What to do about iMac HDD

Discussion in 'iMac' started by aframe99, Feb 9, 2016.

  1. aframe99 macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Feb 9, 2016
    #1
    Forgive me if this is in the wrong place, boring or dumb.....
    I have a mid 2011 iMac with a 1TB HDD (I updated the Ram awhile ago to 20GB, if that ends up being relevant). I use the computer for mainly light activities....photos, some minor video editing, internet, word processing, etc. My photos library is around the 300GB mark (about 600GB everything together) and lately the computer seems sluggish. I run Time Machine on an attached external, backup the photo lib on my router that has a built in HDD. Recently I've been using Carbon Copy Cloner to keep a bootable copy in another location. I update that weekly or so when I remember. We plan on buying a MacBook Pro in the next year or so, but I've been hoping to breath some new life into iMac just to make it's use more enjoyable. My question is this: Should I try something like the Transcend 250GB thunderbolt external drive to make a boot disk with just the OS and apps to make the computer a little more snappy (around the $200 mark), should I buy a thunderbolt dock that will give me access to USB 3 and make it easier to move and backup data -based on research none of these seem to be bootable, I could be wrong, hopefully someone can correct me because that would make this decision a lot easier ($250 mark), should I do nothing? I'm basically looking to spruce up the iMac (without spending a ton - thunderbolt stuff seems so expensive), but purchase something that I will still be able to use if we buy a Macbook Pro. I'm always paranoid about the HDD going, and I'm most concerned about the photo library so I tend to go overboard on extra copies of that (everything else I could live without). Thanks for your time!
     
  2. ElCani macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jun 15, 2012
    #2
    Have you considered installing an internal SSD? You don't say whether you have a 27 or 21.5 iMac, but if it's the former you can fit an SSD under the Superdrive and then create a Fusion drive with the existing HDD, or keep the drives separate and keep the OS and applications on the SDD. I went the Fusion drive route with my 2011 27 (250GB SSD + 2TB HDD) and it performs extremely well, a huge improvement from only having a HDD.

    Taking the iMac apart is daunting but not actually particularly difficult as long as you ensure you have the correct tools (and SATA cable) and follow one of the many step-by-step guides online (e.g iFixit). If you have a 21.5 iMac I think you will have to remove the Superdrive to fit the SSD inside.

    When you buy the Macbook you can remove the SDD from the iMac and use it as a fast external drive for extra storage/back-up.

    Cheers

    iFixit guide (read comments at the bottom): https://goo.gl/yILyBj
    OWC video guide:
     
  3. Fishrrman, Feb 10, 2016
    Last edited: Feb 10, 2016

    Fishrrman macrumors G4

    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2009
    #3
    OP:

    Some thoughts:

    You could "move off" your photo library to an external drive, and by doing so reclaim space on your internal. Then -- defrag the internal to get rid of the "fragmented free space", and you'll probably gain some speed.

    Opening the iMac to install an SSD is an involved process, and not without dangers.

    However, perhaps a better scenario -
    You have thunderbolt (right?), so you could buy an SSD in a thunderbolt enclosure and boot the iMac that way.
    With an SSD in a thunderbolt "external booter", I sense that you'll be very happy with the performance increase.

    Be aware that thunderbolt SSD's are pricey compared to USB3 SSD's, but you don't have the choice of USB3.

    You WOULD NOT want to keep your photo libraries on the external booter -- just your OS, apps, and (stripped down) accounts.
    The photo libraries (along with music, movies, etc.) can stay on the internal drive.

    You SHOULD also have an external backup drive large enough to keep everything backed up -- ahh, see you already do that! And CCC is -the best- way to do it.
     
  4. bassjunky macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Jun 15, 2009
    Location:
    Texas
    #4
    I have the same iMac and that's what I did. Booting off the external TB Transcend drive that contains OSX and apps, while the internal 1TB drive holds my media. Works great, didn't have to open up the iMac at all. Obviously a lot faster than running everything off the HDD.
     
  5. aframe99 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Feb 9, 2016
    #5
    thanks for the feedback.....I wouldn't mind opening up the imac (27" by the way), but right now it's my main computer and I can't take the risk of breaking something and not having it (read some of the cables to the display can be easily broken?). I'd really like to find a thunderbolt enclosure, but they seem to be few and far between outside of really expensive ones. The ones that are more in my price range seem to be maybe not so reliable based upon reviews(looked at star tech, akitio, etc)? The reason I'd like to go this way is the ability to expand down the road if things went well (like have an SSD for boot, and a spinner as a backup drive all in one box). I keep coming back to the transcend because of the simplicity of plug and play. Bassjunky what size did you go with, did you wish you went larger and how good was the improvement? I like the idea of $190 price range for some increased performance, but I don't want to kick myself down the line.

    I wouldn't mind moving the larger media files of the comp to an external, but I only have USB 2.0 and I think that would be painfully slow.

    Thanks again for the responses!
     
  6. bassjunky macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Jun 15, 2009
    Location:
    Texas
    #6
    I bought the Transcend StoreJet 256GB and just use double-sided tape to adhere it to the back of the iMac stand. Obviously I'm using ThunderBolt instead of USB 3.0 since my iMac does not have USB 3. I have quite a few apps, though maybe not as many as some, but still have ~140GB free. Currently, and for the foreseeable future, I don't see myself running out of space on the SSD.

    The improvement has been drastically great, just like any other machine going from a spinner to SSD. Where it would take a good minute+ or so (if I remember correctly) to completely boot OSX on the internal HDD, now it takes maybe 15 seconds or so, if that, on the SSD from a cold boot. It flies, apps open super quickly. It's been rock solid.

    This was my first iMac (bought from my brother for $500, helluva deal) and while I have decades of experience with PCs/hardware/building my own, I didn't want to immediately rip open my new (new to me) iMac.

    I have no regrets in buying the Transcend drive.
     
  7. aframe99 thread starter macrumors newbie

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    Feb 9, 2016
  8. Richdmoore macrumors 68000

    Richdmoore

    Joined:
    Jul 24, 2007
    Location:
    Troutdale, OR
    #8
    I dif the same thing with a ssd in a delock thunderbolt enclosure, it is a great upgrade.
     
  9. aframe99 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Feb 9, 2016
    #9
    Richdmoore mind if I ask what enclosure you used and where you got it from. The only one I can find is this: http://www.synchrotech.com/products...sd-drive-external-enclosure-delock-42510.html I read some not so great reviews and the benchmarks on this site aren't terribly impressive (although it may be the drives they used for the testing). However, $94 for an enclosure would be great and give me the flexibility I am looking for long term.
     
  10. Richdmoore macrumors 68000

    Richdmoore

    Joined:
    Jul 24, 2007
    Location:
    Troutdale, OR
    #10
    Synchrotech is the only us authorized dealer for the delock drive caddy. I purchased my drive from them a few months ago, no issues whatsoever with them or the drive itself. It shipped fairly fast too.

    I did use an official Apple thunderbolt cable vs buying one from them, so I don't knew the quality of their thunderbolt cables. Be sure to buy one, as it is not included with the drive.
     
  11. aframe99 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Feb 9, 2016
    #11
    So I decided on transcend. Just seemed simpler I guess. I'm hoping that I can just use carbon copy a deselect the larger library files and make a bootable copy then delete apps and whatnot off the internal? Is this an effective way? I know I'll have to change some settings like the home directory and some app specific stuff. Bassjunky is this what you did or can you offer some advise?
     
  12. bent christian Suspended

    bent christian

    Joined:
    Nov 5, 2015
    #12
    How is the heat from the enclosure? Reviewers are complaining that it gets quite hot, risking damage to the drive. Is this an accurate assessment in your experience?
     
  13. bassjunky, Feb 12, 2016
    Last edited: Feb 12, 2016

    bassjunky macrumors regular

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    Jun 15, 2009
    Location:
    Texas
    #13
    Regarding heat, mine doesn't get hot at all. Maybe it would heat up if you're transferring large files continuously back and forth to it, but I have not had that experience. For just running the OS and apps, it stays plenty cool for me.

    Since I got the drive shortly after I bought the iMac, I opted to perform a clean install, so I don't have any experience restoring from a CCC image/Time Machine/etc...sorry, can't help in that regard. Though like you mentioned, I did create sym-links for the User directory folders to point to the internal 1TB HDD instead of the SSD.

    One little quirk I've found on the Transcend drive (and have since reported to Transcend) is that on a cold boot, the drive is not immediately detected if it is already attached to your iMac. I have to disconnect the Thunderbolt cable from either the drive or the iMac, then reconnect, then it is immediately available to boot from. When you just restart the iMac, this is not an issue, only when you completely shut down the iMac and later boot it up. Since I seldom, if ever, completely shutdown my iMac, it's a non-issue for me, and even if I do, a quick disconnect and reconnect of the Thunderbolt cable is all that is required to detect the drive.

    It's a strange quirk, but not really a big deal if you're aware of it, or hardly ever completely shutdown the iMac.
     
  14. aframe99 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Feb 9, 2016
    #14
    Just to follow up...thanks again for all the info. I received the transcend 250GB drive yesterday and its up and running. I first tried a clean install, but it appeared it was going to be tedious moving all the data I wanted to move without losing track or messing something up. I was able to us CCC and deselect my larger files (which ended up being photos and surprisingly my iphone backups among others). I ended up with a relatively small clone of 60GB or so (from a 1Tb HDD with 550GB of data). Boots are very fast and apps are opening faster, but my most used apps tend to have the larger libraries which are still on the HDD so some of them are still slow though not the fault of the drive itself.

    I think I'm going to keep the internal as is for awhile to make sure there aren't any issues. I like knowing I can always go right back to where I was.

    Read/Write speeds of HDD vs SSD are attached. Cannot comment on heat yet as the drive has yet to see much use. I'll comment later on that I guess.

    Now onto a USB 3.0 solution so I can offload my photos and run more effective.

    index.png index2.png
     
  15. Fishrrman macrumors G4

    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2009
    #15
    What kind of large libraries remain on the internal drive?

    It's probably best to just "leave them there", particularly if they're pictures, music and movies.
    Items like those generally aren't accessed that much and speed isn't required.

    How are you going to add USB3 to a 2011 iMac?

    Thunderbolt docks work ok but are relatively expensive ($200 range).
    There have appeared standalone "thunderbolt-to-USB3" adapters, run about $80.
     
  16. aframe99, Feb 14, 2016
    Last edited: Feb 14, 2016

    aframe99 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Feb 9, 2016
    #16
    Ya. Thinking about the Kanex thunderbolt to USB 3.0 and then maybe a powered hub. The libraries are photos and some music. I'd like to attempt to move them someday and use the internal as a time machine or other backup, but that's a ways off. Opening photos takes about two min just for thumbnails and then a bit more for the entire library. Sounds like nothing but when you're just looking to open and edit or share one photo quickly it can be a pain. I've also debated making a new library and just accessing the older photos when needed. We'll see.
     

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