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Photos setup on new imac

TVreporter

macrumors 6502a
Original poster
Mar 11, 2012
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Near Toronto
Have a 2019 iMac arriving next week.

My dilemma is how to best set it up with respect to my photos collection.

I’ve been solely using my phone/iCloud for photos after my 2011 iMac died last year - it housed the main photo library but I did get everything on the cloud before the graphics card died.

Is there anyway to access or transfer files from the 2011 even though it won’t load to the OS

I have about 280GB in the cloud. How do I get all that on the internal of my new iMac? Simply sign in as usual and download? I was using optimization on my phone but want to get the originals back on drives.

I am getting a 512GB internal SSD so obviously I’ll need external drives (is SSD needed for Photos library?). What’s the best setup process to run Photos externally?
 
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Fishrrman

macrumors Core
Feb 20, 2009
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The price of external USB3 SSDs has come down, so you might consider something like a Samsung t5 or Sandisk Extreme in a 512gb or 1tb size.

But remember -- if you use an external drive for "primary storage" (things that are not also stored on the internal drive), then you need a SECOND external drive to serve as a backup. One copy "is not enough"!
The second drive could be a high-capacity platter-based USB3 drive, which you could then partition and use as a backup (on the first partition) for your internal drive AND (on a second partition) a backup for the external.
I would recommend either CarbonCopyCloner or SuperDuper to create and maintain such backups.

Are all the files that you want (photos, and possibly other stuff) "in the cloud", as well as on the 2011 iMac? If that's the case, just "download from the cloud".

Once you have the files on the new iMac, you can move them around as needed (to an external drive, etc.).

If there are things on the internal drive that don't exist anywhere else, you could:
a. open up the iMac
b. take the hard drive out
c. get a USB3/SATA docking station (about $20)
d. use that to mount the drive on your new iMac and access it that way.
 
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TVreporter

macrumors 6502a
Original poster
Mar 11, 2012
611
727
Near Toronto
Are all the files that you want (photos, and possibly other stuff) "in the cloud", as well as on the 2011 iMac? If that's the case, just "download from the cloud".

If there are things on the internal drive that don't exist anywhere else, you could:
a. open up the iMac
b. take the hard drive out
c. get a USB3/SATA docking station (about $20)
d. use that to mount the drive on your new iMac and access it that way.

Yes I got pretty much everything in the cloud before that graphics card died. Unfortunately I’m in a small town with no repair technicians nearby - I know nothing about opening and removing a drive.

So is it possible to erase that 2011 drive before I ditch it without cracking it open? Seems like such a waste - the pitfalls of an AIO I guess .
 
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Ledgem

macrumors 68000
Jan 18, 2008
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Hawaii, USA
Is there anyway to access or transfer files from the 2011 even though it won’t load to the OS
Possibly. If you try to boot the computer and hold down the T key on your keyboard it would normally cause the Mac to enter "target disk mode," which causes the internal drive to mount as if it were an external drive when connected to another computer. This happens before the operating system loads but it does require that the Mac at least get through some basic boot steps. I'm not sure how badly the graphics card failed, or whether it would prevent the system from entering target disk mode. If your graphics are working even barely you'd see on the screen that you're in the correct mode, but if your screen isn't working then you'd have no choice but to do some trial and error.

The problem is that it won't be a completely free thing for you to simply give it a try. Target disk mode on older Macs relied on connection through the Firewire port to work. On newer Macs it works through Thunderbolt, and there are some reports that it can work through USB 3, as well. Based on what I can see on the internet, your 2011 iMac likely has Thunderbolt 1 and Firewire 800 ports. Either would be a valid option to try, but you will need an adapter: either Firewire 800 to Thunderbolt 3; or Thunderbolt to Thunderbolt 3 (note that there's no differentiation between Thunderbolt 1 and 2 - the cables and connectors were the same). If you were to buy from Apple, those adapters are around $40. You can get them cheaper on eBay, of course.

I have about 280GB in the cloud. How do I get all that on the internal of my new iMac? Simply sign in as usual and download? I was using optimization on my phone but want to get the originals back on drives.
I don't use the "photos in the cloud" service but my understanding is that all of the originals are on Apple's servers. When you get your new computer just direct Photos to use the service (which you'll likely be prompted to do, anyway) and the rest should be automatic. I believe the Mac automatically downloads the full originals, and iOS devices have that option about optimization because keeping the full-resolution and original images would take up a lot of space for little benefit.

I am getting a 512GB internal SSD so obviously I’ll need external drives (is SSD needed for Photos library?). What’s the best setup process to run Photos externally?
You don't need a SSD for your Photos library, although running it off of one will speed up its performance. It depends on what types of photos you have there, and what you're trying to do. If you're doing photo editing off of the library and you're working with huge 50 megapixel files, you might want a SSD. If you're viewing photos from your iPhone then a standard hard drive would be fine.

There's no particularly special process to run Photos externally. If you already had a Photos library (such as if you could salvage the one from your 2011 iMac) then you could just open it and Photos would take care of the rest. Otherwise, by default Photos will create a library on your main drive in the Photos directory. If you shut down Photos and move this directory, then open it, it'll continue to use that directory from its new location. I run my Photos library from an external drive, no problems.

To the point about backing up, note that Time Machine can back up external drives, and you can also configure it to back up only certain parts of an external drive. See this website for more information. If you're using photos in the cloud then you're arguably already backed up and protected against data loss from drive failure.
 
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alisalem

macrumors regular
Apr 12, 2013
122
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Mississauga, ON
Once you get your new Mac and setup iCloud, it should download a low-res version of your photos, mainly for thumbnail generation. You can change that in the Photos.app settings to enable downloading the full library to your Mac.

You can put your Photos library on an external drive. When you launch Photos for the first time, press and hold the Option key and it'll prompt you to create a new Photos library, which you can put on your external drive.

You don't really need an external SSD just for photos. However it's faster, more reliable and less noisy. You can always opt for a SATA SSD and put it in a USB 3.1 or Thunderbolt enclosure. I ended up buying a 2TB Crucial SSD for a really good price on Amazon Prime Day and put it in this enclosure which has been running great for the past couple of days. I'm getting about 460 MB/sec write and 510 MB/sec read which is like 4 times faster than a mechanical hard drive.
 

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mikehalloran

macrumors 68000
Oct 14, 2018
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would recommend either CarbonCopyCloner or SuperDuper to create and maintain such backups.
He always does. Not an issue here.
You can always opt for a SATA SSD and put it in a USB 3.1 or Thunderbolt enclosure.
A ridiculous waste of money.

A SATA SSD runs the same speed no matter what enclosure. 3.0, 3.1 over USB-C, a Samsung T5... There's only one $339Thunderbolt 3 enclosure for SATA III drives so that's not an issue and a TB2 SATA enclosure to a TB2-TB3 adapter gets back to ridiculous @ $300. Anyway, a SATA III SSD is slower than any of the above—it's the speed bottleneck.

This $9.09 enclosure is fast enough — or rather no slower than anything else.
https://www.amazon.com/Inateck-Encl...sd+dock+usb+3&qid=1563578698&s=gateway&sr=8-8

If you want to find out that I'm right about the speeds being identical, order one of these. Run a large file transfer through the 3.0 and 3.1 port (comes with both cables). 50GB will convince you.
https://www.amazon.com/Plugable-10G...+dock+usb+3.1&qid=1563578871&s=gateway&sr=8-2

The Crucial MX500 is as fast as any other SATA III SSD and has a 5 year warranty. I've had to send in older, discontinued MX300 SSDs under warranty and have been getting MX500s in return (you must save the box).
$207 for 2TB.
https://www.amazon.com/Crucial-MX500-500GB-NAND-Internal/dp/B078C515QL/ref=sr_1_2?keywords=crucial+mx500&qid=1563579230&s=gateway&sr=8-2&th=1

There are a very few NVMe over TB3 enclosures such as the Samsung X5. Those are as fast as the bus speed of a 2017–19 iMac but you pay for that speed ($800 for 2TB). Not needed if photo storage is the goal.
 
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alisalem

macrumors regular
Apr 12, 2013
122
95
Mississauga, ON
A ridiculous waste of money.

A SATA SSD runs the same speed no matter what enclosure. 3.0, 3.1 over USB-C, a Samsung T5... There's only one $339Thunderbolt 3 enclosure for SATA III drives so that's not an issue and a TB2 SATA enclosure to a TB2-TB3 adapter gets back to ridiculous @ $300. Anyway, a SATA III SSD is slower than any of the above—it's the speed bottleneck.

You're right about a Thunderbolt enclosure being a waste, however how you connect a USB 3.1 Gen 2 to the iMac will have an impact (whether through USB or USB-C). Even though the iMac's 5Gbps USB 3 port should be enough for a SATA SSD, that wasn't the case for me. Here's the difference between using the enclosure I linked above plugged into 2 different ports in the 2019 iMac (1st is a Thunderbolt port, 2nd is USB). It's a minor speed bump, but I'll take it.
 

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mikehalloran

macrumors 68000
Oct 14, 2018
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You're right about a Thunderbolt enclosure being a waste, however how you connect a USB 3.1 Gen 2 to the iMac will have an impact (whether through USB or USB-C). Even though the iMac's 5Gbps USB 3 port should be enough for a SATA SSD, that wasn't the case for me. Here's the difference between using the enclosure I linked above plugged into 2 different ports in the 2019 iMac (1st is a Thunderbolt port, 2nd is USB). It's a minor speed bump, but I'll take it.
No it won’t. I’ve done the bench tests to prove it.

Unfortunately, I can’t just search my posts to give you a link.

If you found a difference, there’s something wrong with your setup or the way you tested.
 
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alisalem

macrumors regular
Apr 12, 2013
122
95
Mississauga, ON
No it won’t. I’ve done the bench tests to prove it.

Unfortunately, I can’t just search my posts to give you a link.

If you found a difference, there’s something wrong with your setup or the way you tested.

There is if you see the screenshots I posted. It could always be the enclosure. It's not an expensive one anyway, so I'm happy it connects via USB-A and C.
 
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alisalem

macrumors regular
Apr 12, 2013
122
95
Mississauga, ON
Apparently you don’t understand that the issue is not that 3.1 is faster.

Why is 3.0 slower? It shouldn’t be.

I'm not contradicting your logic. I'm aware of the fact that USB 3.0 has a higher bandwidth than what SATA SSDs are capable of, therefore using a faster interface is a waste. But "in my case" there's a speed gain when I used used the Thunderbolt port, which I told you could be enclosure or cable related.

Not really sure why you're taking the matter to heart.
[doublepost=1563586731][/doublepost]My enclosure came with 2 cables, a USB-C to USB-A and C to C.
 
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TVreporter

macrumors 6502a
Original poster
Mar 11, 2012
611
727
Near Toronto
Sorry for the bump but just setting up my new iMac which arrived today (been great so far!)

I launched Photos and it seems iCloud is downloaded to the Mac... but when I open a photo there's always a short delay like it's still loading from the internet (don't have the fastest connection).

What step(s) am I missing to ensure the full resolution photos are back on the drives and I can run Photos off them and not through the cloud per se?

How can I tell if the full resolutions have been re-downloaded from the cloud?

My photo/video collection is about 24,000 - guess I should wait until everything gets indexed on initial boot up of the Mac and Photos?
 
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alisalem

macrumors regular
Apr 12, 2013
122
95
Mississauga, ON
Go to Photos preferences and enable "iCloud Photos" as well as "Download Originals to this Mac".
 

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