2009 MBP and I put the SSD in the optical bay
  25. dale040205 macrumors newbie

    Feb 6, 2012
    I just bought a late 2011 15" MBP, and without sufficient research bought a Crucial M4 128 GB SSD. I attempted to install it in the ODD bay via a caddy, but it wouldn't work. Found the OWC article about the 15" & 17" Late 2011 MBP's not able to support SATA 3.0 devices in the ODD bay. Has anyone had any luck with a SATA 3.0 HDD in the ODD bay? I'm thinking I may move my HDD there if it will work. If so, will it boot from there so I can then use CCC to clone my HDD over to the SSD? Thanks for the help!

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146 March 23, 2012