OSX & Windows on SSD; what's best format for secondary HDD as data drive?

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by trwalp, Sep 9, 2013.

  1. trwalp macrumors newbie

    Sep 9, 2013
    I'm about to install an SSD and a larger HDD in a new mid-2012 non-retina MBP. I'll preface my actual question with a brief summary of what I've concluded from reading thus far, in case it helps someone with similar plans, so please reply with any corrections.

    Where to install the SSD and HDD
    It sounds like the consensus of opinion is that the SSD should go in the old HDD bay and the secondary drive -- in my case a 1TB 7200rpm HDD -- should go in the optical drive bay. I've read that SMS works in both channels but for some reason booting from the optical drive SATA channel is unreliable -- or so they say. I'd rather mount the HDD in the actual HDD bay because of the shock mounts and the assumption that HDD bay is better designed for cooling an HDD, but I'll trade reliable booting for either of those.

    In what order to install this stuff
    I understand that Bootcamp needs the optical drive for installing Windows (v8 in my case) so I'll start with just the SSD installed. I'll use CarbonCopy to move OSX to the SSD from the stock HDD in a USB3 dock. Then do the Bootcamp thing and install Windows 8. It's a 256GB SSD so I'll split it. I'm in the dark about how many partitions the Mac can handle but I'm assuming OSX needs 2 and Windows 8 uses 3, so, well... that's unknown territory for me.

    Now to my question...

    Can I share the HDD data drive between Windows and OSX, or should I split the HDD and let each OS have its own data partition? Except for my music library I'll be mostly using each OS for different purposes, so sharing isn't essential if it's a bad idea. On the other hand, I'd rather share the music and have the full 1TB of space for whichever applications need it.

    Since the HDD is a 1TB drive I can't use FAT32 so I assume that if I want both OS's to share it I'll have to use 3rd party software to make it readable by OSX or Windows. Which OS should get native access vs a driver?

    I don't know how well OSX and Windows get along when sharing a data; does either OSX change the data files in ways that make this more trouble than it's worth? For one somewhat extreme example, it would be ideal if iTunes in OSX and iTunes in Windows could both share the same music folder but what's the likelihood of this working?
  2. mneblett, Sep 9, 2013
    Last edited: Sep 9, 2013

    mneblett macrumors 6502

    Jun 7, 2008
    A lot of questions -- I guess I'll start and let others fill in.

    FWIW, I have a 250GB SSD in the HDD bay, and a 512GB spinner in the optical bay. Zero problems with the HDD in the optibay.

    Win8 does not require three partitions. If you are doing BootCamp, it will let you select the partition size for Windows, and take the second (Bootcamp/Win) partition out of the original OSX partition. When I did BootCamp, I took 100GB for Win7 and let the remaining ~150GB to OSX.

    If you want to share files between partitions, skip BootCamp and use virtual machine software. I now use Parallels, and have my choice of running Windows full screen (as if I booted into Win7), or run Windows windows on the OSX desktop. I can reach into either OS to use/modify files, and there is no partitioning to do. (I do not have much experience with VMWare, so my mention of Parallels is not a "the only one" endorsement. I evaluated both products and Parallels met my needs/desires better.)

    Win8 does not require a DVD to install in Parallels -- it can be installed from an .iso file or a USB stick.

    I also cloned my SSD from the original HDD, but did it with the SSD in the external drive first -- Carbon Copy would not generate a bootable OSX volume if the SSD was installed and the cloning was from the external HDD in the enclosure (BTDT, didn't work).

    More coming as I think of it.
  3. trwalp thread starter macrumors newbie

    Sep 9, 2013
    Thank you for replying, mneblett. You're right, W8 needs only the two partitions.

    I decided to avoid VM software because of the performance hit W8 will take. I really just want a laptop that can boot into either environment, a hackintosh is too klugey, so using a MBP as the hardware platform is the best option. But I want the hardware and software to work at their fullest potential so I'll stick with dual booting from the SSD.

    Any thoughts about the data drive? That's my real concern.
  4. raptor402 macrumors 6502

    Jun 30, 2011

    On my mid 2010 15", I have an 180 GB SSD for OS X in the HDD bay and a 500GB HDD for Windows and storage in the Optical bay. I have a storage partition formatted to HFS+ on the HDD. With the bootcamp drivers, windows can read and write the HFS+ partition.

    Another option would be to make an NTFS partition for both OSes and install Paragon NTFS for Mac.

  5. mneblett, Sep 10, 2013
    Last edited: Sep 10, 2013

    mneblett macrumors 6502

    Jun 7, 2008
    I do not recall being able to access OSX-side files from Win7 in BootCamp, but that is NOT a definitive statement -- I just didn't try it out much. IIRC, there was an issue not being able to read the OSX-formated partition from Windows, but again, I'm not sure about that.

    As for the performance hit with VM software, I haven't noticed it at all (on a late '08 2.4GHz C2D MBP). Maybe I would be more sensitive to it if I was gaming a lot, but I'm not, and Parallels 8 has been quick enough that I have no complaints. Parallels 9 is being marketed as quite a bit faster/more efficient (40%?) than P8. You may want to consider trying the free trial version before you dismiss the option.
  6. dusk007 macrumors 68040


    Dec 5, 2009
    You just have to use exFAT. That is basically FAT64 and has non of the FAT32 size limitations.
    OSX and Windows both support it (in read and write) and it doesn't need any special drivers.
    You can read HFS from within Windows after installing bootcamp drivers but it won't let you write or alter anything. OSX also reads NTFS but doesn't write. The write capable drivers always had some issues in both OS with me, I would really just go for exFAT. NTFS drivers in OSX messed with Spotlight, battery life and performance was much worse than it should be. Macdrive (HFS driver) didn't mess up anything but the trial was annoying and had booting issues, I never found worth the money.
    Neither OS would change the data. They do however add small files for settings and thumbnails which are usually hidden in the OS that creates them but sometimes visible in the other OS. thumbs file, DSstore and how they are all called. They are harmless and only look strange.
    Sharing iTunes folders shouldn't be a problem.
  7. trwalp thread starter macrumors newbie

    Sep 9, 2013
    Thank you Raptor402.

    Of the several comparisons between virtualizing Windows and using Bootcamp this one struck me as comprehensive. I'm curious about Parallel's claims of using their software to access a Bootcamp-installed Windows, which at first glance might give you the choice of booting into Bootcamp for maximum performance or using their software when performance isn't so critical. And then I'm going to use Windows 8, which is so much more peppy than Windows 7 one wonders if an SSD is even needed when using it on a PC. Maybe I should take mneblett's advice (thank you) and at least try it.
  8. trwalp thread starter macrumors newbie

    Sep 9, 2013
    Thank you for replying, dusk007, and mentioning exFAT. Doesn't it have a reputation for unreliability due to its single file allocation table? Here's an interesting thread about exFAT, especially in the comments. There's even mention of a Transaction Safe exFAT format available in Windows 8. On the other side of the coin there are comments suggesting that search indexing won't work. Ack!

    So much to digest.
  9. mneblett macrumors 6502

    Jun 7, 2008
    SSD!!!! Night/day difference in responsiveness when loading programs -- Win7 or Win8. I'll never have a HDD primary drive again. My suggestion is to not even think of sticking with an HDD -- the improvements with Win8 (with or without Parallels) will not come close to the improvement with an SSD.
  10. dusk007 macrumors 68040


    Dec 5, 2009
    Search indexing works. In my experience it always broke down when I tried to index ntfs but exfat never was an issue.
    Yes exFAT isn't something you'd run a server on or as working data drive. For data of big files such as movies, pictures, music it works just fine. Any possible corruptions that might occur would be easily resolved and rather unlikely.
    There is a good reason it isn't used for running an OS on top but for just a data drive it is a fast low overhead, easy to maintain file system. FAT table repairs are also rather easy.
    The only issues that can come up is when copying data over and if something goes wrong you have to redo on HFS and NTFS just the same.
  11. trwalp thread starter macrumors newbie

    Sep 9, 2013
    Thank you for your post. By what I wrote I meant to suggest that Windows 8 boots so quickly and acts so snappily it makes SSD's seem less necessary, at least for bootup and basic operations.

    Having used SSD's for a long time I would never go back to using a spinner for the OS and programs, even with W8.

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