Practicalities of a 128GB SSD in a Mac Pro?

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by msmth928, Nov 18, 2011.

  1. msmth928 macrumors regular

    Jun 3, 2009
    Is it practical using a 128GB SSD in a Mac Pro?

    I was thinking about getting the Crucial M4 128GB, and using it mainly for the OS and other files I use frequently, and keeping things like photos/videos/other documents etc on a separate 500GB disk - so basically half of my home folder would be on the SSD and half on the 500GB disk. How would I go about setting that up? Am I just asking for trouble?

    Also, would my time machine disk (a 3rd 640GB drive) back up both my SSD and the 500GB drive? (Again how would I set that up?)

    Thanks for any help!
  2. P Mentior macrumors regular

    Sep 20, 2008
    I can't give you specific answers for running this set-up in OS X but I run something similar on my windows rig and it works really well. I found that it is actually quite hard to fill up my 120GB SSD with software, I keep my media and other stuff like that on separate drives. As for splitting up you home folder to multiple drives I'm sure there is a way, maybe someone else can give you those answers.
  3. thekev macrumors 604


    Aug 5, 2010
    Partitioning your backup drive isn't really a good idea and that is the only way you can do this. You want to split up your home folder so the SSD and HDD in the end won't be one volume. You could put your data on the other drive and point everything to it. I'm not sure how to get the desktop to navigate there, but it wouldn't take long to navigate via finder window.

    A 640 GB backup drive isn't going to do it for two volumes.

    @P Mentior you want some free space on drives to ensure good long term performance. This is the same with SSDs even though the reasons are different.
  4. Odd macrumors newbie


    Aug 30, 2011
    I put the system, applications and most of user/Library on a 128GB Intel SSD, symlinking everything else to the HD. I do find that it's a bit small for this, but manageable. I cloned the disk with ccc (or superduper), but kept the full installation on the HD, so in effect I have another fully functioning installation of OS X as a backup solution.
    I used Terminal and ln -s to create the necessary symlinks. There's been no problem with this whatsoever.
    I ditched Time Machine for Crashplan, so I can't answer that one. Although I had to reconfigure my backup sets in Crashplan, as it does not follow symlinks. I expect Time Machine will behave similarly, but with less flexibility.

    Just try it, but don't delete anything from your current installation yet. If things go sour you can always boot holding the option key, select your old installation and start over again.
  5. Loa macrumors 68000


    May 5, 2003

    Of course it's possible, it's pretty easy, and your partitioned back-up will be perfectly safe. The only harder problem is splitting your Home folder. Moving it to your HD is easy, but actually splitting it so that parts of it are on the SSD and parts of it are on the HD is the hard part.

    As Odd said, you can try it easily. Install your empty SSD, and clone (using an app like Carbon Copy Cloner) everything to it except your Home folder. Don't do it using the Finder, as you will be missing a lot of invisible items.

    Then boot your Mac using the SSD, even though there are no users on it. Once you're there, create a user just so you can boot, and give it the name of your old username. Once your logged in with that user (it will be an empty user), go to Accounts, in System preferences. If you hold Option and right-click on your name, an advanced pane will appear, allowing you to change your Home Folder's location. Select your original Home folder on your SSD, save your changes and reboot.

    All the OS and the apps will be on the SSD, and your original Home folder will be on your HD.

    From there, you can indeed partition a 640GB into two back-up partitions and safely back them up.

    If you want to have "some" items from your home folder on the SSD, you need to use hard links, and I wouldn't know how to do that.

    Good luck,

  6. DeeEss, Nov 19, 2011
    Last edited: Nov 19, 2011

    DeeEss macrumors 6502a

    Jan 17, 2011
    It's practical and fine.

    I have much the same set up.

    My boot disk is 100GB OWC Mecury Pro.

    I have another for a working drive. It only needs to be small so I can work fast on current projects.

    Then I have 12tb of storage in RAID0 that it gets moved to when the project is complete.

    A boot drive is typically 40-80GB so you would still have 40GB for working space which is plenty if you are storing off on another drive.

    As for Time Machine it just sees all the volumes on your computer so it will automatically back it up by default. If you don't want to back anything up just go into preferences and set up an exclusion. It's simple to do.
  7. AlteMac macrumors regular


    Jul 21, 2011
    New York suburb
    Always a good idea - if feasible - to separate data from OS and apps. I run one SSD with OS and apps, then a drive with current data, one with archived data (not really archive but stuff I need less frequently). Then there is a drive with SL on one partition, and a backup of the OS drive on another. Time machine is external. There are also external data backups. Call me insane but I don't worry too much about crashes.
  8. yomibro macrumors regular

    Feb 24, 2008
    My boot drive is a SSD that has the OS, apps, User folders and iTunes files, have a second hd for Bootcamp and a third hd for non-essential stuff like VM's, EyeTV recordings and other downloads that I don't use frequently but still use TM to back it up.
  9. P Mentior macrumors regular

    Sep 20, 2008
    Sorry if you my post wasn't clear enough. I meant that if you just use a 120GB SSD to install programs and not store media than that is most likely plenty of space. My 120GB SSD still has almost 70GB free as I keep my media elsewhere.
  10. msmth928 thread starter macrumors regular

    Jun 3, 2009
    Thanks for the replies everyone. So to clarify a few things...

    Will timemachine back up more than one disk?

    Yes (as stated in this thread). I actually tried this after posting this thread, and TM picked up the additional disk and automatically backed up its contents.

    Is it possible to split up the home folder across two drives?

    (In case it's worth noting, I'll actually be doing a clean Lion install, and will just copy stuff over from the TM backup and reinstall programs - in fact I recently did this.)

    I'm still not sure about this - are you guys saying this isn't possible? What I really like about my current set up is that new finder windows open in my home folder, so basically all my stuff is there. I have dragged some of my most used folders into the left pane (and know you can do this for folders on any HD) but I really like all my files and folders being listed in the home folder.

    Would there be anyway to replicate that? Perhaps by making the folders aliases or symbolic links? So it gives the illusion that all my files are in one place?

    So on the 500GB disk I'd have folders, called Documents, Downloads, Dropbox, Movies, Music, Pictures, Public (etc) and on the SSD OS disk they'd be in the home folder too, but actually point to the folders of the same name on the 500GB disk. I'd keep the .Library folder and any other commonly used/projects folders on the SSD.

    Would that be possible/easy/the best way to go about it? Are there any other suggestions on how to set this can of set-up up? Thanks in advance!
  11. DeeEss macrumors 6502a

    Jan 17, 2011
    Yes, you can separate your home folder without problems. I have done this. You are correct, you create a symbolic link. You can find how to do this by googling it.

    For example of you just want to move your mail folder to another location, as I have done, to save room on your SSD then you create a symbolic link for it. it then links to another folder elsewhere on your system.

    FWIW You can also change the location of your whole home folder in preferences>user>advanced.
  12. msmth928 thread starter macrumors regular

    Jun 3, 2009
    Thanks. I'm 90% convinced to do it now :D

    Btw I just checked my mail folder now you mention it.. think mine's ok to leave there as it's only 1.8GB.
  13. GoCubsGo macrumors Nehalem


    Feb 19, 2005
    I use a 160 gb and I have 75 gb free. I would not want anything smaller than 128 gb. I love having an SSD in my MP. I doubt I'll ever want anything else now.
  14. Bwa macrumors 6502

    Jun 20, 2007
    Boston & San Jose
    You can point your home directory outside of /Users/name by going to SysPrefs > Accounts, right click the account, go to Advanced, and you can change the path.

    I did this when I put an SSD into my Mac Pro this week. My home directory is now /Volumes/otherdrive/Users/name. The only app that seems to be annoyed by this is Dropbox, but it's not fatal, Dropbox just doesn't look in the user home directory properly (or it is storing a hard path after doing so the first time).
  15. msmth928 thread starter macrumors regular

    Jun 3, 2009
    My reasoning for leaving the home folder's system/important files (such as Library/.ssh/mail/dropbox etc) was so that I get the most out of the SSD - as I guess those files will be accessed frequently by the OS.

    I'm sortof thinking moving the entire home folder will negate some of the benefits - what do you reckon?
  16. Bwa macrumors 6502

    Jun 20, 2007
    Boston & San Jose
    Of course -- it is a memory hierarchy after all. :) The disk only exists to support what cannot be found in the filesystem buffer cache in RAM (ignoring the need for permanent storage). The main I/O pattern SSD solves is the speed of seek, which in turns enables fast I/O throughput for small activities. With rotating disk, the longer seek cost is offset a bit when doing larger I/O payloads because once the disk has done the read or pushed the write, it's actually pretty quick.

    So small files (or large files that are partially read/written) that are hit a lot are the files you want on SSD. As you mention, some of those files in home will fit this characteristic.

    So yes, if you are comfortable and see a good path to slice up your home dir, why not? The only downside is more to manage. For me, I have over 3 TB of crap in my home directory, so I didn't go there. :)

    Anyway, you can't go wrong. I just did my SSD install this week and plan to install a 2nd one shortly.
  17. msmth928 thread starter macrumors regular

    Jun 3, 2009
    Yeah that makes sense. All I need now is the 'correct' way to restore files from a TimeMachine backup (posted a thread about it here).

    How did you do yours? Did you need to restore anything from a TM backup? I'm thinking rather than restore to replace folders directly, I might need to restore to desktop first then move them into the appropriate folders (to get around the permissions problem I was getting).

    Any tips appreciated!
  18. Bwa macrumors 6502

    Jun 20, 2007
    Boston & San Jose
    I've done a lot of full recoveries from Time Machine back-ups. The best way seems to be to do it with the Migration Assistant.

    What I ended up doing here was:

    1. Install SSD
    2. Install OS X onto SSD
    3. When Migration Assistant comes up ("Transfer Info from another Mac/Time Machine"), there's an option to transfer data from another volume in the Mac. Since I had my RAID attached, I just went into that volume and selected my settings, apps, etc and de-selected my user folder.
    4. Sit back and grin. Or go eat some lunch.
  19. msmth928 thread starter macrumors regular

    Jun 3, 2009
    Does the migration assistant let you select *only* the folders you want to copy over? Or does it always migrate your settings etc (which I'd rather it not do - as I want a clean/fresh install).

    I might do some dummy runs with the disks I have at the mo.
  20. Bwa macrumors 6502

    Jun 20, 2007
    Boston & San Jose
    You get some granularity. You don't have to copy settings.

    However, I will say I've done it dozens of times on a bunch of machines in the last 6 yrs and it's been rock solid for me. I buy 2+ new Macs per year on average.

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