What's the Best Way to Use SSD+HHD Mini?

Discussion in 'Mac mini' started by sheetrock321, Nov 8, 2016.

  1. sheetrock321 macrumors member


    Aug 1, 2008
    So I recently installed a Samsung 850 Pro 256GB SSD in my late 2012 Mac Mini using OWC's data doubler, combining my original 500GB regular hard drive.

    I successfully boot from the SSD, and use my 3 or so External Harddrives for files and documents and photos, etc.

    Question is, what the heck do I do with my internal 500GB hard drive? It's just sitting there. Granted, it still has my original OS and several files, but A. the OS (sierra) is on my SSD and 2. All files are backed up on my externals, including a FireWire 500GB solely purposed for time Machine for my Samsung SSD content.

    So I'm pretty sure I could just erase my original 500GB internal without any hickups (right??) and just use it like I use my external hard drives, for files, large collections (movies, music, photos, etc.)

    I've read about "Fusion" drives and "make your own" but also that this is false, that you can't make a real fusion drive from a third party installation. I've also heard of hybrid drives, but don't really know what they are, though maybe that's what I already have.

    Sooooooo........any advice? How to best utilize my 2 internal drives (1 256GB SSD, 1 500GB HHD)??
  2. antonypg macrumors member

    May 8, 2008
    I would consider turning it into a Fusion drive, although you might think about increasing the size of the HDD to 2TB.

    I just setup a Fusion drive using an external Thunderbolt SSD and an external USB3 HDD. Works perfectly. Much, much quicker than a normal HDD.
  3. sheetrock321 thread starter macrumors member


    Aug 1, 2008
    Well, I have about 3 External HDs, each 2TBs, so while they may not be as super fast (though they're pretty fast) I think I'm set.

    Would you happen to have a link of how you created this "Fusion Drive"?

    I've done some research and it's like, well many say you can't make a "real" fusion drive using a third party SSD, and some say you can, but others say it's best to just keep them separate. So speaking of, it's been a bit difficult to separate fact from fiction from opinion.

    Either way, people (you, for example) HAVE done it, and right now, my factory 500GB hard drive is kind of just sitting there, so I guess I'm down to just try a fusion drive. Seems that's about the only way to really know if it'll work.

    But any resources you might have would be great.

    I found this (among a few others): http://www.macworld.com/article/2014011/storage-drives/how-to-make-your-own-fusion-drive.html

    Looking at the comments at the bottom of that link though, definitely makes one hesitate!
  4. antonypg macrumors member

    May 8, 2008
    I made my fusion drive using instructions exactly the same as the Macworld site, I believe a number of sites listed the same commands.

    My Fusion consists of a 60GB SSD (not the fastest) fitted into a Thunderbolt enclosure plus a 500GB drive fitted into a USB3 enclosure. I plugged in both drives, created the Fusion then installed Sierra. I have been running my Fusion for a week or so, and have successfully tried the drives on my MacBook 2011 (USB2 for the HDD), a Mac Mini 2012 and two other MacBooks (friends at work). Boot time is very similar to an internal SSD.

    Because the enclosures have LEDs fitted you can watch the Fusion system in action. The SSD fills first, then when you copy a large file it goes to the SSD first, then the HDD, then after the copy is completed Sierra moves 4GB or so of data from the SSD to the HDD to make some more free space on the SSD. I believe this is exactly the action expected.

    I am now planning on upgrading the SSD to 500GB and the HDD to 4TB, to give myself a 4.5TB Fusion drive. Next year I am planning to replace my Mac Mini with an iMac, I will then just plug the drives into the new machine and carry on working.
  5. Fishrrman macrumors G5


    Feb 20, 2009
    OP wrote:
    "Question is, what the heck do I do with my internal 500GB hard drive? It's just sitting there."

    Partition it into two "pieces", equally-sized.

    On the first partition, use CarbonCopyCloner (or SuperDuper) to create a bootable cloned backup of your SSD.
    Use the second partition for whatever you wish. One suggestion might be to archive system installers, software installers, etc.

    Why create a bootable backup?
    Because... if you ever experience an "I can't boot!" situation with the SSD, you have an immediately-accessible "second boot source".
    You'll be back up-and-running in a couple of minutes.
    You can also update your cloned backup just before a system update. This way, if the update on the SSD doesn't go as planned, it's easy to boot from the backup and just "clone it back over" to the SSD, and you'll be right back "to where you once belonged".

    How many posts in this forum have you seen from folks flopping around like a fish out-of-water because something went wrong with their boot volume and they have nothing else to which to turn?
  6. campyguy macrumors 68040

    Mar 21, 2014
    Portland / Seattle
    My 2¢ is to leave your disk configuration as is and not create a fusion drive setup, continue using the SSD as your main OS drive, leave the 500GB drive in place, and partition the 500GB HD into a small (50-75GB) partition used as a bootable backup and a larger partition to contain your media (music/photos/videos).

    I own a 2012 Mini Server with a 512GB 850 Pro and the stock (second) 1TB stock spinner still in the second bay. The spinner houses my iTunes library and the few photos I have; I have two music libraries on that drive - the iTunes Match-oriented library and a second Apple Lossless backup of my CDs. I back up to a couple of G-Tech Drives and to my Amazon UL File Storage ($5 per year bundled with buying AC for my Mini...).

    I offer not creating a fusion drive because you have an 850 Pro installed - that SSD is IMHO the "perfect" OS SSD, so much faster than 95% of the SATA SSDs and generally a rock-solid SSD. Besides my Mini, it's installed in 6 Mini Servers in my company - dual 1TB drives bound together via RAID 0 (they're production machines), and I just can't see slowing down the 850 Pro.
  7. sheetrock321 thread starter macrumors member


    Aug 1, 2008
    Thanks for the info! And good to hear from someone that's done it with knowledge of what my setup is.

    And the SSD "filling first," i mean, is that recommended to fill up my SSD? I may not be understanding what you meant, but also a Fusion drive confuses me, I need to find an infographic or something, ha.

    I think I'll have some more questions below.

    This also makes very good sense. Question, what is the difference between bootable backup and say, Time Machine (which I have all of my SSD stuff on. External Firewire)? Besides one being external (firewire).

    Ok, so why only 50-75GB partition? As is,157GB of my Samsung 850 Pro is used (98ishGB left). And yeah, no itunes, photos, I guess I just have a lot of apps (I'm an app hoarder) and I guess there's a few sound libraries for certain apps like Native Instruments/Akai-but those are in my HD Library>Applicationsupport. Plus a TON of audio plugins, also in the HD Library.

    Regardless. So yeah, as @Fishrrman said, shouldn't I split the partition (effectively making it the size of the 850 if I went this route)?

    And final, yet kind of unrelated question. I read that getting an SSD drive drastically improves USB 3.0 speeds, like for my USB 3.0 Hard Drives (2 2TB Passports). But running Blackmagic EHDD speed test, there doesn't seem to be that much difference.
  8. campyguy macrumors 68040

    Mar 21, 2014
    Portland / Seattle
    IMHO the partition size I indicated includes a bare-bones system install - I want to get my Mac up and running, that's it. A clone of your main OS drive is also paramount, and you indicated that you already have a backup plan (as do I). Should my main OS drive go down, I want a bootable partition or external drive to work *now*, with no fluff or add-ons. I use an older LaCie Rugged TB drive with the TB1/USB3 dual interface - it's in a fire-resistant safe; there's nothing on it except a bare El Capitan install and a bare Sierra install. Should any of my work-related Minis or iMacs go down I can put them into Target Disk mode, boot from another Mini or my LaCie disk and recover data in a matter of minutes. I keep clones of my drives in an offsite location, just as you offer that you have a backup plan; my minimal OS partition is just my means to get up and running ASAP - but it's not my clone or backup.

    I see only a need to get up and running ASAP and be able to restore from my backup data source(s) as my priority; creating a second OS partition that are pretty much the same size is IMHO a waste of disk space if a clone is part of a backup plan, and I have at least one clone available as part of my plan.
  9. Fishrrman macrumors G5


    Feb 20, 2009
    OP asked:
    "Question, what is the difference between bootable backup and say, Time Machine (which I have all of my SSD stuff on. External Firewire)?"

    A "cloned, bootable backup" is an EXACT COPY of your internal drive that will boot and appear to be EXACTLY as does the original (at the moment you last cloned it). That's because it IS the original -- just "cloned".

    It will boot and run the same.
    Applications will work, files can be accessed.
    You can boot from the backup and run maintenance on your internal drive if you wish.

    You CAN'T DO THIS with a Time Machine backup.
    All you can do is boot, and do a "restore".
    You can't actually USE a TM backup for anything (other than a restore).

    Try what I outlined above, and see for yourself.
    If you don't like it, you can just erase the HDD and use it for something else.
  10. Stephen Valente macrumors member

    Feb 16, 2012
    I've got the twin 1Tb drives in my Mac Mini 2012 quad core. Would an SSHD be a compromise drive replacement? Alternatively, and not involving any surgery, would an external SSD to operate as a boot drive be worthwhile?
  11. Fishrrman macrumors G5


    Feb 20, 2009
    "Alternatively, and not involving any surgery, would an external SSD to operate as a boot drive be worthwhile?"

    YES. Shouting intentional.

    You will ENJOY the speed boost.

    Just leave the two internal drives "in place" and add an SSD via USB3.
    Set it up with the OS, your apps, and "trimmed down" home folders.
    If you have large libraries of pics, music and movies, leave them on the HDD's, and set your apps to "reference" them from the SSD.

    This way you'll keep the SSD "lean and clean", and always fast….

    Something like this would do fine:
  12. antonypg macrumors member

    May 8, 2008
    Over the weekend I decided to try another Fusion combination. I have now paired my internal 256GB SSD with an external 4TB 2.5" USB3 drive. I now have a whopping 4.25TB main drive. I have also setup a 4TB time machine drive.

    So far I am very impressed. Instead of moving my photos, videos, music etc. onto separate drives I have everything on my main drive where it feels like it should be. Even with a 1.2TB iTunes library, 200GB+ of photos and 400GB+ of video I have over 2TB of free space. Boot time is impressively fast, applications launch instantly.
  13. nebo1ss macrumors 68030

    Jun 2, 2010
    I am presently running my 2012 Mac mini server exactly the way you describe. The original config was two 1 TB drives but I was getting a problem recently and suspected it might have been the boot drive. I used carbon copy to create a bootable SSD and have been running the system from the external USB 3 for about a month now.

    My long term plan is to take one of the Internal drives out and put the SSD in the machine but no real reason to go that way in a hurry since it is running well.

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