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Thread: SSD drives as primary drive?

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    Subscriber robsteve's Avatar
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    SSD drives as primary drive?

    After seeing a SSD drive posted for sale in the forum I did a bit of research and it seems I can replace the optical drive in my iMac with a second drive. I was wondering how small of a SSD drive you can get away with as a primary drive with the OS and I suppose base applications on it.

    I am currently using about 880gb, but of that over 500gb is in my home directory and can be either moved to the other drive or be deleted. Staying on the home directory, can you set a default location for home directories other than the primary drive?

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    Re: SSD drives as primary drive?

    I have a 64GB SSD in my Mac Pro as my primary drive (this was a SSD pulled from my dead MacBook Air). It's a little cramped with all of my apps and stuff on there, but all of my photos are stored on a 3TB NAS. I actually don't have much in my home directory, usually just whatever I'm currently working on.

    I think you can redirect it with a symlink or you might be able to modify the home directory location in System Preferences->Users & Groups (or maybe you have to dig into the command line and use dscl...?). I'm not positive if any of this will work.

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    Re: SSD drives as primary drive?

    My Mac Pro has a 160 GB SSD as its main drive, of which only 38 GB is used. That includes the OS and apps. All sorts of data -- photos, music, documents -- are on other drives. A 64 or 80 GB drive should be fine.

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    Re: SSD drives as primary drive?

    I acknowledge the installation of a bloat of software (bloat is the collective noun for software) and find that my boot drive contains 66G of data.
    My user directories are all configures on a 4-way stripe using symbolic links
    -bob

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    Re: SSD drives as primary drive?

    Hey Rob. I run a 120 GB SSD as my system drive on my MBP for apps, home folder and the primary copy of personal files. No images. Tethered capture images and primary copies of files I'm currently working on go into a larger 6G SSD.

    You can relocate your home directory but can't recall how done, but am looking into same myself.

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    Re: SSD drives as primary drive?

    Quote Originally Posted by robmac View Post
    ...
    You can relocate your home directory but can't recall how done, but am looking into same myself.
    Simple:

    - Back up your system, preferably by making a bootable clone disk.
    - In System Preferences, click on (and unlock) the Users & Groups panel.
    - Control-click on a user account and pick the Advanced Options menu item.
    - Click the Choose button next to the directory path. A standard file browser will be presented allowing you to pilot your way to where you want to move the account home directory.
    - Restart to enable the change.

    My experience: to deal with problems that might arise, always leave one user account with administrator privileges enabled on the startup volume. Also, there are always some applications that will not function correctly unless re-installed from the newly relocated account.

    My MacBook Air has a 128G SSD, which has the OS, all my apps, my admin and user accounts, and decent complement of data on it. There's still 33Gbytes of free space. All photo data is on external drives (Lightroom catalogs, image files and exports), same for music and videos.

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    Re: SSD drives as primary drive?

    I use SSD boot disks on all 12 of my Macs. The important thing is to make sure that you have an excellent backup strategy in place with preferably a bootable clone drive if needed. With 12 machines I've had 5 SSD failures and unlike normal HDD failures there is typically no warning whatsoever - you'll just have a completely dead lost drive. Hence the healthy bootable backup recommendation.

    What I absolutely would recommend is being very very picky about the type of SSD you install. I'm a big fan of the OWC Mercury drives as they under provision the space and allow of automatic data recycling to maintain performance. The warranty is excellent too should you need it (I had one Mercury SSD die but it was replaced immediately, the other's have been more of a pain to get sorted out).
    Remember: adventure before dementia!

    As Oscar Wilde said, "my tastes are simple, I only like the best"

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    Re: SSD drives as primary drive?

    Quote Originally Posted by robmac View Post
    Hey Rob. I run a 120 GB SSD as my system drive on my MBP for apps, home folder and the primary copy of personal files. No images. Tethered capture images and primary copies of files I'm currently working on go into a larger 6G SSD.

    You can relocate your home directory but can't recall how done, but am looking into same myself.
    This is exactly what I am doing, except my larger drive is a spinny drive, not SSD. That is purely a financial decision. I would go SSD all around if I could.

    Quote Originally Posted by GrahamWelland View Post
    What I absolutely would recommend is being very very picky about the type of SSD you install. I'm a big fan of the OWC Mercury drives as they under provision the space and allow of automatic data recycling to maintain performance.
    That is really great advice. All SSDs are not created equal. I am using the OWC Mercury Extreme Pro 6G. It may be overkill, but I have had great luck with it and would do it again. Like Robmac, I am using a 120 GB drive for apps and in a perfect world I would go with a much larger drive so the immediate project I am working on could be on the same drive, but like I said, flawless experience with the dual internal drives.

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    Re: SSD drives as primary drive?

    Thanks for the process Godfrey.

    Also a big +1 on the OWC units. Have ran & upgraded a couple and all have been absolutely flawless (so far). That said, would be nice to see prices on SSDs drop faster...

    BUT also a big +1 (and then some) on the backups for system (bootable), working files, archive files, etc. I use Carbon Copy Cloner with automated backups (some hrly, some daily) to old-school drives -- and then offsite wkly rotating copies of everything.

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    Re: SSD drives as primary drive?

    The other option I see are hybrid ssd and conventional drives. Will these work in an iMac as a primary drive?

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    Subscriber & Workshop Member GrahamWelland's Avatar
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    Re: SSD drives as primary drive?

    Hybrid SSD/HDD drives work extremely well and whilst not quite as fast as pure SSD drives their cache basically makes them 90% as fast in real life. The cost is significantly cheaper if you want larger drives and I've never had one fail. Yet.

    I use the Seagate Momentus XT drives for large capacity storage in my laptops and as my backup spare boot drives.
    Remember: adventure before dementia!

    As Oscar Wilde said, "my tastes are simple, I only like the best"

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    Re: SSD drives as primary drive?

    Do the Momentus drives have the built in temp sensor that the 2009 27" iMacs use instead of a separate external sensor? My iMac currently has a Seagate drive in it.

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    Subscriber & Workshop Member GrahamWelland's Avatar
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    Re: SSD drives as primary drive?

    I don't know the specifics of the temperature sensors of the Momentus XT drives but I do note that they do report back temperature information to OS X.

    Here's an example from my MBP 17. The ST750LX is an internal Momentus XT drive.
    Remember: adventure before dementia!

    As Oscar Wilde said, "my tastes are simple, I only like the best"

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