Question How best to use an iMac with small internal SSD/ external HD for photo storage

Fulwood

Active Member
I want to use an iMac with a 256Gb internal SSD for photo editing and subsequent storage.

Means that if I want off-line storage and access to my pictures I need to use an external hard drive as the internal will soon be filled. Fair enough, a 2tb external isn't very expensive so I've just bought one, formatted it in Mac HFS and can now use it store my pics.

My question concerns how best to use the two drives in combination for easy access by my family to our photos.

What's best option in your opinion?

1. Create a fusion drive.
2. JBOD RAID.
3. My preferred option is to keep the two disks separated and create something equivalent to a Windows Library for our photos (where you can link files in different folders/drives to one library).

In option 3 I would like any photo folders to appear in the Pictures folder and for the Pictures folder to store my Mac Photos Library(s) (we use Mac Photos to view/edit our pics). How can I do this, as at the moment you have to navigate to the external HD to access and store pictures? Some family members are unhappy to navigate their way through the folder system and would prefer just to click on Pictures older and see all the pictures stored there.

Option 1 & 2 means that any photo folders will appear in my Pictures folder (providing I post the pics there) regardless of their actual location.

Comments/alternatives appreciated.

Thanks
Henry

PS I'm wanting to keep all our pictures as unedited RAWs/JPEGs in date taken folders as well as in Mac Photos Libraries in case I want to swap from Mac to Windows in the future. These photo original folders to be visible in my Pictures folder.
 
Last edited:

CamFire

Distinguished Member
Have a closer look at the use of "alias". The usage is the same as its original incarnation in Unix systems - remember, MacOS is based on Unix. Right-click on a folder and invoke "Make Alias". Some help here - How to Make a Shortcut (Alias) on a Mac .

Moving the Pictures folder to the larger drive and then aliasing this onto the account home area should do the trick.
 

Fulwood

Active Member
Have a closer look at the use of "alias". The usage is the same as its original incarnation in Unix systems - remember, MacOS is based on Unix. Right-click on a folder and invoke "Make Alias". Some help here - How to Make a Shortcut (Alias) on a Mac .

Moving the Pictures folder to the larger drive and then aliasing this onto the account home area should do the trick.
THanks for that, looks like a very useful feature.

I'm thinking about creating a fusion drive using my internal NVME SSD and an external spinning HD.
 

CamFire

Distinguished Member
Er, a fusion drive comprising an internal NVMe SSD with an external HDD? I get it if the HDD is internal but...
 

Fulwood

Active Member
Er, a fusion drive comprising an internal NVMe SSD with an external HDD? I get it if the HDD is internal but...
Agreed that fusion drive with an internal spinner is ideal, BUT my imac only comes with a 256Gb NVME SSD with NO internal HD. IF am successful in creating FDrive then would Bootcamp it to run W10 and apps that don't work on Mac, means I can get rid of my PC.

Comments appreciated re advisability of what I'm proposing.
 

CamFire

Distinguished Member
In short - NOT a good idea. IMO, a fusion drive has the same risks as a RAID0 in that if either the NVMe and/or HDD falls over, your data is lost and your iMac cannot operate.

Also, if the external HDD disappears for any reason, the failure can be catastrophic.

Better off upgrading the NVMe to a larger drive, keep the use of aliases (with data actually on the external HDD).

EDIT: what iMac model are you using? Easy to upgrade the NVMe drive? Or is it another of those "soldered" storage ones...
 

Fulwood

Active Member
Thanks for your reply. my iMac is a 2014 5k retina. Believe that getting at the NVME is very difficult. Also the glass front has a crack on the extreme lhs, mostly along the bezel so it doesn't interfere with the picture. Means that I'd be very reluctant to allow the glass to be removed for NVME upgrading - it might break it completely.
So really only sensible solution is to use an external drive. What about using an SSD external rather than a spinner for a fusion drive?
 

CamFire

Distinguished Member
Sounds like your needs is best met with a Thunderbolt external drive (internally SATA) which you can swap the HDD for a SSD. Then use this external TB-SSD as a boot drive.

Or, a USB3.0 external enclosure which you can stick in a M2 SATA drive of a size of your choice (1TB costs less than £100).

(Man - had a quick look at iFixit.com on this iMac model, what a monster to upgrade anything!!)

I used to fusion-drive a 256GB SSD with a 1TB spinning HDD inside a MacPro 2009 but the hassle became needless when 500GB SSDs hit the £50 mark.
 

Fulwood

Active Member
Some progress to report!

I've created a fusion drive using the internal NVME drive with an external sata SSD mounted in a USB 3 to sata enclosure, now running Catalina 15.7. I checked both drives with Drive DX, the NVME reports as 94% life used and the slightly used SSD as 100%. Hopefully will last for a couple of years, by which time the iMac may also need replacing, also Drive DX should report back any drive problems before the system is compromised.

I've also used an externally mounted sata SSD in USB enclosure Win 10 installation using wintousb to give me a fully working version of W10.

OS selection by option key at boot.

Back up to Time Machine on WD My Cloud NAS and 6tb Seagate Desktop Expansion Drive, cloud storage of photos to iCloud & Amazon Pictures.

Have tested it out for a few days and both MacOS and W10 are running flawlessly.
 

CamFire

Distinguished Member
The move away from a spinning HDD for the fusion drive will improve performance. If you look around for a USB-enclosure-with-M2-SSD, there are choices aplenty for future improvements.
 

oneear

Active Member
Hi
I know you have already done it but I would refrain from a fusion drive with external HDD. In my case I opened the iMac 2009 and installed the HDD in the CD drive area. I then created symbolic links from each users home area to the HDD for photos. Similar to you I backup both drives to the Time Machine. For my friend’s iMac I added a Samsung SSD as an external drive and then used that as the boot drive. You could separate the drives and use symbolic links. That way the boot process will not be affected even if the HDD is not detected/fails. Just wanted to share my thoughts and experience with you.
 

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