Separating OS and Apps and Files on a Macbook Pro with 2 Drives
February 12, 2014 7:41 AM   Subscribe

I am planning on using an OWC Data Doubler to replace the optical drive in my mid-2012 13" Macbook Pro with a 120GB SSD. My plan is to use the SSD for the OS and applications and then use the HDD for files. I have a Time Machine backup and a Super Duper clone of my HDD. However, I some questions about the easiest way to reformat the drives after the installation is complete.

The installation part is simple, and I will be putting the old optical drive in an enclosure so I can use via USB.

What I am wondering is how, using my existing backups, to get the OS and apps on the SSD (which will obviously be the bootable drive), and then just have the HDD consist of just my files.

It seems like the obvious answer is to simply install MacOS on the SSD, reinstall all my apps on the SSD, and then reformat the HDD and copy all my old files over to it via Time Machine.

However, before going through all of that, I am wondering if there is a more efficient way.

Here is the setup I am using.

Thanks, as always, for your help.
posted by 4ster to Computers & Internet (7 answers total)
Here's what I'd do:
1) Put SSD into external enclosure and copy OS and apps over with Super Duper
2) Check that I can boot from SSD as external
3) Install SSD and boot from it
4) Delete OS and apps from HDD
5) Make new time machine backup
posted by doctord at 8:27 AM on February 12, 2014

This is what I did on my system.

Installed the OS to the SSD
Created a second login ID for emergencies
Moved my home folder of my primary login to the internal HDD
Changed the settings so it uses the new path
Logged in with the new config. All operating system files and applications are on the fast SSD, all of my files are on the much larger HDD.
Bonus: When loading an app with preferences in your home folder, it can read both drives at the same time, making the system faster.

I restored all of the files from the Time Machine (external HDD) and went back to work.

Up to Snow Leopard I used a single drive, with Mountain Lion I started doing this. The upgrade to Mavericks went off without a hitch. An uneventful upgrade (as they all should be)
The second login is for disaster recovery if needed. If anything happens to the HDD, the primary login will not work. If you have a second login located on the SSD, you can use it to fix the system.
posted by Leenie at 8:45 AM on February 12, 2014

Best answer: Any reason you wouldn't set up a fusion drive?
posted by Good Brain at 10:13 AM on February 12, 2014

Response by poster: Good Brain, that is a fantastic idea. I am reading about how to do it here.
posted by 4ster at 10:37 AM on February 12, 2014

Doing the method that I described is more manual than using a Fusion drive. But if I ever want to change to a larger HDD, I only have to copy the contents of the smaller HDD to the new larger HDD and swap drives. Then it is a (for example) 128 GB SSD and 3 TB HDD combo, instead of the original 128 GB SSD and 512 GB combo. Easy upgrades, no reinstall needed.

Bonus, if the HDD dies, you can simply swap in a new one and restore from the Time Machine.
posted by Leenie at 10:51 AM on February 12, 2014

Best answer: I set up a Fusion drive on a Mac Mini about a year ago and it's fantastic. I used OWC's guide. As a result I have a system that's super fast for day-to-day operations on the OS, apps, and files. If I'm working on a huge file, the initial load may be slow, but subsequent accesses are super quick. If I had my files always on HDD, accessing those files would always be slow.
posted by zsazsa at 11:07 AM on February 12, 2014

Response by poster: Thanks everyone for your help. I used the OWC guide that zsazsa posted, and the only change I made was that I had already made a bootable Mavericks install on an 8GB thumbdrive. I had made two backups of my system, one in Time Machine, and one in Superduper, and when Migration Assistant asked me which to restore from, I just chose Superdupe,and everything went great.

After copying everything over, I enabled Trim Support, and was good to go.

The caveat that I learned, and this may save others some time, is that before starting all of this, you have to make sure you know the speed of your SSD and HHD, because as OWC points out, "Testing has demonstrated that Apple factory hardware does not reliably support a 6G (6Gb/s) Solid State Drive or Hard Disk Drive in the optical bay." So I made sure that the new SSD went in the old HDD bay, and that the new HDD I bought for the optical drive bay was only a 3G drive. I wasn't planning on buying a new HDD, but at least I was able to buy a drive with more capacity.

Also, I learned that Apple's DVD Player cannot play DVDs in an external enclosure, but VLC works fine for this.

Again, thanks everyone. This was a fun project.
posted by 4ster at 7:05 AM on February 15, 2014 [1 favorite]

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