Seeking Advice on Hard Drive upgrade

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by Phrygian, Aug 25, 2012.

  1. Phrygian, Aug 25, 2012
    Last edited: Aug 25, 2012

    Phrygian macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Nov 26, 2011
    #1
    I currently have a early 2008 (3,1 i believe) mac pro 2x2.8 ghz quad-core intel xeon Mac Pro with 14 GB of 800 mhz ddr2 fb-dimm ram. I currently use mac OSX lion 10.7.4 It is still using the stock hard drive however. The stock hard drive is 320 gb 7200 sata with 8mb cache.

    I recently purchased a very inexpensive new harddrive:
    HGST Deskstar 3.5-Inch 1TB 7200RPM SATA III 6Gbps 32MB

    I've never even used up my full 320mb since purchasing my mac pro in 2008 but i was starting to get close and i want to finally bootcamp windows 7. I've been told that performance (for games in particular) is better if "half the drives space is unused". I've also been told that the cache difference on the two harddrives is almost irrelevant given how much ram i have (though outdated... wish it was better quality ram).

    I have 2 options:
    1-Clear all programs off my current hard drive bootcamp windows onto it, and install the new 1tb hardrive into slot 2 and use it for applications and programs. (if i go with this option... i'd probably want to just do a clean install of OSX first... perhaps i can do that while upgrading to mountain lion?

    2- remove the stock drive and just install the new 1tb drive. install leopard onto it, go through many upgrades up to mountain lion.. bootcamp window 7, and reformat the stock drive for w/e use may come up later.

    Wondering which one you guys think is the best way to go.

    Edit: oh and if Cindori happens by this post, does your Radeon 6870 package work with mountain lion? I also purchased the sapphire 6870 and plan to upgrade to it once i have finished with my hard drive upgrade. Once i'm boot camped i figure i'll run steam through windows anyway, but be nice to have the DVD player functional on mac... though again probably just use VLC for that as well...
     
  2. deconstruct60 macrumors 604

    Joined:
    Mar 10, 2009
    #2
    ,
    You also have option 3.

    Option 3. Just plain flat out retire the old disk. If the drive is from 2008 and you have used it relatively aggressively for 4 years, it is probably close to retirement age. If that drive's manufacturer warranty is 3 years then 4-5 years is getting your money's worth. If it is 5 years then it is conditional on use. It isn't really a good idea to use a drive right up until it fails; at least if your data has any value. It is rather risky to keep it as a "emergency replacement drive" when this drive itself may be likely in need of a "emergency replacement drive".

    It would be one thing if hadn't bought a suitable replacement drive, but you have.

    What you should do it try to get the S.M.A.R.T. data on total stop/start, spindle start/stop cycles on the drive. Also the number of errors dealt with. If has had relatively lightweight usage for last 4+ years then can keep as "standby" disk or as a Windows boot disk. Otherwise, it is due for a date with the appropriate electronics recycler.


    > I've been told that performance (for games in particular) is better if "half the drives space is unused"

    This is a waste. These days if interested in throwing away half of the storage capacity of a HDD, then it is much better off just buying a SDD with 35-50% of the capacity.

    Access to the "first, outer half" of the HDD tracks is faster than the inner tracks. So if you made the HDD's head move less and confine it to the fastest tracks, you get faster average access. The problem is that even the first, most outermost track is substantially slower than anywhere on a SSD. So throwing away space is not as effective as just straight up buying more expensive $/GB that is usually almost 10x faster.


    If want to "short stroke" your drive you should look into what are the "space hogs" on your current disk. For some folks this will be the iPhotos/iTunes. For others this will be some other kind of either large bulky data and a huge collection of medium sized data. The speed bump here is relatively minor if the bulk data is infrequently accessed, but it does set up later moving to either a 3rd HDD or moving the OS/Apps/user accounts to a SSD. [ If need fast access to the bulk data the need two (or more) drives ]

    Moving the applications away from the OS and user home directories is possible, but not particularly desirable. Most Applications can easily deal with data located on a different internal drive.

    Since have a 320GB drive now I'll use example of half of that is this "bulk data" : 160GB. If it is more can adjust.

    Put the new drive in sled 2 and partition it 416GB and 584GB . The first is the OS/Apps/User accounts and the rest for bulk data. If need to drop down to just one disk can 'borrow' some from both partitions for one in the "middle" between those two for Windows and format it NTFS. For example, 320 GB : 224GB : 456GB.

    That puts the two OS volumes on the "faster half" of the 1TB drive.

    At that point if looking to go to mountain lion.

    1. download the installer but do not let it run.

    2. back up the original drive ( which also now includes the ML installer data).

    3. Copy the large, bulky data to the new "bulk" partition. Check that it copied OK (open some files ). Then delete the data (you have multiple back-ups at this point).

    4. Now run the installer and target the second drive's first partition. You can now use Migration Assistant to move the much smaller user account over along with Apps (if you wish).

    [the installer is going to put a 4th partition in for the ML recovery partition so will have a bit less than 320GB on the first one afterwards, but that is OK because there is extra room.]


    If going down to single drive you can now shutdown and move the new drive to sled 1 and remove the retired drive.

    If flipping first drive to Windows only BootCamp pretty sure it needs to stay in sled 1 at least until finish install. Windows and/or BootCamp is skittish about being installed on a secondary drive.
     
  3. Phrygian, Aug 25, 2012
    Last edited: Aug 25, 2012

    Phrygian thread starter macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Nov 26, 2011
    #3
    First off, I want to thank you for your response deconstruct60.

    Option 3 is perfectly ok with me, and makes a lot of sense. It was actually my first thought, but i started to think i was being wasteful.

    As far as SSD drives go, i completely agree with you about the speeds, but i didn't want to invest in one until the prices drop more. When i read your post i thought "maybe i could return it and get a 120gb ssd and use my stock hd for storage, but you also made the excellent point that i should probably just retire my stock hard drive. Perhaps in 6-8 months i will buy an SSD

    As for backing up files and such, I have an external hard drive for my docs and music and any other odd things. I've never used time machine, and just back up my school and music files manually. As far as programs go, i can easily just write down a list of what i have and re-download them all. I'm not using anything significant such as adobe CS atm.

    I also don't think i'll need to partition for bulk space, although its not a bad idea. I was under the impression that bootcamp will automatically create a partition, and i figured i would split the 1tb hard drive in half 50/50. I'm not sure if there is a significance to the 416GB and 584GB split but i'm going to go look that up :). If i partition the drive in advance, will bootcamp not attempt to partition on its own?

    I think i understand your instructions, but i'm not sure what you meant by borrowing from two partitions to make a third. Could i not just make 3 partitions in the first step? I've never partitioned a new hard drive so i'll have to look that up. I think i can also skip the step of backing up and copying files to the "bulk" partition, i.e. steps 2 and 3, since i have that information backed up on an internal drive.

    So i'm thinking that i can do the follow... please correct me if i'm wrong on any parts.

    1- put the 1 tb drive into sled 2 and partition it 3 ways. (not sure how this is done, but i'm hoping its relatively simple)

    2- download the ML installer

    3- Instal ML to the new drive (at this point my Mac Pro will be booting mountain lion from the 1tb drive in sled 2 instead of booting lion from sled 1?)

    4- use migration assistant to migrate my user account onto the 1tb drive in sled 2 with MT

    5- Shutdown, remove the drive in sled 1 and move the new 1tb drive in sled 2 into sled 1

    6- reboot and then put the windows 7 disk in and run boot camp


    Again, thank you all for the help:)
     
  4. phpmaven macrumors 68040

    phpmaven

    Joined:
    Jun 12, 2009
    Location:
    San Clemente, CA USA
    #4
    Prices on SSDs are already ridiculously low compared to the past. You can get a good 256GB one for under $200. I have the same box as you and I can tell you that putting a SSD in it will blow your mind with the increased performance, especially if you are still running the dog slow original hard drive it came with.
     
  5. Phrygian, Aug 25, 2012
    Last edited: Aug 25, 2012

    Phrygian thread starter macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Nov 26, 2011
    #5
    yea... honestly the max i can probably spend atm is around 100 bucks... assuming i did it would have to be a 120 since i'd have to buy the 11 dollar mount adapter so it could be slapped onto the sled.

    Your comment is making me consider it... but these upgrades i'm doing are only really meant to buy me another year tops on this computer. I'm hoping to do a new build by then, that would probably utilize the 6870 (might even get a second to crossfire but who knows), and then i have a feeling my bad boy will end up in my girlfriends envious embrace....

    I suppose a 120 would be enough for OSX/Windows/Microsoft office/chromeX2 and two games... and the rest can go on the 1tb.

    If i did, i'd probably go with
    This drive
    and a mounting.... although the OCW sled isn't compatible. sure there is something on the market tho.. apparently i can build my own http://www.macbidouille.com/articles/338/page8
     
  6. Phrygian, Aug 25, 2012
    Last edited: Aug 25, 2012

    Phrygian thread starter macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Nov 26, 2011
    #6
    Sigh...
    Dear Mr. phpmaven,

    My mac* loves you, my wallet does not :D

    I'm going to wait to do all my upgrades and buy a crucial m4 128. i considered returning my 1tb 7200 and buying the 248, but that will still be more expensive. I take it a simple 50/50 partition on the 128 at around 60/60 will do... simples a bit small for each, but it will be enough for the OS + a few key applications.

    Edit: honestly i feel like i should really get the 256 but it would be a big stretch to afford it atm. Does anyone have experience boot camping a 128 sdd with mountain lion and windows 7?
     
  7. deconstruct60 macrumors 604

    Joined:
    Mar 10, 2009
    #7
    A good thing to do is take a snapshot of your HDD S.M.A.R.T. usage and diagnostic data now. Then again once or twice before your 6-8 month limit is up to think about SSDs again. If you drive is much closer to retirement then may want to wait ( or buy two drives one SSD and one HDD ).

    As for backing up files and such, I have an external hard drive for my docs and music and any other odd things. I've never used time machine, and just back up my school and music files manually. As far as programs go, i can easily just write down a list of what i have and re-download them all. I'm not using anything significant such as adobe CS atm.

    I'm pretty sure BootCamp installatin process still lets the user choose the size of the Windows partition. It isn't necessarily just a automatic 50/50. It needs to be "big enough" so that don't run into a limit later. It also needs to be one of the first 3 on the disk ( for legacy reasons. )

    However, I think the installer is smart enough if it sees a NTFS partition already there it will ask if that's the one you have to use.

    The primary configuration that BootCamp installer is set up for is a single disk Mac where the disk as already been 100% HFS+ allocated and now need to carve out some space. If you are starting from a 100% unformatted drive ( or a drive with zero data on it) you Disk Utility will carve it up any way you want with multiple formats. In reality, all BootCamp does is use the command line interface to the core of Disk Utility anyway. :)

    1,000 - 416= 584 : that's were those two numbers come from. The 416 was just adding the assumed base of the OS/Apps/accounts , 160, and adding some elbow room of 256 so can grow the Apps , upgrades , and miscellaneous user account areas without running into limits. It is actually alot. But it is also ballpark of where a reasonable SSD will be in 2-3 years too.


    It has been a while since I did one, but I don't think so. For instance if you had a failed Windows partition that wanted to ovewrite that is a similar situation. It will stop and ask you to do things.

    Usually I work out partitions ahead time on paper first. Figure out how much one is and then figure out what are the sizes of the rest. Then I go to Disk Utility ( or some boot into a special environment tool like Gparted or one of the free basic tools ) and then move stuff around.

    If you have a blank disk one thing probably should try is just partition the thing 2 or 3 times using Disk Utility before you actually lay down what you want to have. When the disk is empty is quite easy to run 2-3 experiments to figure out how things work. When done with the experiments just erase the whole disk on lay down the final set up.

    That way later on you've got some experience with the tool in perhaps situations with tighter time constraints.

    Yes.


    You can't skip doing a backup before a new install. Just not a good practice. Even though the target is going to be another drive, bad things might happen (e.g., accidently point the installer at the wrong drive). It is always good to back up before upgrading the OS.

    The other reason

    Can just use Disk Utility. Select the drive (not one of the volumes/partition on it). There is a partition tab. Design away in that box. There is a little "+" to add and than can just move borders.

    One reason I recommend download and then back up is that eventually this ML installer is going to disappear. When Apple comes out with 10.9 the ability to get back to a 10.8 install will vanish just like the 10.7 installer has now vanished.

    You may be able to use the 10.8 recovery partition to get to server that is still doling out 10.8 bits later but the Mac App Store will probably block you. Usually most folks don't their recovery partition either.


    Yes. If going to keep bulk data mixed in with rest. At one point the Migration Assistant didn't allow fine grained moves (e.g., this user account but not these subfolders in the user account. ) That was the main motivator for the delete before move.
     
  8. Phrygian, Aug 25, 2012
    Last edited: Aug 25, 2012

    Phrygian thread starter macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Nov 26, 2011
    #8
    Thats the S.M.A.R.T. readout on my drive. However if I do purchase an SSD drive now, i'll probably just retire my drive anyway (and keep it as a back up if the SSD fails). If thats the case i'll obviously just go with 2 partitions on the SSD and use the 1 tb as the bulk drive.

    I had considered purchasing the crucial m4, however apparently another thread on the MR forum said that the people at crucial consider their drive not to be compatible with the 2008 3.1 mac pro... something about it being a sata II computer and the drive being Sata III i think. Edit: actually i found the reps response and they don't recommend their ssds with macs because of the brackets, which is pretty stupid.I didn't think that made any difference though, nor do i see why i would inform them of any of that if i needed to use the warranty...

    If i do go that root I think i'd be more inclined to just do a fresh instal and start with leopard and upgrade my way back up. Something about a fresh computer is super satisfying. That said i certainly appreciate the information and the knowledge, and i have no doubt it would be faster to instal mountain lion directly onto the SSD drive.

    Edit: and if that power-on hours readout is my usage in hex... i certainly do not turn my computer off very much... thats like 3.1 years....
     
  9. Phrygian, Aug 25, 2012
    Last edited: Aug 25, 2012

    Phrygian thread starter macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Nov 26, 2011
    #9
    Update:

    1) I have decided to go with a 256 ssd preferably.

    2) to inform people of an issue i found in my research, there is apparently a problem with sandisk sata III products when used in a mac pro using a sata II framework with the Nvidia sata controller. more info here:
    http://www.amazon.com/review/R3OU5W9BBYE4RM/ref=cm_cr_pr_viewpnt#R3OU5W9BBYE4RM

    3) My mac pro early 2008 3.1 uses an Intel ESB2 AHCI controller. Its 3 gigabit link and negotiation speeds, so its a sata 2 framework. If i use a sata 3 ssd drive and there are no issues with the controller, it should simply be hard capped at 300 MByte/sec transfer speeds... and thats where my understanding of this gets capped as well... har har.

    Anyway, i'm not sure what to get. the owc mercury sata II is 10 bucks cheaper than the sata III, but honestly those drives are priced abut 50 bucks more than i can get them off amazon. Does anyone have experience with sata II vs sata III drives in a early 2008 mac pro, or have any knowledge of ssd's that work well with a ESB2 AHCI controller? I also read something about pc users needing to set their bios to AHCI, but im not sure what significance that has when installing in a mac that uses EFI.

    What i'm really wondering is, given that i have an intel controller, would it be safer to go with an intel ssd, rather than say a crucial m4 or samsung 830? Does that make any difference in performance?
     
  10. phpmaven, Aug 26, 2012
    Last edited: Aug 26, 2012

    phpmaven macrumors 68040

    phpmaven

    Joined:
    Jun 12, 2009
    Location:
    San Clemente, CA USA
    #10
    The M4 is an excellent drive and I have one in my Mac Pro which as I mentioned before is the same model as yours. It's also a steal at $199.

    You mentioned something before about only keeping your Mac for another year or giving it to your girlfriend? I think you'll change your mind once you get SSDs in it. Mine has 20GB of RAM and with fast SSDs in it, it's still a great computer and is my main one I use all the time. The performance is great and everything loads up near instantaneously. I really have no motivation to buy anything new as I'm quite happy with it, and if you knew me you would know that it's really unusual for me to keep a computer for so long. I can afford to replace it if I wanted, but really don't feel I need to. Sure, a new one would be a little faster, but not enough for me to worry about.

    I should mention that I just went nuts and spent $800 on a OWC Mercury Accelsior 480GB SSD Card. I'm getting read/write speeds over 600mbps, but I was already quite happy with standard SSDs. But now I'm even happier.:D
     
  11. deconstruct60 macrumors 604

    Joined:
    Mar 10, 2009
    #11
    If the start/stop numbers are also in hex then you're disk has also spent a fair amount of time sleeping even while powered on. Given the a year of "off time" and lots of sleep time, this drive is probably suitable as a alternative, cold standby drive. There are no errors and doesn't appear to have been aggressively used.


    In the context of being a relatively expensive support cost, it isn't stupid. To a large extent what Crucial is officially saying is that they don't support putting the drive into contexts were they didn't plan for people to put the drive.

    The m4 was designed for 2.5" bays in laptops ( and some special desktop/servers with 2.5" bays) , relatively recent SATA III controllers, and Linux/Window BIOS booting boxes with ODDs. The last on that list for the firmware updaters they have which primarily just works as a bootable disk ISO. There is also somewhat of a design assumption that the OS file system supports and leverage TRIM at least in some cases.

    Can a knowledgeable user work around those issues to make the drive work? Yes. But the assumption there is that working with those kind of users and not typical "How do I do this?" , "What is another way of doing that?", and "My machine doesn't have that, what now? " users.
     
  12. Phrygian thread starter macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Nov 26, 2011
    #12
    Do you know if the 5000 hour bug on the m4 is fixed, or will i have to update the firmware when i purchase it?

    also, i'm probably going to want to enable trim using http://www.groths.org/?p=735 before I instal mountain lion or partition?
     
  13. phpmaven macrumors 68040

    phpmaven

    Joined:
    Jun 12, 2009
    Location:
    San Clemente, CA USA
    #13
    This is the first I've ever heard of the "5000 hour bug" but it appears to have been fixed by a firmware upgrade early this year.

    My understanding is that you don't need to worry about trim with the newer SSDs. I've never had any issues not having it enabled.

    ----------

    This is the first I've ever heard of the "5000 hour bug" but it appears to have been fixed by a firmware upgrade early this year.

    My understanding is that you don't need to worry about trim with the newer SSDs. I've never had any issues not having it enabled. In fact, I've read quite a few stories of people having issues when they tried to enable trim support.
     

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