ssd, hard drive, user folder

Discussion in 'iMac' started by cypress822, Jul 11, 2012.

  1. cypress822 macrumors regular

    Jun 11, 2012
    I will be buying a new iMac very soon with both 250gb ssd and 2tb hard drive. I have over 500gb of video and photos--so those will go to the hard drive. My question is should i just transfer the user folder to the hard drive...or just transfer the photo/imovie files over??

  2. McGordon macrumors member

    Dec 28, 2010
    If the rest of your user folder is fairly small, you could leave it on the SSD and get the benefit of SSD speed for all the smaller files in your home folder. You could put symlinks to your Pictures folder on your HD or just manage it manually if you like.

    A 250GB SSD should leave plenty room for some of your smaller files once the OS and Applications are installed.
  3. cypress822 thread starter macrumors regular

    Jun 11, 2012
    symlink?? Can you tell me about this more..never heard of one.

  4. spacedesign911 macrumors regular

    Jul 22, 2010
    Dublin, Ireland
    Im curious to know more too?
  5. dearlaserworks macrumors regular

    Apr 28, 2012
    Eastern Shore, USA
    You can tell iPhoto and/or iTunes to find your files on another drive without using symbolic links or other geeky tricks. When launching iPhoto or iTunes, simply hold down the option key and the apps will ask you where to find your libraries.
  6. cypress822 thread starter macrumors regular

    Jun 11, 2012
    Found this this the same thing?

    Article is below

    Using OS X with an SSD plus HDD setup
    JUN 21ST, 2011
    Solid-state drives (SSDs) are becoming commonplace, and the first time you use one as a boot drive, you realise why - they’re faster than hard drives to a ridiculous degree. The downside is they’re currently still very expensive compared to hard drives, such that only smaller capacities are currently affordable. Macs are now being offered with what I call ”mixed drive” configurations, including both a (small; often 256 GB) SSD and an HDD, and many people wonder how to make the most of this setup.

    I have two SSD-equipped machines here, including a mixed-drive iMac, and have recently configured it in what I believe is a good compromise setup to take advantage of SSD speed without sacrificing the roomy storage of a hard drive (or causing excessive wear to the SSD). This is just one possible setup, but I hope it’s useful to you.

    The basic approach here is to have the OS on the SSD (the default setup on mixed-drive Macs), and to move certain folders onto the hard drive, providing links to those folders in the places they used to be. Before beginning, let me try to pre-empt two possible comments:

    “You can tell iTunes (etc) to keep its data elsewhere!”

    Indeed you can (usually by holding the alt/option key whilst launching the app), but you’ll have to do it for each and every app that has such a capability - and some apps won’t let you. The method I’m about to describe, however, will just work, without changing any settings.

    “You can put the home folder on the hard drive, and use the Accounts pane to point to it!”

    That’s also true (unlock the Accounts pane, then right-click on your account in the list), but you’re losing the speed benefit of having certain parts of your home folder on the SSD (such as caches, preferences, your development projects and so forth).

    It’s your choice if you want to use one of the above limited expedients, but I feel that you can find a better balance by doing just a little bit of extra work.

    Copying and Linking folders on the HDD

    With that all said, let’s offload some folders to the hard drive. It’s extremely easy to do, even though there’s a tiny, tiny bit of typing on the Terminal involved. If you’re scared of that, by all means run away now and get a friend to help. Also, make sure you have an up-to-date backup of your boot drive before beginning; that’s just common sense.

    We’re really just going to be repeating the same process over and over, once for each folder that you want to live on the HDD instead of the SDD. The process is simply this:

    In the Finder, copy the folder from the SSD to the HDD. Check that it was copied successfully.
    In Terminal, cd to the location of the original folder (on the SSD), and delete it via sudo rm -rf foldername.
    In Terminal, still in the location of the original folder you just deleted, make a link to the copy of the folder on the HDD, via ln -s /Volumes/HDDname/path/to/foldername.
    (In steps 2 and 3 above, you should of course substitute the actual names and paths of the relevant folders and volume instead of ‘foldername’, ‘HDDname’, and ‘path/to/foldername’. Hopefully that’s obvious. For the ln command, think of the syntax as being “put a link here, that points to there”.)

    That’s it. You’ll probably want to put all these copied folders somewhere sensible on the HDD; I created a folder called “matt” at the root of the HDD, and copied my folders into there - you can see a picture of it below. I’ve heard that you should not create a “Users” folder at the root of a non-boot disk, however.

    You should also note that, if you’ve copied and linked one of the “special” folders in your home directory (such as Pictures), the new folder/link won’t have the special icon that the Finder usually provides. That’s normal, and completely harmless. You may also need to re-add the folder to the Finder’s sidebar.

    There’s nothing else to it, except to decide which folders to actually offload.

    Choosing which folders to put on the HDD

    This is a personal decision, but generally you’ll want to offload folders that fit any of these criteria:

    Are very large. Your SSD is small, and it shouldn’t be bursting at the seams.
    Will change extremely often, particularly if they contain large files. SSDs are notably subject to wear, especially if they don’t support TRIM.
    Contain files which aren’t involved in performance-critical work.
    Try to keep in mind that the HDD is perfectly good enough for almost everything, and that we’ve been using HDDs for years. It’s not the poor cousin, and it hasn’t suddenly acquired the performance characteristics of a floppy disk drive. This is just about balance, and sensible optimisations to help get the most from the new SSD.

    In my own case, I offloaded several of the folders in my home directory onto the HDD, as shown in the screenshot below.

    Note that the Dropbox folder is created by the utility of the same name, and that the Backups folder is one I created for my own use.

    In addition to those, as shown in the picture, I offloaded Downloads, Movies and Pictures. I don’t keep things permanently in my Downloads folder yet its contents change constantly, so it was an excellent candidate for offloading. I also don’t heavily use iPhoto or Aperture, and keep my graphic work files in my Documents folder, so I could offload Pictures. I don’t do any video editing, and have a large Movies folder, so I offloaded it too.

    I did not offload the Music folder, but I did offload the actual media files (and mobile apps) that iTunes uses, as shown in the picture of my Music folder’s contents below.

    Note that on your Mac, the “iTunes Music” folder may instead be called “iTunes Media”. The reason I didn’t offload the entire Music folder was to keep my GarageBand files on the SSD for performance, and nor did I offload the entire parent iTunes folder so that I could keep iTunes’ library and metadata files on the SSD for the same reason.

    You may find that you’ll want to keep some of those folders on the SSD, and equally you may find that you want to offload additional folders to the HDD. For example, I also put my Virtual Machines folder on the HDD, and you might also want to put your Steam games there (they live in ~/Library/Application Support/Steam).

    Just follow the same process as above, and you should be fine. It takes only a few minutes, and it should ensure that you get the maximum benefit from the SSD without being unduly hindered by its comparatively small capacity.
  7. McGordon macrumors member

    Dec 28, 2010
    This command in that article is a symlink:

    ln -s /Volumes/HDDname/path/to/foldername.

    It's a bit like an alias in the Finder and just points to the real file.

    Personally, I've just got myself a small SSD, 120GB and have Lion, all my applications on it. I have my home folder there, but most folders in there are symlinked to my HD, except Library. Having my home folder Library on the SSD speeds things up quite a bit. All the preference files, caches and my Mail are there and it helps speed up access to all those little files. Most of my other stuff is too big to fit and is on the HD.

    Pictures are easy to keep elsewhere. Aperture lets you put your photos wherever you want and as stated earlier, so does iPhoto.
  8. dmax35 macrumors 6502

    Jun 21, 2012
    Great write up... Thank You. I considered going with a 256 Ssd, thou weighing out the hassles of split drive storage, I felt the cost justification for a larger ssd I.e. Samsung 512gb was will worth it and use my 2nd as a backup and boot camp windows install running flight sim.
  9. spacedesign911 macrumors regular

    Jul 22, 2010
    Dublin, Ireland
    Hi McGordon, I have a similar set up, sad boot and hdd master, I just have Pictures, Music, Documents, Movies on the HDD, I tried symlinking but I could not delete the original folders form the user folder in the ssd.

    I have a question for you. If you download a file in safari to your downloads folder, and you "move" it to your symlinked folders (which are on your hdd) are you actually copying the file or moving the file?

    On my set up when I move files, I am actually copying files, so I have to then delete the original, I fear sooner or later I will trip up and delete the wrong or previous file.
  10. McGordon macrumors member

    Dec 28, 2010
    If you had trouble deleting the original folders, you'd have to use sudo in terminal to execute the command as superuser, as described in the above article. You won't normally have permission to delete those. Be very careful doing this sort of thing, or you'll delete all your stuff. Do a backup first.

    If I drag a file from Downloads to my Documents or another folder in my symlinked home folder, the file will be moved by default as my Downloads folder is symlinked to the HDD. Even if it wasn't, like yours, you just need to hold down the command key while dragging. The green "+" symbol should disappear and the file will be moved instead of copied. You can do something similar by holding option down while dragging to force the Finder to copy when the default action was move.

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