MacFilter: What procedures would allow a User directory to exist on an external hard drive?
October 18, 2006 6:49 AM   Subscribe

MacFilter: What procedures would allow a User directory to exist on an external hard drive?

I have a Mac mini with a 100GB hard drive. I currently have a set up such as:

(0) Start Up Disk (100GB)
(1) Not the Start Up Disk (320GB)

I have over 120GB of personal files, which I would like to eventually organize into my User directory. These are music files, email correspondence, work, resumes, pdfs, essentially the last six years of my life (almost). The problem is, obviously, there are more files than there is hard drive.

What procedures would allow me to move or create a User directory on the external hard drive? Or, if I did move the current User, would this break iTunes libraries, preferences, font libraries, application preferences, et cetera; could that be avoided? Would a simple alias (link, whatever you call 'em) work, or would this require Unix tweaks?

Thanks for your help Mefites!
posted by Colloquial Collision to Computers & Internet (9 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Like this?
posted by plinth at 6:55 AM on October 18, 2006

Best answer: You can also do this by changing the value saved in netinfo. You should read up on netinfo before mucking around with it though. Editing the location here lets you have different user home directories on different hard drives for example.
posted by chunking express at 7:07 AM on October 18, 2006

Best answer: I did this for a while with my Mac Mini, using the NetInfo method. I had a 40 GB internal and 160 GB external. It was EXCELLENT, except for exactly one time when my dog managed to unplug my external drive while I was logged in to a user stored on the external drive. Basically all hell broke loose, and it took me a few hours poking around on the web and in NetInfo to get it fixed. So just watch out for that.
posted by cebailey at 7:54 AM on October 18, 2006

There's no reason you have to store everything in your user directory. I have separate external hard disks for music, video, photos, etc. I store very little in my actual user directory.
posted by kindall at 8:18 AM on October 18, 2006

Kindall makes a good point. When I had an iBook, I had most of my big media elsewhere. This is a lot more painless to do. (Now that I have an iMac everything sits in my home folder.)

Moving your home folder is handy when you want to reformat and upgrade though, since you can keep it on its own partition, or external HD in your case.
posted by chunking express at 9:01 AM on October 18, 2006

To avoid precisely the problem described by cebailey (which can crop up due to any simple Firewire/USB problem, or difficulties with the external drive itself), I keep my home directory on my primary drive, and simply keep my movies, music, and photos on an external drive. iMovie, iPhoto, and iTunes are perfectly happy to have you keep those folders wherever you like -- just move the folders for each application onto your external drive, and next time you fire up each program it'll have you point it to the new location.
posted by waldo at 9:28 AM on October 18, 2006

Best answer: I just symlink the "big" subdirectories to a directory on another drive. It works great.

For example, to move your Movies to a drive named "Maxtor320"

in the terminal:

$ mv /Users/yourname/Movies /Volumes/Maxtor320
$ ln -s /Volumes/Maxtor320/Movies /Users/yourname/Movies

Easy, done, and transparent to OSX.
posted by Invoke at 9:46 AM on October 18, 2006

Response by poster: Thanks, these are really great suggestions. I have some “pairing(?)” issues with the drive. (I think the drive thinks it's connected with my Apple Cinema Display and not my Mac mini).

I'll try these out when have more time, thanks everyone!
posted by Colloquial Collision at 5:10 AM on October 19, 2006

Response by poster: Thanks everyone.

I eventually went with the NetInfo method. It works great.
posted by Colloquial Collision at 3:58 PM on October 21, 2006

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