Questions about Dual Hard Drives in Mac Mini

in Genius Bar edited May 2015

Hi. I'm interested in buying a used Mac Mini that I saw posted on Craigs List. It's from 2011 and has two internal drives: a 128GB SSD drive and a 500GB normal hard drive.


My questions are these:


On my current Mac, my Applications folder is 30GB and my user folder is 200GB. So I can't fit all of my files on the 128GB SSD of the Mac Mini.


So, it is possible to split up my user files and my applications between the two drives on the Mac Mini?


Could I put my Applications folder on the SSD drive, and my Documents folder on the SSD drive, but put all my other folders, including the rest of my user files, on the 500GB drive? Or do all those folders need to be on the same volume?


Also, can I use Time Machine to back up both drives at once on one external drive?






  • Reply 1 of 4
    linkmanlinkman Posts: 1,034member

    You can put the OS, applications, Documents, and other other files on any drive that you wish. You are unlikely to run into any problems on OS X with files residing on different drives unlike Windows and many applications refusing to work on anything but the C: drive. You may find that your best peformance would be obtained by using the two drives and configuring them as a Fusion drive. OS X will put files on the drive that obtains most optimal results based on file usage, space requirements, etc. You would not have to manage which drive has which type of file or folder. The two drives would appear as a single volume to the user. The OS would put the more frequently used files on the faster drive (presumably the SSD) and manage it transparently.


    If the drives are configured as a single volume Time Machine would be able to save to a single Time Machine image. I haven't experimented a whole lot with TM but if your drives are independent as you propose you might have to partition the backup drive into multiple partitions so there would be no conflict between the two TM images. I have been using TM to backup my Mac and using the same external drive with a different partition to backup a Windows PC -- one partititon is HFS+ and the other NTFS. I even use Firewire for the Mac connection and USB for the PC (but not simultaneously).


    It might be possible to have TM backup two volumes onto a single partition -- but someone else would need to confirm that since I am totally unsure if it can be configured that way.

  • Reply 2 of 4
    mirskymirsky Posts: 30member

    linkman, thanks a lot. Your post was very helpful!

  • Reply 3 of 4
    mbmcavoymbmcavoy Posts: 157member

    Originally Posted by linkman View Post

    It might be possible to have TM backup two volumes onto a single partition -- but someone else would need to confirm that since I am totally unsure if it can be configured that way.


    I can confirm that Time Machine will easily backup multiple volumes at the same time. If you go into the backup, it will show the state of the computer, including all backed-up drives.


    FYI, you can also select folders to exclude from the backup if you are concerned about space. For example, I don't back up my iTunes videos since they are big, change frequently, and are completely replaceable.

  • Reply 4 of 4
    mirskymirsky Posts: 30member

    Thanks everyone for replying. I've decided not to get the used Mac Mini. I ordered a refurbished 2014 model last week and it arrived but I was thinking of returning it and getting and older used one. But I finally  decided against the used one. I do have a few questions about the new Mini but I've posted them in a new thread. Thanks again!

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