Optimizing external drive setup for new iMac

Discussion in 'iMac' started by Lord Chaos, Jun 22, 2017.

  1. Lord Chaos macrumors newbie

    Lord Chaos

    Joined:
    Aug 10, 2010
    #1
    Hi everybody,

    I’ve pulled the trigger and have ordered a new 27” iMac / i5 / 580 / 512SSD / 8GB (+32GB upgrade).

    I’m currently using a 2010 27” iMac / 2TB HDD with a few external Lacie HDDs all currently utilizing Firewire but also have USB 2.0. I also have a Apogee Duet Firewire daisy-chained as well.. but that’s a whole other issue. :)

    I’ve been reading all the great advice over the last couple weeks about TB3 vs. USB3.1 but I’m wondering the best strategy for migrating to my new iMac with a much smaller internal SSD + the need for external SSDs for data and Time Machine backup.

    I’m completely on board with moving photos (516GB) and music (250GB) to an external SSD but capacity/budget may become an issue if each of those essentially need their own SSD (ie. Samsung 850 EVO SSD).

    What’s the optimal setup with the my new iMac best utilizing internal 512GB SSD, 2 TB/USB-C ports for large libraries of photos, music, video, data and also setting up a separate drive for backup? I assume an SSD isn’t necessary for backup drive? How do I best divvy up all my data and minimize the number of external drives required. I’m not sure what the typical setup looks like these days.

    I’m coming from a really old system so the new system is going to seem incredibly fast but I want to set things up that will last for a few years.

    Any suggestions are very much appreciated!

    Thanks.
     
  2. btrach144, Jun 22, 2017
    Last edited: Jun 22, 2017

    btrach144 macrumors 65816

    btrach144

    Joined:
    Aug 28, 2015
    #2
    Hello!

    I also moved from an older system (2011 MBP) to a new 2017 iMac. This meant that my workflow of using older eSATA drives to LaCie eSATA - Thunderbolt 1 connection is outdated. My drives are averaging about 150 MB/s, which was fine 6.5 years ago but slow for today's standards.

    My plan:

    Main Drive: LaCie 2big dock Thunderbolt 3 (12 TB), which should achieve 440 MB/s. It's almost as fast as many 1 TB SATA III SSDs but 12x the storage space.
    Backup: Two LaCie d2 Thunderbolt 3 (6 TB) drives, which rotate backing up Time Machine every hour. (My critical files shouldn't exceed 3 TB for at least a couple of years so 6TB should be enough to meet the suggested 2-4x backup space)
    Offsite backup: Hyper critical files and photos are backed up to my 1 TB of OneDrive storage

    Travel storage/backup for SD cards: LaCie Rugged USB-C 1 TB

    Downside: TB3 cables are hard to find in lengths longer than 1.5 FT.
     
  3. SaSaSushi, Jun 22, 2017
    Last edited: Jun 22, 2017

    SaSaSushi macrumors 68040

    SaSaSushi

    Joined:
    Aug 8, 2007
    Location:
    Takamatsu, Japan
    #3
    MacOS on the internal 512GB SSD. BootCamp Windows 10 on a 500GB Samsung 840EVO in a Delock 42490 Thunderbolt enclosure.

    Other than that, regular old spinning drives connected via USB3 are more than sufficient for me.

    I have two 3TB Seagate 7200RPM HDDs in a USB3 cradle. I use one of the drives for a daily Carbon Copy Cloner backup of macOS and Time Machine in separate partitions. I back up the most critical files from HD1 to HD2. I also keep all music and photos on the HD. I also have all photos backed up to Amazon Photos (unlimited photo storage via Prime). Yes, I am only getting about 130 MB/s over USB3 but that's just fine for me for its purpose.
    Yes, I concur.
     
  4. johannnn macrumors 65816

    johannnn

    Joined:
    Nov 20, 2009
    Location:
    Sweden
    #4
    - macOS on internal 500GB drive.
    - important files in ~/Documents which is backed up to iCloud
    Every Sunday I connect
    - 500GB external USB 2,5" drive for SuperDuper clone
    - 2TB external USB 2,5" drive for Time Machine
     
  5. mathemabeat macrumors member

    Joined:
    Sep 1, 2009
    Location:
    Cincinnati, OH
    #5
    Just brought home my new 27" 2017 iMac yesterday. i5 3.80GHz, 2TB Fusion, Radeon Pro 580

    Internal:
    2TB Fusion - Internal drive with OS and apps

    External:
    500GB Samsung 850 Evo in USB Type C enclosure - Final Cut Pro X current projects drive
    4TB Western Digital HD - Final Cut Pro X projects archive drive
    20TB NAS on GigE network for mass bulk storage




    I'm really digging the USB Type C connection for the external SSD. I might check into a USB Type C raid enclosure. Would love to have an external SSD raid array for my current 4k FCPX projects.
     
  6. shaunp macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Nov 5, 2010
    #6
    Don't worry about the capacity for now, your needs seem to be covered by a single disk for primary storage, plus another for backup. Realistically what kind of transfers are you doing. If you are only streaming a bit of music and editing photos then USB 3 will be fine, there's no need to go to the expense of thunderbolt as USB 3 will have enough bandwidth for you - let's face it you can only edit one photo at a time. Keep the catalogue on SSD sure, but the images themselves can sit on a regular HDD.

    If I were you I'd just have two USB 3.0/3.1 disks, one for primary storage and one for backup. If you have the extra budget, sure some form of desktop RAID (Lacie, Promise, etc) would be great but I'm not entirely sure you need it.

    I would spend the extra money on a bit of cloud storage just to you can keep an offsite copy of your photos.

    The whole setup would be very easy to understand and fix if there is an issue.
     
  7. Lord Chaos thread starter macrumors newbie

    Lord Chaos

    Joined:
    Aug 10, 2010
    #7

    Thanks for your input everybody. It's interesting to read a variety of setups from different people.

    I do creative work for my day job but just hobbyist creative stuff at home (audio, video, photography) and use Adobe CC but it sounds like a USB3.1 connection will be sufficient. Obviously, I'd love to have an all SSD setup but it doesn't sound like large capacity SSDs are cheap enough to go that route.

    I'm really looking forward to using Lightroom and Premiere without starting at the spinning beach ball all the time.

    Does anybody have recommendations for online cloud storage?
     
  8. btrach144 macrumors 65816

    btrach144

    Joined:
    Aug 28, 2015
    #8
    If you already have Office 365 then you have 1 TB of OneDrive storage for free.

    (Disclosure: I work for MS so I'm biased) I do think it's a great product though!
     
  9. Glideslope macrumors 601

    Glideslope

    Joined:
    Dec 7, 2007
    Location:
    NY
    #9
    How long were you able to stare at the box before pulling the strip? ;)
     
  10. mathemabeat macrumors member

    Joined:
    Sep 1, 2009
    Location:
    Cincinnati, OH
    #10
    About 5 seconds. lol

    Ohh and just added a 256gb external SSD. Installing Windows 10 on it.
     
  11. danielwsmithee macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Mar 12, 2005
    #11
    This is my setup.

    • Internal SSD 1TB has OS/Applications/Home Directories + Photo Library for the current year, any current projects.
    • External HD (Currently it is a single WD MyBook 2TB) has iTunes Library, Older Photo Library, Archived Projects.
    • Backup via Time Machine to Synology NAS with 5B of Raid Storage, along with other Macs in the house. Also hosts cloud-station synchronization of all home directory Documents & Desktop folders.

    I really like using a slower NAS that is stored away in completely different part of the house for backups.

    I want to upgrade the External HD to an OWC Thunderbay 4 mini with SATA SSDs....
     
  12. shaunp macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Nov 5, 2010
    #12
    I use OneDrive for cloud storage as I get 1TB free with an Office365 subscription. I supports versioning on Office documents, but I don't think this is supported on other files. Dropbox is okay, but I have concerns about their security. Another option often overlooked is Amazon, they offer unlimited storage to Prime subscribers for £55 per year, and it's backed by S3 which is probably the most mature cloud storage out there. Not sure I would go down the Adobe cloud route though.

    Back to external disks. If you are using USB, don't forget that they can occasionally drop connection so I'd still keep your LR catalogue internal.
     
  13. btrach144 macrumors 65816

    btrach144

    Joined:
    Aug 28, 2015
    #13
    As a Microsoft employee, I can confirm that OneDrive handles more than Office files.

    I have yet to find a file type that doesn't work with Office365.
     
  14. shaunp macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Nov 5, 2010
    #14
    I know it handles more than Office files, can you confirm whether file versioning is enabled for file types other than Office? That was the question really. Thanks.
     
  15. JVNeumann macrumors member

    Joined:
    Mar 23, 2017
    #15
    Hi all, I'm countenancing a similar setup to the OP, but I might potentially run MacOS from an external SSD rather than an internal one. Would such an arrangement bottleneck my operating speed?

    If it does then I'll just buy an internal in the new iMac and put the OS there instead; it just seems like a bit of a waste of a good 512GB SSD external drive to simply relegate it to backup/secondary file storage, so I'm hoping to find a better use for it.
     
  16. Lord Chaos thread starter macrumors newbie

    Lord Chaos

    Joined:
    Aug 10, 2010
    #16
    My beautiful new iMac arrived last week and I’ve been doing some more research into my available storage options using some of the previous suggestions.

    I agree that I don’t really have a need for an external SSD (due to cost/capacity) and the internal 512GB SSD in the new iMac. I’m basically starting my external data drive / backup drive solution from scratch so my instinct tells me I should definitely go the route of TB3 / USB 3.1 (USB-C) since I have the option to start anew. USB 3.0 might be cheaper but I want a setup that will perform well and stay current in 4-5 years so I’m hesitant to invest in an older connection when I have the option for something faster. It would also give me the option of replacing the HDD with an SSD in the future when costs come down.

    I’ve actually now leaning towards a dual bay JBOD setup I can use for a data/scratch disk and TM backup. I’m coming from a time where I had a bunch of single drive enclosures on my desk but it seems to make sense to purchase a multi-bay enclosure this time around. The products that looked interesting were:
    I need more clarity whether a HDD spinner will actually take advantage of TB3/USB 3.1 (USB-C) and whether a 2.5” or 3.5” dual drive bay is a better option. Obviously, a HDD won’t fully utilize the faster connection like an SSD would but unsure of the difference in performance.

    Does it make sense to invest in a newer USB-C multi-drive bay? It’s not so much that I need every last bit of speed on a day-to-day basis but it just feels wrong to buy into a USB 3.0 setup with things turning the corner as we speak. Is the HDD itself such a bottleneck that I will see no improvement in speed using USB 3.0 vs USB-C?

    I appreciate any further suggestions about a setup or specific products that might work for me.

    Thanks everybody!
     
  17. SaSaSushi macrumors 68040

    SaSaSushi

    Joined:
    Aug 8, 2007
    Location:
    Takamatsu, Japan
    #17
    I've been using two 7200 RPM Seagate Barracuda 3.5 inch 3TB HDD in a USB3 cradle that only supports JBOD but I am really considering upgrading to this new Startech enclosure. Here it is at Amazon.com.

    For about $130 it supports USB-C/Thunderbolt 3 and has RAID 0, RAID 1, JBOD and SPAN (BIG) modes.

    It looks like the perfect solution for my needs!
     
  18. Taz Mangus, Jul 3, 2017
    Last edited: Jul 3, 2017

    Taz Mangus macrumors 68040

    Taz Mangus

    Joined:
    Mar 10, 2011
    #18
    I don't believe that that enclosure supports Thunderbolt 3. In the specs it only mentions USB 3.1 Gen 2 and a max throughput of 10GB/s.

    EDIT: Just realized that the spec says tested up to 10GB/s. Also, I see on some enclosures that are USB 3.1 Gen 2 it states compatiable with Thunderbolt 3 but list throughout up to 10GB/s.

    EDIT2: Reading on this more I think my confusion came from both USB 3.1 Gen 2 and Thunderbolt 3 sharing the same USB C connector. Thunderbolt 3 still requires Thunderbolt 3 controller hardware. So my first thoughts were correct that compatiable with Thunderbolt 3 just means it uses the same style connector and can be plugged into a Thunderbolt 3 port but won't support Thunderbolt 3 speed. Now I understand the difference more clearly.
     
  19. SaSaSushi macrumors 68040

    SaSaSushi

    Joined:
    Aug 8, 2007
    Location:
    Takamatsu, Japan
    #19
    Thank you for this clarification. Oh well, I am not going to be getting enough bandwidth out of two HDD anyway, even in RAID. I might still get this enclosure for the RAID as well as the USB-C/3.1 connection at a reasonable price.
     
  20. Taz Mangus macrumors 68040

    Taz Mangus

    Joined:
    Mar 10, 2011
    #20
    I think there will be a lot of people that have this confusion as well, as you and I did.
     

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