Questions about external storage

Discussion in 'Mac mini' started by wmmfcr, Oct 31, 2018.

  1. wmmfcr macrumors newbie

    Nov 6, 2014
    Hello, all. I'm interested in updating my 2009 Mac Mini to the new, entry-level version, but I have some questions about external storage. I currently have a 1TB hybrid drive, mostly to house my photo collection. I know I can offload the library to external storage (TB/USB3) on the new Mini and just use the internal 128GB SSD for system files, etc. But...
    1. Does the external drive need to be SSD if it's just for accessing photos? Not editing or doing video work, just a place to park the Photos library. A platter HD would be much less expensive, and I would just make sure to buy a modern one with a fast interface, correct?
    2. If I want to back up the external drive to have a backup of my photos, can I just do that by connecting another drive to the Mini and running CarbonCopyCloner or something similar?

    Thanks in advance for the help!
  2. rmdeluca macrumors 6502

    Oct 30, 2018
    1. No it doesn't need to be SSD for archival purposes. Yes, platter drives are still cheaper and USB3 is more than enough for that purpose.

    2. You could make a second backup that way, sure. However, depending on your storage needs you really should consider making your secondary backup cloud based. Something like Apple's iCloud plan ($9.99/month for 2TB) is competitively priced compared to say DropBox or Amazon. After a year or so you would have paid what a cheaper second drive would cost but in return you never have to worry about losing the drive or it breaking. For backups, that type of peace-of-mind has intrinsic value, at least to me.
  3. wmmfcr thread starter macrumors newbie

    Nov 6, 2014
    Thanks for the quick reply! Glad to know I can save some money on the external HD, as long as it's USB3.

    As for cloud backup, my family shares an iCloud account including iCloud Photo Library, but I don't want ALL the photos on the Mini to be available on iPhones, etc. It'd just be too much to navigate through. I've never been clear since the launch of iCloud Photo Library about how to make a certain device receive all new photos from other devices, but not share/upload its own contents. I've lucked into having the Mini receive everything, but without uploading its own photos, and with iCloud Photo Library turned off. I'm hoping that doesn't break when I switch to the new Mini. Any help with that situation? :)
  4. rmdeluca macrumors 6502

    Oct 30, 2018
    Ah, gotcha.

    Help with the quirks of selectively enabling/disabling iCloud photo syncing for a single device? Sorry, not really - that might be better asked of someone at the Apple Store.

    However, now that I understand your situation a little better, maybe something like BackBlaze will give you the secondary backup you want without cluttering up your family shared photos? I can't personally speak to their service (I use SpiderOak personally), but for $50/year, unlimited storage and specific catering to your use case (backing up external storage to the cloud) they might be worth investigating:
  5. wmmfcr thread starter macrumors newbie

    Nov 6, 2014
    That is a great idea, thank you. I have heard of them before, but that would take the back-up part off my plate and I wouldn’t have to buy new hardware to do it. Thanks again for your help; I really appreciate it
  6. now i see it macrumors 68040

    Jan 2, 2002
    I think using iCloud to back up a terabyte worth of photos is a horrible idea. For one, it takes forever and ever and ever. And Two, it's a lame interface.

    Much better (in my opinion) to just get another separate independent hard drive and back up locally. If you're really paranoid, you could get one of those RAID hard drives.
  7. kevink2 macrumors 65816

    Nov 2, 2008
    I plan to put a drive in a USB-C enclosure for my "home" directory.
  8. bigpoppamac31 macrumors 68020

    Aug 16, 2007
    Are there a variety of USB-C enclosures nowadays?
  9. rmdeluca macrumors 6502

    Oct 30, 2018
    Ultimately whether it makes sense to do so is going to depend on use case. If you frequently churn through hundreds of GB of photos every month (say, like a professional photographer might) and you don't have a high upload speed, cloud backup is probably going to be unwieldy.

    No realistic amount of local RAID can prevent loss due to user error, software bugs or fire/flood/lightning. Cloud storage (especially services with automatic versioning) is pretty resilient to all of these.
  10. Fishrrman macrumors P6


    Feb 20, 2009
    I would:

    - pay a little extra and get the 256gb SSD instead of 128. Looking towards the future, 128gb is just "a little too small". Not that it isn't usable -- but things could "get tight" after a few years.

    - get an external USB3 1tb SSD to serve as my "primary external storage" (for the photo library).

    - get an external USB3 1tb platter-based HDD for "primary external BACKUP".

    - I'd also get an external USB3 256gb SSD to become my "internal BACKUP". Or, you could get a 128gb USB3 SSD. These are downright cheap. I just saw a 120gb 2.5" SATA SSD this morning at for $20, with free shipping (from

    Remember that if you keep your photo library on an external drive, you must also BACK UP that drive to ANOTHER drive. One copy of the data isn't enough.

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