A Mac Pro Guy Getting By in an iMac World: Storage

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Recently I decommissioned my much beloved Mac Pro which served as a lowly file server since I moved to my loaded 27-inch iMac last year. The iMac is working out great though I would have still preferred a new Mac Pro for it’s overall expandability, particular to this post — it’s extra hard drive bays.

On the iMac, I use the 256 GB SSD for my boot drive and have the second internal 2 TB (disk-based) drive partitioned into three other drives, one for a nightly SuperDuper! mirror of said SSD, another for a Time Machine backup and then the final one for 700 GB of misc storage. This “misc storage” used to be for my iTunes library and backups of large downloads like Xcode/Mac OS X installs, but that’s changed now as you’ll see below so I might roll this back into the Time Machine partition or rework it to have a Windows Bootcamp drive again (like I had on my Mac Pro).

All in all, the built-in storage I get with the iMac works fine for day-to-day work but I still needed something for my archives: my monthly backup of cloud/server assets, archives of my video/screencast work and my iTunes library (which has ballooned with WWDC videos and slides).

For a while I debated getting a Drobo, particularly one of the newer Thunderbolt versions. From the outside it looks like a great system but at $850 with no hard drives included I just couldn’t justify it. So what did I end up with?

I bought a pair of Western Digital, My Passport, 2TB Portable External Hard Drives ($139 on Amazon). My digital closet sizes up at around 800 GB right now so I expect these should meet my needs for a good while. I got two of them and use one as my main archive drive and then the other to backup the main. They use USB 3.0 for transfer and while the speed isn’t crazy awesome, it totally meets my needs. I love the small form factor and the fact they do not need an additional power supply. I often throw the backup one in my bag for IndyHall if I’d like to have my iTunes library with me (it’s way to big for my MacBook Air’s SSD). I also love that I’m not using some complex RAID format. I can plug these drives into any Mac and get access to my files.

Anyways, I’ve been using these drives for three months now and all is working well. If you are in the market for some extra external storage, I highly recommend. I’m actually considering buying a third to start a rotation of sorts at IndyHall. With that I believe I’d be safe losing all my home gear to a theft or fire and still have all my digital stuff safe.