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External SSD for iMac

Joined
Mar 8, 2014
Messages
14
#21
Ive been running my 2011 mac off an external SSD (a rugged Lacie thunderbolt drive from what I recall) for many years with no problems. I use the thunderbolt interface because my mac doesnt have a USB 3 port which I think would be important if it's going to run the primary OS.
 

bigboy529

Expert Member
Joined
Apr 23, 2012
Messages
2,744
#22
Ive been running my 2011 mac off an external SSD (a rugged Lacie thunderbolt drive from what I recall) for many years with no problems. I use the thunderbolt interface because my mac doesnt have a USB 3 port which I think would be important if it's going to run the primary OS.


For now I think I'll try this with my late 2013 iMac, I'll first test it with a external HDD before buying a external SSD. I'll probably go for USB 3 rather than thunderbolt though, simply because USB 3 is much more readily available and less expensive.
My iMac is already 4 years old and 5 year old technology, so I don't want to pump more money in to it plus it's not my primary machine anymore. If I get a external SSD I can at least use it for other things as well if the iMac eventually gets retired.
 

Spizz

Goat Botherer
Joined
Jan 19, 2009
Messages
21,214
#23
For now I think I'll try this with my late 2013 iMac, I'll first test it with a external HDD before buying a external SSD. I'll probably go for USB 3 rather than thunderbolt though, simply because USB 3 is much more readily available and less expensive.
My iMac is already 4 years old and 5 year old technology, so I don't want to pump more money in to it plus it's not my primary machine anymore. If I get a external SSD I can at least use it for other things as well if the iMac eventually gets retired.
I bought a 500gb Samsung 850 EVO as mentioned previously, then decided to hedge my bets and bought a caddy also so I can give the external boot a shot first before deciding whether to put the mac through surgery.

The caddy is so sweet it's incredible.

https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B00IJNDBM4/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o00_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

I'm flying home from UK tonight so will be trying out over the weekend.
 

bigboy529

Expert Member
Joined
Apr 23, 2012
Messages
2,744
#24
I bought a 500gb Samsung 850 EVO as mentioned previously, then decided to hedge my bets and bought a caddy also so I can give the external boot a shot first before deciding whether to put the mac through surgery.

The caddy is so sweet it's incredible.

https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B00IJNDBM4/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o00_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

I'm flying home from UK tonight so will be trying out over the weekend.
]


Another win, I remembered about a 256 GB M.2 SSD I still have lying around never used, so all this will cost me is R300 or so for a external M.2 SSD enclosure.
Will order one today and give feedback as soon as I get everything up and running.
 

Spizz

Goat Botherer
Joined
Jan 19, 2009
Messages
21,214
#25
]


Another win, I remembered about a 256 GB M.2 SSD I still have lying around never used, so all this will cost me is R300 or so for a external M.2 SSD enclosure.
Will order one today and give feedback as soon as I get everything up and running.
I got the caddy last night, plugged in the SSD and it is up and running in seconds. What a great little piece of kit it is, I'm super impressed.
 

Nefertiti

Honorary Master
Joined
Oct 12, 2005
Messages
17,614
#26
I bought a 500gb Samsung 850 EVO as mentioned previously, then decided to hedge my bets and bought a caddy also so I can give the external boot a shot first before deciding whether to put the mac through surgery.

The caddy is so sweet it's incredible.

https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B00IJNDBM4/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o00_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

I'm flying home from UK tonight so will be trying out over the weekend.
Let me know if the boot from external works for you so that I know it is possible :)
 

CPTBoy

Senior Member
Joined
Dec 1, 2011
Messages
910
#28
Let me know if the boot from external works for you so that I know it is possible :)
You can boot from an external drive. Hold down Alt when hearing the chime and select the drive ( once installed ).

Then in macOS set that as the startup disk and you are sorted.
 

Nefertiti

Honorary Master
Joined
Oct 12, 2005
Messages
17,614
#29
You can boot from an external drive. Hold down Alt when hearing the chime and select the drive ( once installed ).

Then in macOS set that as the startup disk and you are sorted.
I mentioned before that I tried it with and old macbook and couldnt get it to work but I suspect it was just that particular macbook that had an issue.
 

CPTBoy

Senior Member
Joined
Dec 1, 2011
Messages
910
#31
I mentioned before that I tried it with and old macbook and couldnt get it to work but I suspect it was just that particular macbook that had an issue.
Very old macbook's didn't support booting via USB.

Just remember you either need to clone to that external drive or do a new install on the external drive for it to work.
 

Spizz

Goat Botherer
Joined
Jan 19, 2009
Messages
21,214
#32
Update: I'm in the middle of doing stuff and am not getting the time I need to finish the job, but here's a run down so far. Maybe someone can advise if they have any solutions later on.

First up, I installed a fresh copy of High Sierra onto the SSD and switched the boot order so the thing is a whole lot faster now and running smooth. Very simple process and pretty painless. I would recommend this to anyone with these slow HDDs, it really is a super smooth process and the results are fantastic.

That's for you Titi, easy peasy.

BUT, where I sit now and what I have to do is a bit more complicated. It would be easy to format the HDD and use it as storage, but this machine is first and foremost used for photography and it has an existing photo library I need to keep and use, so I need to have Lightroom and Photoshop moved onto the SDD before doing this.

So before touching or changing anything on the HDD I downloaded and installed the Adobe Application Manager and then did a fresh install of Lightroom and Photoshop to the SSD. So far so good. I pointed new Lightroom towards the existing library on the HDD and it all worked fine. First problem popped into my head, if I want to format HDD, then I have to rethink this and move the library temporarily and back again after format.

Next problem is that it's now not possible to open Photoshop directly from Lightroom for editing. I've had quick google search and there are several reasons why. No doubt it's to do with Library being on a different drive from the apps. I'll need to look at that in the next day or two but there are two problems that I need to fix if I am to run the apps on one drive, and the library on another.

So that's where I sit now. I had thought just to stop what I'm doing, format the SSD, clone the HDD onto it and then find a way to move the library to the HDD again. Does anyone know if this will work and will I just have the same problems again? Library is about 300gb.
 

bigboy529

Expert Member
Joined
Apr 23, 2012
Messages
2,744
#33
Sorry for the late update, only got around to this today.

As previously mentioned I have a late 2013 iMac and decided to use a external SSD as boot drive rather than slicing open the iMac to replace the internal HDD. Fortunately I had a 256 GB M.2 SSD lying around which I actually kind of forgot about, so I only had to buy a external USB-3 M.2 SSD enclosure.

I installed High Sierra on to the SSD today and restored all my data from a Time Machine backup, this process is very straight forward.

My iMac runs like a beast now, boot up is almost as fast as my 2015 MBP which is a i7 quad core with double the RAM and in general use it is nice and snappy. The SSD definitely gave it a new lease on life without having to slice it open to replace the internal HDD.

I'd recommend this to anyone if you have a machine which you can't easily open to upgrade the internals.
 
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