Stuck trying to have Home directory on SSD - setup but can't login.

Discussion in 'Mac mini' started by dafodeu, May 23, 2019.

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  1. dafodeu macrumors member

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    Mar 23, 2016
    #1
    I have a 2018 Mac Mini with only 256gb internal SSD so I want to use the internal only for the boot drive, OS, apps and have all files on the external SSD.

    I formatted the SSD as APFS encrypted. Set a password and added to Keychain.

    I created a new User account to test this out moving the Home directory with everything Desktop, Documents, Downloads ect to the SSD. I then went to Users & Groups and changed the Home Directory path to the SSD and was prompted to restart. I can no longer log into this account as I get an error message.

    What am I doing wrong?
     
  2. Stephen.R macrumors 65816

    Stephen.R

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  3. dafodeu thread starter macrumors member

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    Mar 23, 2016
    #3
    I enter the password for the account name and the loading bar gets 3/4ths of the way and I receive this message
    "You are unable to log in to the user account "work" at this time." Logging in to the account failed because an error occurred"

    When I click okay I am sent back out to the main login screen.

    The account that I am trying to log into is not an admin account if that makes a difference.
     
  4. Stephen.R macrumors 65816

    Stephen.R

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    #4
    My first guess would be permissions but I’d also check the logs in Console.app (try filtering by the username or the word login)
     
  5. dafodeu thread starter macrumors member

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    Mar 23, 2016
    #5
    Okay so this is odd. If I log into the admin account and then click switch users and log into "work" account it loads and the files are all on the SSD, but if I logout of the main admin account then I cannot log into the "work" account. I have the SSD password saved in both the admin and work account keychains.

    To clarify I have my Mac mini setup this way.

    Admin user account (used only to install apps)
    Work non-admin user account
    Personal non-admin user Account

    I read for security purposes you should use separate user accounts that aren't administrative and only use the admin account when needed which is why I set things up this way.
     
  6. Stephen.R macrumors 65816

    Stephen.R

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    #6
  7. Spectrum macrumors 65816

    Spectrum

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    #7
    In case it helps, I've always run everything from an admin account and never (yet) run into any issues.
    Even on the admin account you still get prompted to enter a password to make any system type changes, so I don't know that it is any less secure.
     
  8. kevink2 macrumors 65816

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    Nov 2, 2008
    #8
    I have my home directory in a sub directory on my USB drive, and it works. I had more difficulty than I expected setting it up.
     
  9. dafodeu thread starter macrumors member

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    Mar 23, 2016
    #9
    When I did the command it said The domain/default pair of ..../Autodiskmount does not exist.

    @Fishrrman recommended in another thread
    "
    I'd recommend a Mini with either 256gb or 512gb for the internal SSD.
    256 is fine if that's all you want to spend, it will have plenty of room and it will be VERY fast for the setup I describe next.

    Set things up this way:
    - Keep the OS, apps, and your "basic" accounts on the internal SSD
    - Use external supplemental storage for "large libraries" -- movies, music, pics, etc.
    "

    Pretty much what I am trying to accomplish just having the User Account "Work" all on the external with the Main user account admin, Boot drive and Apps on the internal.
    --- Post Merged, May 23, 2019 ---
    How did you manage to get it working?
     
  10. Stephen.R macrumors 65816

    Stephen.R

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    #10

    According to this very old hint, the file the preference is read from may not even exist by default: http://hints.macworld.com/article.php?story=20031103155828117

    I've actually just tested this using my MBP. It doesn't help that for some reason File sharing and SSH (aka Remote login) are not started on machine boot - someone has to login at the machine first, apparently.

    Anyway, I was able to recreate what I believed was happening both via SMB file sharing and SSH (and listing the contents of /Volumes):

    On initial boot, no external drives are mounted.
    While someone is logged in to the machine locally, external drives are mounted and available.
    Upon logout, external drives are unmounted.

    Following the tip I posted earlier, and the referenced Apple Discussion thread, I created an automount.plist file, put it in place and rebooted. As mentioned, sharing isn't available upon boot, so I can't be 100% sure the volume would be mounted and available for login, but definitely upon logout the volume stays available.

    I've attached the plist file I created, unzip it (MR wouldn't accept a plist file as-is) and place it (you'll need to authenticate as admin) in /Library/Preferences/SystemConfiguration/ and restart.

    No guarantee that is the solution, but it's a pretty quick thing to try and very easy to reverse if it doesn't work and you prefer the old behaviour (where you can safely unplug drives when no one is logged in)
    --- Post Merged, May 23, 2019 ---
    Also, this person seems to have done it successfully quite recently: https://forums.macrumors.com/thread...y-to-an-external-drive.2175898/#post-27249854
    --- Post Merged, May 23, 2019 ---
    Oh, and I just realised, of course SSH/Sharing aren't available before the first 'login': I have FileVault enabled, so the disk is still encrypted at that point.
     

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  11. Fishrrman, May 24, 2019
    Last edited: May 24, 2019

    Fishrrman macrumors P6

    Fishrrman

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    Feb 20, 2009
    #11
    "I have a 2018 Mac Mini with only 256gb internal SSD so I want to use the internal only for the boot drive, OS, apps and have all files on the external SSD. "

    You're doing it wrong.

    Yes, you want to have the OS and apps on the internal SSD.
    But -- try to move the home folder, and you're inviting trouble (as you've found out).

    The home folder should STAY on the same drive as the OS and apps.
    BUT... you should move some of the large libraries that are INSIDE OF the home folder to your external drive.

    For example, if you use:
    iTunes -- move the iTunes music folder to the external drive
    Photos -- move the Photos library to the external drive
    iMovie -- keep your iMovie libraries on the external drive
    movies -- move these to the external drive.

    The idea is to "thin down the home folder", and keep the boot SSD "lean and clean".
    This will work if you have more than one home folder on the boot drive, as well.
     
  12. mwinner macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Dec 19, 2008
    #12
    Did you encrypt the external drive? If so you need to decrypt it. I just moved my home directory to an external SSD. Works like a charm
     
  13. dafodeu, May 25, 2019
    Last edited: May 25, 2019

    dafodeu thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Mar 23, 2016
    #13
    Thanks @Stephen.R I appreciate help, but due to complexity issues I keep running into I am going to try to switch to keeping the user home folder on the internal and try to have everything else on the external.

    @Fishrrman when I move my downloads, music, photos, documents folders to the external how do I point apps/itunes ect to automatically load and save files automatically from those folders as opposed to the ones on the internal drive? After copying over do I delete the ones in the Home folder on the internal drive?
    --- Post Merged, May 25, 2019 ---
    Yes with filevault I chose APFS encrypted. I have the password saved to the keychain so it automatically mounts when I log in. Would a drive automount pre-login if it isn't encrypted?
    Also, @mwinner are you using a Mac Mini 2018? I wonder if the T2 chip has something to do with this.
     
  14. mwinner macrumors newbie

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    Dec 19, 2008
    #14
    Yes I am, 2018 mini.
    I don’t think the drive would decrypt in time to mount at login.
     
  15. Fishrrman macrumors P6

    Fishrrman

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    Feb 20, 2009
    #15
    OP wrote:
    "when I move my downloads, music, photos, documents folders to the external how do I point apps/itunes ect to automatically load and save files automatically from those folders as opposed to the ones on the internal drive? After copying over do I delete the ones in the Home folder on the internal drive?"

    You CANNOT COPY the "first level of subfolders" in your original home folder on the internal drive.
    By this, I mean that you can't copy the folders named documents, movies, music, pictures, library, etc.
    (these are "more than just folders" -- they are symbolic links to that particular user account)

    HOWEVER -- you CAN COPY files (and folders) that are INSIDE OF these folders.

    That means you can copy the iTunes music folder to another drive (even though you CANNOT copy the "Music" folder to another drive.

    Here's how to set things up:
    (print this out and keep for reference)

    On your external drive, use the finder to create new folders. You can name them anything you want. Let's just call them
    - Documents
    - Music
    - Movies
    - Pictures

    Now (as an example), do this:
    - Be sure iTunes IS NOT RUNNING. Quit it if it is running.
    - Go to the Music folder in the home folder on your internal drive.
    - Locate the "iTunes" folder and copy it into the new folder on the external drive named "Music". If it's large it may take some time.
    - Now, hold down the option key and launch iTunes (while holding down the option key)
    - You should see a dialog box asking you WHICH LIBRARY TO USE.
    - You need to "aim" iTunes at the NEW "iTunes" library on the external drive
    - iTunes will launch and it's now using the iTunes library on the external drive.

    That was an example for iTunes, but it will work the same way for Photos, iPhoto, iMovie, etc.

    At this point, once you know things are working as you want, you can delete the iTunes folder on your INTERNAL drive to save space.

    WARNING!
    Since you now have "your important stuff" on an external drive, you have to BACK IT UP as well as backing up the internal drive.
    I always recommend either CarbonCopyCloner or SuperDuper as the backup apps to use.
     

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14 May 23, 2019