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Tips on optimising for 256 GB storage

hooks

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Oct 24, 2011
10
0
Berlin, Germany
Prefix: I've been a Mac user for 10 years now, even sold the machines. I am aware of how external HDs and cloud storage work.

I'm in the market for buying a new (second hand) MacBook Pro, but I'm afraid I'm going to have to get used to only 256 GB of storage space on my machine. Apple's MacBooks come with incredibly low amounts of hard drive space, and buying more is outside of my budget. 128 is just plain unrealistic - no idea how people do that. I bought mine in 2011, and so could easily swap the harddisk out for a Samsung SSD, and even remove the SuperDrive to put in a second HD. I now have 1 TB of storage space, but I'm afraid transferring to a new machine is going to be difficult. My Photos library alone is 113 GB!

The biggest perpetrators on my HD are my art projects (HQ image files), photos & videos, and audio recordings. I don't want to store everything in the cloud, since I'm often in places with spotty internet. I hesitate to put all my files on external disks, because it's cumbersome and it feels unsafe. What if something happens to those disks?

This brings me to the question: how do you, as a Mac user, optimise your HD space? How do you make sure everything is safe and backed up as well? Where do you keep your precious projects?

There must be more creative people with a lot of files, who have the same issue. Let me hear your solutions please! :)
 

BrianBaughn

macrumors 604
Feb 13, 2011
7,081
1,190
Baltimore, Maryland
As to "What if something happens to those disks?"...you should have regular backups of all internal and external drives that you use regularly.

128GB is hard to deal with on anything but an auxiliary machine. Other than spending the big bucks on a large SSD it sounds like the best option for you would be swapping the Superdrive out for a second HD and then putting your user folder on the second HD. You can adapt the instructions here for your situation.
 
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BornAgainMac

macrumors 604
Feb 4, 2004
6,539
3,661
Florida Resident
Video can eat up a lot of space in the Photos Library. You can check your Photos Library for video and see if that helps drastically reduce it. Small clips of videos are fine but long 4k segments of video will use a lot of space.

I use an external drive for video but remembering to keep it backed up can be a challenge.
 
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hooks

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Oct 24, 2011
10
0
Berlin, Germany
As to "What if something happens to those disks?"...you should have regular backups of all internal and external drives that you use regularly.
I get that. As someone who has worked in an Apple store, I always use more than one backup for everything. But if you're using multiple disks, this quickly becomes unmanageable. I'm specifically curious about how other people manage their data.

the best option for you would be swapping the Superdrive out for a second HD and then putting your user folder on the second HD. You can adapt the instructions here for your situation.
As I mentioned, I already did that to my current machine. The question is about a new machine - in which case this is not possible.
 
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negativzero

macrumors 6502a
Jul 19, 2011
564
55
If you don't want to upgrade storage, use cloud storage or external harddrives you're out of options. There is nothing much you can do. Its not really a Mac problem but a user problem. Unfortunately, one of the 3 has to budge if you want to solve your storage problem.
 
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hooks

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Oct 24, 2011
10
0
Berlin, Germany
If you don't want to upgrade storage, use cloud storage or external harddrives you're out of options. There is nothing much you can do. Its not really a Mac problem but a user problem. Unfortunately, one of the 3 has to budge if you want to solve your storage problem.
It is a user problem, but I'm not an extraordinary user. Apple's storage prices should just not be so ridiculously high. But of course you're right about the options. I'm not against external HDs and I use them, and I use Backblaze for backup, iCloud for all iOS stuff, and Dropbox for temporary files. I just get very anxious when I'm juggling data in different places like that. Maybe I'm just hoping that someone here has a great and foolproof data management solution, that doesn't exist. :)
 
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Fishrrman

macrumors Core
Feb 20, 2009
20,431
7,246
Question:
"how do you, as a Mac user, optimise your HD space?"

Answer:
By throwing out what I don't need, and keeping only those things I absolutely do.

You need to categorize your stuff:
- Level 1 --- things the MB won't run without (like the OS, apps, etc.)
- Level 2 --- stuff you'd like to keep "near", but not worth clogging up the drive with
- Level 3 --- stuff you can toss out and live without

My suggestion:
Buy one (or two) small external USB3 SSD's.
Use them for storage of the "Level 2" stuff above.
 
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Clix Pix

macrumors demi-goddess
Back in December of 2015 I made the transition from a 2012 iMac with 1 TB HDD to a 2015 15" MBP with 512 GB SSD. Before I made my decision I spent some time reviewing the apps, data and images I had on the iMac and made some choices about what I really didn't need on the internal drive and how I could deal with the items. Some I could simply delete, others I could put on an external drive as archival backup and others I could have closer at hand on an external SSD, a "supplemental drive". I purchased the MBP and prior to setting it up I spent some time copying files to various external drives and then copied from there to the MBP's internal SSD. A few months went by and when I thought about it I was actually very surprised to realize just how much stuff I'd had on that iMac's 1 TB drive that I never used, never looked at.....

Currently I have used 235.217 GB on my MBP, leaving 267.74 GB free..... I keep my iTunes library on the internal drive. I don't use Photos (prefer Aperture or other processing programs) and only keep a few favorite photos as well as image files which need to be culled and processed on the computer itself; everything else is on external drives. Important documents are on the computer and also are preserved on external drives, while other, not-so-important document files are either archived, put on current backup drives or kept on the speedy external SSDs that I use for supplemental purposes. When I need to grab a document or image, it's easy enough to plug in the external SSD and retrieve or look at the document there. This system has worked quite nicely for me.

A key word here is "DUPLICATES." It is important not to depend on only one external drive, especially for important folders and files. I have duplicates of everything: the archived files on external HDDs, the current backups on external SSDs and the "supplemental” files on external SSDs. External "platter" HDDs, which are less expensive and which are slower work just fine for archiving folders and files. I prefer the more expensive and faster external SSDs for anything that I still might need to retrieve and work on. Actually, I am now gradually moving towards using external SSDs for everything.

I found that this system also came in handy when a year or so later I purchased a 12" MacBook -- easy to set that machine up since I really didn't need to put a lot of stuff on it! Everything is there on external drives.... This works well for travel, too, to simply stick a tiny little credit-card-sized Samsung T5 into my bag along with the MacBook and I've got all my folders and files with me all the time.

When I run backups, which is usually around the first of each month unless I've done some extensive changing-around, I don't use Time Machine, I prefer to do everything manually. I have one set of external drives which lives in my bank safe deposit box. I do the backup on the drive that is at home and then take it to the bank and swap it out with the other drive. This gives me peace of mind as far as any sort of weather-related or other type of disaster at home. I also use iCloud to a limited extent as well. Prior to backing up, I spend a little time in taking anything off the computer's internal drive that I don't think I'll need to keep immediately available and stick that on the supplemental SSD. Both the computer's internal drive and the supplemental drives get backed up. Archival drives are left alone unless I am adding to them, which is more like every six months or a year.

As far as my images are concerned, I also have a gallery at Zenfolio.com, which is where I put my edited/processed images for sharing or displaying, so they are also readily available to me there as well.

Since you are looking at going with a machine with 256 GB SSD, it will be very important to evaluate what needs to stay on the machine and what can be relegated to external drives. One possibility would be to move your Photos library to an external drive, or your iTunes library. Another possibility would be to wait a little longer to make the purchase, save more money in order to try and stretch your budget so that you can get a machine with 512 GB. Many of us have found that 512 GB is the "sweet spot" when it comes to internal SSD capacity.
 
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AVBeatMan

macrumors 68040
Nov 10, 2010
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This is a great thread. I'm currently thinking the same thing. I have a 2013 MBP 256GB and that is probably at around 80% full. I've just bought a 12" MacBook (yesterday) and was considering one of the following;

Sell my MBP and "solve" the 256 Storage problem, or;
Keep the MBP as a storage devise and just use the new MacBook for web browsing, email etc..

One option would be to put my iTunes onto a hard drive or store in iCloud. Any thoughts on this? Any advice greatly appreciated. I have to say that I'm not too knowledgable about all this...
 
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