New iMac Drive Configuration and Backups

Discussion in 'iMac' started by patrickcox, Jul 8, 2014.

  1. patrickcox macrumors newbie

    Jul 8, 2014
    I am getting ready to order a new iMac and need some help on my drive configuration and then how to manage backups with that as well. This machine will be used for general use along with photo and video editing. (Hobbyist, not professional.)

    Here is what I am considering along with my questions...

    21.5" iMac
    i7 Processor
    16GB RAM
    256 Flash Drive for OS and Apps
    Some sort of External drive for data - NEED HELP HERE

    So my questions are...

    1. What type of drive should I get for my data drive? Also if you have brand specific, including enclosures, please comment.

    2. How do I setup a backup system for both the internal SSD and the external HDD data drive?

  2. Fishrrman macrumors G5


    Feb 20, 2009
    You really need TWO external drives.

    One for the "primary" data drive, and a second drive to serve as a backup, for both the internal SSD -and- the external "primary data drive".

    You MUST keep at least two copies of your data -- or you risk losing it.

    I would skip "pre-assembled" drives, and build my own. It's ridiculously easy to do.

    You need to decide whether your external drives are going to be 3.5" or 2.5".
    These days, I'd suggest 2.5".

    I would not rely on high-capacity drives (4tb, etc.). The old saying about "keeping all your eggs in one basket" applies. Spread the data out onto several drives.

    Another suggestion:
    - On the backup drive, create 2 partitions
    - The "first" partition should contain a CarbonCopyCloner "cloned backup" of your internal SSD
    - The second partition can be a backup of your data drive.

    With a cloned backup of the SSD, if you ever get into an "I can't boot!" moment, it's a matter of connecting the clone and rebooting. You'll be right back up and running, with everything there in front of you.

    Without a cloned bootable backup, you're going to be flopping and floundering around, trying to get going again. I see post after post after post after post here in the forums from folks with that problem...
  3. Nuke61 macrumors 6502

    Jan 18, 2013
    Columbia, SC
    I suggest getting the 1TB Fusion drive, or paying the additional $300 for the 512GB SSD. Given your stated uses for your computer I don't think you'd notice the difference between the Fusion drive and pure SSD. It simplifies your backups, since the external drives would not be a mixture of data and backup devices.
  4. patrickcox thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jul 8, 2014
    Thanks. This is helpful. Let me just confirm, for a backup drive, do you recommend spinning or SSD? And then on the primary data drive, My understanding from reading some other posts is that a spinning drive is preferable because constant read / write access of an SSD will cause it to wear quicker. Is this correct or just misinformation?

    Hi, thanks for your reply. I considered the Fusion drive and the 512 SSD and here is my reasoning for deciding on the 256 SSD...

    1. My total data is approaching 1 TB (primarily video files and RAW image files) so in the not too distant future, none of these drives will hold all of my data so therefore I believe I need a large HDD to hold my data (maybe RAID but not sure.)

    2. On my current machine I am using about 35GB for my Windows Bootcamp installation with apps and then my OSX Applications, System and Library folders total about 35GB so currently I need less than 100GB for OS and Apps I believe. So the 256GB drive should be plenty for OS and Apps and stepping up to a 512 would really be wasted space unless I have some other good use for it as I don't really want to split my data between an SSD and external HDD.

    3. I am sure I could make the 3 TB Fusion drive meet my needs for OS, Apps and data but my understanding is that the SSD are significantly faster than Fusion. Is this correct or not? Also, I don't know if I can get that drive in the 21.5" machine. I only see it offered in the 27".

    So what are your thoughts on this? Thanks!
  5. hfg macrumors 68040


    Dec 1, 2006
    Cedar Rapids, IA. USA
    I am currently using a OWC "Thunderbay IV" Thunderbolt 4 bay JBOD enclosure with my iMac which offers great flexibility in configurations.

    The 2012 iMac has the 768GB SSD in it (I didn't want any spinning hard disk inside the iMac) partitioned as 512GB OS X and 256GB BootCamp Windows.

    The Thunderbay IV has 2 hard disks and 2 SSDs installed:

    - A pair of Samsung 840 Pro SSDs in RAID-0 for my Aperture Library
    - A 3TB hard disk partitioned for a CCC clone of the boot SSD, and the rest for 2.5TB data storage
    - A 4TB hard disk for TimeMachine historical backup (local copy)

    The drive with TimeMachine isn't a technical backup since it shares a chassis and power supply with the data drives. I only use it as a first level backup for quick DAS access. The Time Machine backup alternates between that local drive, and a NAS RAID system located in the basement.

    It is nice to "mix and match" drives (and RAID arrays) as your needs change with the Thunderbay IV enclosure, and it is blazing fast with RAID-0 SSDs.

    There are other JBOD enclosures available as well, I just liked that one based on size, noise levels, reviews, and Thunderbolt interface (allows trim on SSDs which USB-3 doesn't).

    You could also get a small 2.5" bus-powered TB or USB3 hard drive (1, 2, or 4 TB units are available) and simply velcro it to the back of the iMac stand. Then select an external backup system for all of it that meets your requirements.

    Please post your final configuration ... :)
  6. Nuke61 macrumors 6502

    Jan 18, 2013
    Columbia, SC
    With the further information about how much data you already have, I agree with your choice to use 2 drives. I use a 512GB external SSD, with the internal Fusion drive as 1 backup and a NAS with spinning drives as a 2nd backup. I'm still busy with post-move honey-do's, but I'll eventually set up another NAS as a 3rd backup. If you have critical data, which could be digital-only versions of baby pictures, you should do off site backup too.
  7. yjchua95, Jul 8, 2014
    Last edited: Jul 9, 2014

    yjchua95 macrumors 604

    Apr 23, 2011
    GVA, KUL, MEL (current), ZQN
    I have a 21.5" iMac with the exact same specs (3.1 i7/16/256/750M) and here's how I manage my storage:

    Internal SM0256F SSD: OS and apps, plus projects that I'm working on.

    External Buffalo HD-PATU3 Thunderbolt with 1TB HDD in it: 256GB partition for Time Machine of the internal SSD, and the rest of it for storing completed projects.

    External WD MyPassport 1TB: Identical to the HD-PATU3.

    In short, I have two backups of the internal SSD and one backup of my completed projects.

    Edit: I also have a Boot Camp partition in my external Buffalo HD-PATU3 Thunderbolt drive, but since it's only used for gaming, I don't make a backup of it.
  8. Truefan31 macrumors 68040


    Aug 25, 2012
    Yeah I'm wondering the same thing. I have a 27 imac with 1 tb 7200 internal, and a 512 external ssd with my boot osx on there. On my internal drive I have a bootcamp partition.

    Any suggestions on backup?
  9. patrickcox thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jul 8, 2014
    Thanks for your reply. This is helpful. I am curious though why you run your bootcamp partition on the external drive? I was going to load my windows partition on the internal SSD.

    Also, are you happy with the performance of having your data on the HDD via Thunderbolt? Is the HDD 7200?

    Thanks again.
  10. yjchua95 macrumors 604

    Apr 23, 2011
    GVA, KUL, MEL (current), ZQN
    The HDD is a standard 5400rpm HDD.

    I kept the Boot Camp partition externally because I didn't want it to occupy too much space on my internal SSD (the Boot Camp partition is 128GB, for playing NFS Rivals, Battlefield 4, etc).

    I'm not happy with boot performance (just like any 5400rpm drive), but once it's loaded (takes about 4 minutes to get into a fully useable state), it's good :)

    On the contrary, OS X takes only 8 seconds to boot up.

Share This Page