Setting up my SSD

Discussion in 'iMac' started by lbeck, Sep 22, 2010.

  1. lbeck macrumors 6502

    lbeck

    Joined:
    Dec 5, 2009
    #1
    I'm going to install a 120gb SSD in my 27" iMac core i7. Currently I have a 2TB Hitatchi drive installed. I would like to install OSX as well as all my apps on the SSD and then keep all my user files on the 2TB drive. I'm trying to figure out the best way to get this set up once I install the SSD.

    Right now I have all data, apps and OSX on the 2TB drive. Here's what I'd like to do. Once I install my SSD I'm going to do a fresh install of OSX and my apps. Then I'd like to remove OSX and apps from my 2TB drive and only keep my user files on it. My questions are ...

    1. What's the best way to remove OSX from my 2TB drive? Do I have to erase the disc and then load all my user files once its been erased.

    2. Also, is it ok if I keep OSX and all my apps on the 2B drive as well as my user files but still boot from the SSD? I would only be accessing my user files on the 2TB drive but wonder if I can still keep the OS and apps installed at the same time. Assuming I could but it would kind of be a waste of space, right?

    3. Once I get both SSD and 2TB drive set up how I want them, I need to regularly back both of them up using CCC. I have a 3TB external drive that I backup to. Will I need to create 2 partitions on it, one for the SSD and one for the 2TB? I would like the SSD partition to be bootable incase the drive ever fails I wont miss a beat. I'm assuming to back both of them up I would need to create separate partitions on my external drive, one for the SSD and one for the 2TB.

    Any help/answers are appreciated, let me know if my knowledge is incorrect. Thanks!
     
  2. symbology macrumors regular

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    Aug 4, 2010
    #3
  3. wirelessness macrumors 6502

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    Jun 20, 2010
    #4
    I'm thinking of adding a third....but that would probably be 3x as difficult :)

    It's not that hard, just read the tutorials and have a good clean well lit area to work with the right tools. Label the cables that you disconnect w/ tape or stickers to make it easier.
     
  4. tigereat macrumors regular

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    Dec 23, 2009
    #5
  5. flatfoot macrumors 65816

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    Aug 11, 2009
    #6
    1. No need to erase the whole disk. You can just erase everything except your user folder off the 2TB drive; you do that after installing OSX on the SSD and when you're booted into that one, of course.There are some hidden files/folders on the top level (beside /Users, /Applications ...); you'll have to delete those, too.
    I would use a temporary user account to perform these tasks from.
    Make sure you get yourself some guide on how to reintegrate your user folder into the new installation before you start off with anything

    2. I wouldn't keep the OSX installation on the data drive. At best, that calls for trouble.

    3. I'm not familiar with CCC (using Time Machine myself) but I guess you'll have to create 2 partitions.
     
  6. lbeck thread starter macrumors 6502

    lbeck

    Joined:
    Dec 5, 2009
    #7
    Thanks for the info everyone. I'm perfectly comfortable with installing a SSD on my own, I know OWC says its difficult but they also set up a program so they can do it for you. Hmmm, coincidence? I think not. If you have no experience with computer hardware then dont do it, but I'm certain it will be ok, I've read through tutorials and feel its no problem.

    About my original question ... Flatfoot .... do you know of a guide that will give me the info about reintegrating my user folder? I didn't realize I would need to do that. I thought I could just remove everything but my user folder and all would be ok. Can you elaborate on that?

    Anyone else know about what he's referring to?
     
  7. lbeck thread starter macrumors 6502

    lbeck

    Joined:
    Dec 5, 2009
    #8
  8. HobeSoundDarryl macrumors 603

    HobeSoundDarryl

    Joined:
    Feb 8, 2004
    Location:
    Hobe Sound, FL (20 miles north of Palm Beach)
    #9
    I basically put everything on the Apple SSD except my entire home folder, which I have on the 2TB internal. I did this because of the belief that you want to write infrequently to the SSD, but enjoy it's faster read speeds. Set up is extremely simple this way.

    1. open preferences, accounts
    2. right click your account and select the "advanced options" menu that appears
    3. in advanced option select "choose" next to "home directory" and then select the location where you home directory is located. In how you might do it (migrating everything but home from the internal to your new SSD), it might already be pointing to the right location.

    In my case, Apple shipped the iMac with everything installed on the SSD, including the home folder. So I had to move it to the 2TB internal, and then use the above to tell OS X where it was newly located.

    This has worked flawlessly ever since. Best I can tell, I'm hardly ever writing to the SSD, but all the stuff involving bigger reads (booting, applications, etc) are reading from the SSD. I think the only time the SSD gets a write is when a new application or an update is installed (no Safari cache, no Mail messages, no library support files/temp files, new photos in iPhotos write to the 2TB, new media added to iTunes writes to the 2TB, etc).

    I also partitioned the SSD to install Windows 7 via bootcamp on it too. It also screams at read speeds (I've never seen windows boot that fast).

    Things seem to work just fine this way, and have been for more than 30 days since I've owned the new iMac.
     
  9. lbeck thread starter macrumors 6502

    lbeck

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    Dec 5, 2009
    #10
    Thanks for the tip. The link I posted above supposedly does not work, I read through the comments and numerous people had issues with it.
     
  10. flatfoot macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Aug 11, 2009
    #11
    This will only work if you used Migration Assistant to move your OSX to the SSD.

    If you do a clean install, do the following:

    1. Before installing on your SSD, go to System Prefs --> Accounts, "open" the padlock, right-click your account and hit "Advanced...".

    2. Drag&drop the user ID (3 digits) to a USB thumb drive so you get a text clipping of it.

    3. Do the same with the UUID.

    4. Install OS X on the SSD and create an account named "temp" or something like that (do not use your old user name here).

    5. From the temp account (booted off the SSD, of course), create an account with your old user name; make sure you make it admin.

    6. Right-click that account in your Accounts Prefs.

    7. Drag&drop the user ID and UUID you saved to your thumb drive to the according destinations, replacing what's in the boxes.

    8. Hit the "Choose..." button next to the "user folder" field and choose your old home folder.

    9. Hit "OK" and you can log-in to your old/new account and delete the temp account.

    Side-note: Before step 8, you can drag your old home folder out of the old "Users" folder if you want to.

    EDIT: As always: Make sure you have a backup of all your important data before doing this.
     
  11. lbeck thread starter macrumors 6502

    lbeck

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    Dec 5, 2009
    #12
    thanks flatfoot! What do you think about what HobeSoundDarryl said above?
     
  12. flatfoot macrumors 65816

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    Aug 11, 2009
    #13
    That will only work if you use Migration Assistant to get OSX to the SSD instead of doing a clean install.
     
  13. lbeck thread starter macrumors 6502

    lbeck

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    Dec 5, 2009
    #14
    Am I able to use migration assistant to only move the OSX and apps?
     
  14. flatfoot macrumors 65816

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    Aug 11, 2009
    #15
    Yupp. :)
     
  15. lbeck thread starter macrumors 6502

    lbeck

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    Dec 5, 2009
    #16
    Although, its probably best to do a fresh install of everything on the SSD. I'm just worried about moving my user folder, dont want it to cause any issues.
     
  16. HobeSoundDarryl macrumors 603

    HobeSoundDarryl

    Joined:
    Feb 8, 2004
    Location:
    Hobe Sound, FL (20 miles north of Palm Beach)
    #17
    Guys, I didn't use migration assistant. I just moved the home folder to the 2TB and executed the steps referenced in my prior post. It does work fine. I can't recall for sure, but I think I did follow the steps in that Pirillo blog to do this.

    Yes, some comments in there claim it does not work. But many others claim it does work. Go into the bootcamp section on this or Apple's site, and you'll see many comments of no problem installing bootcamp, but some people having problems. Read a little more and you'll see many of the problems come from not following directions.

    I haven't had my setup for much longer than the new iMac release dates, so maybe some problems will show up. But so far, everything works exactly fine. I make my living on my Mac and use it for much of every day. No problems at all with this setup to date.

    The OP should set up his system however he wishes, but this does seem like a good option. Given the concern for writing too frequently to SSDs, it seemed most obvious to get the frequent write stuff (that pretty much all lives within the home folder) onto the hard drive, while leaving the rarely write stuff on the SSD. I was somewhat surprised that it arrived with everything installed on the SSD. Maybe Apple has no worries about frequent writes to the SSD?
     
  17. lbeck thread starter macrumors 6502

    lbeck

    Joined:
    Dec 5, 2009
    #18
    I definitely want everything but my user folder on the SSD. All apps and OSX on the SSD and then all my user data on my 2TB drive.

    My main reason for wanting it this way is because my SSD is not large enough to hold my user folder so it has to be on a different drive.

    I make a living from my mac as well so I know what you mean. I just want to be careful ont to mess anything up. Maybe I'll call apple to confirm.
     
  18. HobeSoundDarryl macrumors 603

    HobeSoundDarryl

    Joined:
    Feb 8, 2004
    Location:
    Hobe Sound, FL (20 miles north of Palm Beach)
    #19
    Then, I would suggest you consider trying it, and setting up a solid backup like Time Capsule (or regularly backing up your drives with other tools). Time Capsule really is a great invisible solution. I've attached a huge drive to the AEBS and it does all the backups. I've gone "back in time" a few times to make sure it's working, and have gained confidence in that solution.

    If my system starts getting flaky, I can always recreate without having lost anything. But my guts say that the option wouldn't be available if it didn't work. And it has worked well for about 45 days now.
     
  19. lbeck thread starter macrumors 6502

    lbeck

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    Dec 5, 2009
    #20
    I'll try it out, it should work since they give you the option in preferences. I have a 3tb external drive that I backup to using CCC.
     
  20. noire anqa macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Aug 20, 2010
    #21
    I concur, i simply move my user folder to another drive (copy via finder) and change the pointer in system preferences. i've been using this procedure for years (separation of os and user directories) with no issue.

    yes, but the frequently used files are the ones that see greatest benefit from the ssd! your proposal is akin to buying a sports car and only using it to pick up groceries from the supermarket!

    furthermore this assertion that a user folder contains the lions share of frequently written files is patently false. as an example the system folder contains many logs that are written to far more frequently, the os is constantly writing to files in it's system directories - this is why it's not recommended to run an os from a usb stick for fear of premature burnout (think of the size and transient nature of swap files).

    despite this fact, and since flash cells are far more durable in an ssd, people use ssd's for their boot drives - this is where the greatest advantage lies. if you can fit everything you own on an ssd - bully for you, otherwise fit the most frequently accessed to see the greatest gain.

    i'm using 2 ssds, one for my os, the other for my user directory. by the time one burns out (likely 5 years) the ssd market will have progressed so far as to make the point moot. additionally the advantage i gained over those years is spectacular.

    that said, yes the op should set up their computer as they wish! that much goes without saying. though try not to be excessively influenced by a protectionist attitude - use the technology for it's maximum benefit *now*, don't worry excessively about prolonging it's life - experience should show you that in the realm of technology any such motivations are a fallacy.
     
  21. lbeck thread starter macrumors 6502

    lbeck

    Joined:
    Dec 5, 2009
    #22
    Thanks for your input. I'm going to install my SSD, do a fresh install of OSX and my apps on the SSD. Once I do that I'm going to erase my 2TB drive and start fresh. Then move my newly created user folder from my SSD to my 2TB drive via system preferences and unload all my user data from my external backup drive. So both SSD and 2TB drive will be fresh. OSX and apps on SSD and my user folder on my 2TB.

    All sounds good to me!
     
  22. noire anqa macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Aug 20, 2010
    #23
    This is a good idea. When i used to own only one SSD i would store my OS upon it, and my User folder on an external HDD - much as you've described.

    However, i didn't move my home folder reference in system preferences as suggested earlier - i kept everything as normal (User folder on the SSD). Instead i copied every folder from my home folder, except the Library and Desktop folders, to the external drive. At that point i deleted those folders (that is, all folders except the Library and Desktop folders, from the home directory on the SSD). In their place i simply added shortcuts that pointed to their counterparts upon the HDD!

    The great advantage of this method is that the Library folder - containing all your preferences, and application support files - benefits from the speed of the SSD. This improves your application load times as well as application close times! (remember an app has to save its preferences upon quit, and if those preferences are stored on an HDD then you have to wait till they're found and modified). This additionally improves your login times.

    Continuing: I left the desktop folder on the SSD because any project that im working on at this very instant resides on the Desktop - by nature of the fact it's my current project - i want to be able to access required files at the maximum possible speed! (also Finder doesn't like it if i move the Desktop folder to a linked directory).

    Lastly, if you do it this way, even if you don't plug in your external hdd, you can still log in. The other method will prevent you from doing so. Imagine your external HDD crashes (perish the thought!). It's great that you have a backup - but pretty annoying if you now can't actually log in to be able to use it. If you keep your Library and Desktop folders on the SSD you'll always be able to log in - even if your HDD crashes and your other user folders die with it.

    i've learned these things the hard way unfortunately, hopefully they help you though!
     
  23. lbeck thread starter macrumors 6502

    lbeck

    Joined:
    Dec 5, 2009
    #24
    Hmmm, interesting. Although, my other 2TB drive is an internal drive, not external.

    I'd prefer to move my entire user folder and not just parts of it. But what you're saying makes sense. I definitely need to move, photos, movies, music and then my work folder that contains all my projects. I do plan on keeping my current design projects on the SSD to take advantage of the speed.

    Maybe I dont need to move my user folder at all. I could just move my photos, music, movies and work folder on the 2TB drive and keep all other stuff on the SSD.

    If I do that, will iTunes and iPhoto know where I've stored my images and music? Or will it always look for them in my home folder?
     
  24. noire anqa macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Aug 20, 2010
    #25
    If that's all you *need* to move then thats all i'd recommend moving. You've no doubt dropped some cash on this SSD - get the most for your money!

    If you hold down the Option (aka Alt) key as soon as you launch iTunes or iPhoto it pops up a small dialog that allows you to point it to a library location. Simply do so once for each, pointing them to the respective locations on the 2TB drive. Thats it - from now on they'll load the libraries from the 2TB drive. easy as could be!

    I use one SSD for the OS, the other for my Home folder, and an external 4TB drive for my photos, music and movies .. so pretty similar to what you're trying to achieve here.
     

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