Upgrading hard drive - advice needed

Discussion in 'Mac mini' started by Dan Weaver, Jun 2, 2015.

  1. Dan Weaver, Jun 2, 2015
    Last edited: Jun 3, 2015

    Dan Weaver macrumors newbie

    Dan Weaver

    Joined:
    Jun 2, 2015
    #1
    I'd like some advice on the best way to do the following drive swap:

    I have a late 2012 Mac mini with 1.12TB Fusion Drive (120GB SSD + 1TB HDD). After some research I've decided to change the drive configuration to 500GB SSD and 1TB HDD as two separate drives - no Fusion Drive.

    I intend to use the 500GB SSD for OS, apps and libraries etc. and the 1TB HDD just for Dropbox, eventually swapping out both for 1TB SSD when the prices drop further.

    The Fusion Drive is currently at around 700GB consisting of a 400GB Dropbox folder and 300GB for everything else. I already have the 500GB SSD and have cloned to it the contents of the Fusion Drive, excluding the Dropbox folder, using Super Duper and an external drive cable. I've copied the 400GB Dropbox folder to an external USB drive.

    I should also mention that I have a full Time Machine backup and a Backblaze online backup.

    I'm now ready to swap the drives but I'm undecided how to approach it:

    METHOD 1 - take out the 120GB SSD and replace with the new 500GB SSD. Leave the 1TB (ex-Fusion) drive in the Mac. Start up with the new SSD, format the 1TB HDD and copy my Dropbox folder to it. This method concerns me the most because it involves immediately splitting the Fusion Drive and destroying the original data.

    METHOD 2 - take out both the original drives and store for 'disaster recovery'. Put in the 500GB SSD and a new 1TB HDD. Start up with the new SSD and copy my Dropbox folder to the new 1TB HDD. The main downsides are that I'll have to buy a new 1TB internal drive and when I'm satisfied that the new drives are working I'll be left with a redundant (the original) 1TB internal drive.

    METHOD 3 - take out both the original drives and store for 'disaster recovery'. Put in the 500GB SSD and start up with it. Add a new 1TB external USB drive and copy my Dropbox folder to it. When I'm satisfied that the new drives are working, format the 1TB (ex-Fusion) drive, put it back in and use it for Dropbox. I'll be left with an unused 1TB external drive but I'll use that for a Super Duper clone of the OS drive incase of failure. The downside of this approach is having to open the Mac mini twice, not a pleasant thought at all.

    Any advice on how to proceed would be greatly appreciated.

    Which method would you use for swapping out the drives?
    Would you be happy with immediately splitting the Fusion Drive?
    Would Time Machine be reliable for a full system recovery if things should go wrong?
    Am I doing too much work upgrading an old machine?

    Thank you for reading this far. You're obviously one of my kind.
     
  2. oneMadRssn macrumors 68040

    oneMadRssn

    Joined:
    Sep 8, 2011
    Location:
    Boston, MA
    #2
    I would do the following:

    1. Make a full bootable backup to a USB hard drive using Carbon Copy Cloner. Boot into it once to ensure everything works. Put that aside. Alternatively, make full backup using Carbon Copy Cloner into an container file on a network drive - though this is less ideal.
    2. Boot into recovery mode and format both hard drives, and unfusion them. Also, using disk utility, check which drive is in which slot, upper or lower.
    3. Open the Mac Mini, and put in the new SSD. Since the upper slot is more work to get into later, move the spinner into this slot if it isn't already there. The lower slot is easier to get to, so the SSD should go there (since it sounds like you might replace that soon again, save yourself some work later).
    4. Boot up the Mac Mini again into recovery mode, format the SSD, and install a fresh and clean OS X.
    5. Connect the USB backup, and manually copy back the files you want to put back, wherever you want them to go. Do not do a restore, OS X isn't good at restores. So I would just manually copy the files, install the apps you need, etc etc.
    6. Enjoy!
     
  3. oneMadRssn macrumors 68040

    oneMadRssn

    Joined:
    Sep 8, 2011
    Location:
    Boston, MA
    #3
    Also wanted to add, if you're doing this much surgery, and if you're up for it, might make sense to redo the thermal paste.
     
  4. Fishrrman macrumors G3

    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2009
    #4
    OP:
    METHOD 4 -- just buy a 1tb USB3 external drive and plug it in.

    This saves you from doing any "surgery" at all, and will cost [nominally] the same.
    You can "de-fuse" the internal drives if you wish, or "leave it be".

    A lot less time-and-trouble doing it this way.
     
  5. Dan Weaver thread starter macrumors newbie

    Dan Weaver

    Joined:
    Jun 2, 2015
    #5
    Thanks for your answers. I'm afraid I've painted myself into a corner by buying a 500GB SSD already.

    I didn't know about running an external SSD as a boot drive until I read some of Fishrrman's other posts. Looks like a totally viable option.

    Buying a 1TB external drive would certainly be the quickest and easiest option but a 1TB SSD is out of budget for me right now. And although running the 500GB SSD as an external boot drive would be fine, running a separate 1TB external HDD for Dropbox would not (due to Dropbox's apparent inability/unwillingness to properly support external drives).

    I'll have to think more about how to approach this.
     
  6. Partron22 macrumors 68000

    Partron22

    Joined:
    Apr 13, 2011
    Location:
    Yes
    #6
    I'm going with a SATA 3 500 gB SSD in one of those cheap (about $22) USB 3 drive caddies. No surgery, cheap, plenty of speed; plus I can get a 2nd caddy, swap the SDD out and run off an internal HDD copy of the system whenever I need to clone multi-terabyte drives at reasonable speed.
     
  7. Fishrrman macrumors G3

    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2009
    #7
    Partron22 wrote above:
    "I'm going with a SATA 3 500 gB SSD in one of those cheap (about $22) USB 3 drive caddies."

    Good choice but one thing to be aware of:
    BE SURE that the caddy you buy EXPLICITLY STATES that it also has UASP support.

    You need UASP (USB attached SCSI protocol) in order to obtain the full 5gbps transfer rate that USB3 is capable of.
     
  8. Partron22 macrumors 68000

    Partron22

    Joined:
    Apr 13, 2011
    Location:
    Yes
    #8
    Yes.
    Another nice thing about these caddies is that they extend the useful life of my outdated Firewire 800 drives. Turns out every one of them has SATA innards, so I can just pull the guts out, plug them into the caddy and get a step up to USB 3 performance, at least insofar as a HDD can go.
     

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