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Tom Briant

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Monday, December 18, 2017

Happy Holidays and how to upgrade your Mac with an SSD and external hard drive-painlessly!

Happy Holidays to All and to all a good night…

As I sit here listening to Christmas music on, I am thankful that I have not lost anyone or even anything to the catastrophe engulfing Ventura and Santa Barbara, the Thomas fire. And to you down in San Diego dealing with the Lilac fire, my prayers go out to you. I donate to fire relief at the supermarket every time I go, too.

Enjoy the holidays while you still have peace and quiet. As for a real crackling fire in the fireplace, no. If you want to see a crackling fire in the fireplace without putting yourself in danger, go here and here. Put that big TV to work!

Upgrading your Mac with an SSD…Advisable? Fool-hardy? Let’s see…

Now back to my original premise, which is what to do about your Mac for the holidays. Should you get a new Mac? Should you attempt to upgrade your existing Mac?

First, Clear the holiday food and drink from the table or bench if you want to do any work on your Mac this holiday season. Cookie crumbs, eggnog, and mimosas don’t mix with expensive electronics.

Second, what options do you have? Do you want to stuff an SSD into your Mac or do you prefer to stick with an external drive?

As Apple builds Macs with tighter and tighter tolerances, using glue instead of screws; your internal options depend on your bravery in cracking open a closed system and your bank account in case it goes horribly wrong.

With that in mind, option #1 remains the use of external SSDs. If your system came with USB 3.0 or USB-C 3.1 ports, you can just plug an external SSD with a USB connection. The rest involves software and some changes to the settings. But you don’t need to monkey with the case and contents.

For those of us with only USB 2.0 and Firewire 800 connections, Glenn Fleishman of Macworld has had the same problem with his mid-2011 Mac Mini. He didn’t want to crack open his Mac Mini, so he went for a Firewire 800/USB 3.0 external SSD from OWC.

He wrote the article I referenced in 2015 and…OWC doesn’t sell that model any more. Go here for their current preassembled 500 GB SSD with Firewire 800/USB 3.0 options. It’s $299.75

They do sell the Firewire 800/USB 3.0 enclosure for full-size 3.5” drives and the notebook sized 2.5” drives. So, you’ll need to get a separate SSD, which OWC sells, for the enclosure.

Glenn’s tutorial still works, so follow in his path for a stress-free upgrade to higher speeds.

What The ?-I’ve got terabytes of data on my internal drive!

What do you do if you have lots and lots of data on your internal boot drive? You need to borrow a trick from M. Christopher Stevens to split the load between your boot drive with the applications and operating system; and the drive with the user folder stuffed with all that data.

Go here for M. Christopher’s explanation of how to accomplish this. He illustrated it and documented it. I used it with my old 2006 MacBook running 10.6.8 with its puny 80 GB drive so I could access all that music.

He’s not doing a “hack” that will void your warranty. Apple included this feature from the get-go, but haven’t publicized it.

My SSD is so puny and I’ve got so much music and video!

I want you to remember that not all data needs the speed of an SSD. Your music files will work fine if you access them from an external USB 2.0 hard drive. Video files, such as movies, work fine from a USB 2.0 DVD drive. If you used Handbrake to turn all your DVDs into video files, just store them on an external hard drive and you can view them with no problems. (Blu-Ray disks are another kettle of fish, and I have no experience with converting Blu-Rays into video files. Comments?)

Tom Briant

Editor, MacValley Blog


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