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Thread: External Hard Drive Solution for New Mac Mini

  1. #1
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    External Hard Drive Solution for New Mac Mini

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    I just took the plunge and ordered a new Mac Mini to replace my archaic Mac Pro. I've read that it's prudent to use the Mini's included hard drive for the OS and applications, but that sample libraries and project files are best housed on an external SSD hard drive. Suffice it to say, external hard drive technology has come a long way since I last purchased one, and I'm lost.

    For starters, there's USB 3.1 and Thunderbolt 3. I would assume that TB3 is the best option in my case, as it offers the highest theoretical speed. I see that it's possible to purchase every manner of enclosure and adapter combination to hook up external storage now. I've mostly been focusing on Samsung drives, namely the 860, the 970, and the T5. When I start reading about EVO, PRO, NVMe, controllers, and form factor differences my head starts to spin. Some places claim that the 970 is several times faster than the 860/T5. Other places have said that it's pointless to buy a super fast drive like the 970 because something in the connection method bottlenecks the speed anyway, rendering it negligibly faster than much cheaper alternatives. It strikes me as more flexible and cost effective to purchase an internal drive + an appropriate enclosure, in effect creating an external drive. I'm not even positive that good enclosures for adapting an NVMe drive into a TB3 external drive exist. Portability isn't especially important for me; I just need a reliable, fast, preferably quiet drive to sit in one spot and hold data. Is the 970 NVMe with an enclosure, connected via TB3, my best bet?

    Secondarily... it's a bit over my head to even broach the topic, but I've wondered about the best manner to regularly and reliably back-up one's system. Do most of you use multiple drives in some sort of array so that if one fails, the others retain your data? Have you moved over to relying on cloud storage?

    Obviously, technology isn't my strong suit. I only delve into it because it's a prerequisite for recording music, which is the part I love. Feel free to laugh at my ignorance, but please show a little mercy and point me in the right direction. Thanks in advance for any help you provide! )

  2. #2
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    No one will laugh! There's a lot of information, and misinformation.

    There was a very similar thread recently where I suggested that an external drive might not be necessary at all, for workflow anyway.
    Is it a 2018 Mac Mini? If so, the internal SSD is PCI-e and silly-fast.
    How intense is your work?
    If you're talking about average home-recordist stuff...20-40 tracks, handful of plugs, few instruments, it shouldn't break a sweat.

    If you have huge sample libraries, relative to the system disc size, then sure an external's going to be needed,
    but if they're a manageable size don't discount just running everything in the box.

    For storage/backup you could just get a big-ass spinning disc in an enclosure, any enclosure, and either manually backup periodically or use TimeMachine to keep it rolling,
    but you mentioned fast and quiet so I'd look at SataIII SSDs.
    Bottlenecking shouldn't be a consideration there because they're going to top out at 500-550MBps anyway.
    If you think an external drive is going to need to be faster than that then disregard, but that's plenty fast for most people.

    I don't think there's any real point in splashing out for M.2 storage and a high end enclosure unless you're going to be pushing around double-figure gigabytes daily.

    Just my thoughts; Hope something in there is useful.
    ---------- Steenaudio Website ----------

  3. #3
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    USB 3.x is more than fast enough.

    If you want quiet you need SSDs or put your drives in a closet. Iíve got spinning (7200rpm) media at the end of a 15í cable and itís working.

    Yes you need backup whatever you do. Me, Iím using mirrored drives for projects with periodic cloud backup.

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