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OWC Introduces “techKNOWlogy” Video Series

One of the things that we constantly get comments on are our Instructional Series of videos, which show you how to install memory, hard drives, and other upgrades into your Mac.

Now, we’d like to announce our new series, techKNOWlogy, which, instead of concentrating on the physical installation, looks more at using your Mac once your new hardware is already installed. In each episode, one of our OWC staffers will walk you through one of a wide range of topics – from showing you how to create a backup plan for your home computer to explaining the benefits and drawbacks to different RAID configurations.

For our first episode, we’re addressing a common scenario: if you’re adding a faster second drive (such as an SSD/Data Doubler kit), how do you set up your Mac so that the OS runs off the faster (but probably smaller) drive while seamlessly keeping your data files on the (probably larger) original drive?

Well, we’ve put together a method to make sure everything gets where it needs to go and OWC Vic will walk you through it, step by step.

Check it out below and be sure to stop back here at the OWC Blog often for more updates.

OWC Chris S.
the authorOWC Chris S.
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  • Hi,
    Just upgraded my mbp 6.2 (2010) to a Samsung EVO 250GB SSD. I backed up the original to time machine, removed it, installed the SSD, restored from backup so that I could keep the original as a back-up drive. Things are working well and I have about 190GB free. Moving forward I’d like to purchase the 750GB sshd / data doubler package to replace my optical drive. The end result Im looking for is to have the SSD partitioned with a 64-bit windows OS and my mavericks, with the sshd as an internal storage drive. My question really has to do with the order of operations here. Should I partition first through bootcamp (using the disk drive for windows install), then install data doubler? Will I have to do any special formatting of the sshd in order to be able to save both windows and mac files to it? If this question has already been answered somewhere can you point me to that link. Thanks!

    • You can install the Data Doubler first if you wish, it won’t hurt anything. Really you can install the Data Doubler or setup Boot Camp first, either way works. The Boot Camp Assistant will be inclined to set everything up on the SSD anyway since the Mac OS is already there, even if you have a second drive installed.

      To allow both OSs to read and write to the second drive does require some special formatting or software. You can either partition the drive into two pieces, one Windows and one Mac. Alternatively you can set it up for MSDOS (FAT) or ExFAT partitioning to allow both OSs to work off the same volume. The third option is to keep the whole drive Mac formatted – MacOS Extended (Journaled) – and then use software such as MacDrive 9 Pro to allow the Windows OS to interact with the Mac formatted drive.

      If you have any additional questions, please contact our tech support team via phone at 800-869-9152, or 815-338-8685 internationally; by chat; or by e-mail.

  • I have just purchased a new 13″ macbook with Mavericks. I want to install 2 SSDs, a small one in the main drive and a larger one in the optical with the Data Doubler. I am wondering if any of the steps will be different because I am:

    1) Working with a different OS version
    2) Starting with no data on the drives (although this may be similar to Daniel’s question above)
    3) Working with 2 SSD instead of SSD/HDD

    I am a novice with this stuff and any additional direction would be much appreciated.


    • Should be no problem at all. This method will work with any two drives on any OS after 10.5, be they 2 SSDs, 2 HDDs, or one of each. We mention one of each because that’s the most popular setup.

      With that said, though, since this will bean a clean install (with no data transfer), it may be easier to work in the other direction – do a clean install of the OS on the one drive and then just redirect the home folder to the other drive.

      We have a walkthrough of this process from this direction on our site. By doing it this way, you don’t have to worry about the second recovery partition.

      There will still be some copying involved (as there’s some preferences and the like that will still be transferred from the original account that get created when you set it up, as well as bringing over the proper Home Directory folder structure), but it should take considerably less time than if you were bringing over an account full of files.

  • I have a partion running window 7 on my current HDD. And i have bought a new ssd.

    So do I need to remove the window 7 partion before proceeding with the migration of data or just left it as it is?

    Still able to boot camp window 7 from the HDD?

    • Your Windows partition will be unaffected by performing this. Only the Mac OS is modified in this setup. Just be careful when erase the recovery partition through Disk Utility. You do not want to accidentily erase or merge your recovery partition with your Windows partition

    • I have this setup myself, and updated as soon as Mavericks came out. The process is exceedingly simple: just run the installer like you normally would. :-D

      Since the relocation is handled/supported by the system natively, as long as you’re not swapping drives around, your reallocation will carry over into the new upgrade.

  • Did the switch. Everything seems to work fine EXCEPT THE MESSAGING. I simply can’t get the messaging application to send and receive messages. The app works fine on the bootadmin account, which i enabled for messaging after i found that my main account didn’t work. I checked all the settings: they are exactly the same. I repaired all the permissions, no luck. I really don’t want to reinstall mountain lion, so please help me with this.

    • It’s odd that you are having such trouble with Messages – this should appear to the System the same way a Home folder on the same drive does. Just to check, though, I checked it out on my own MacBook Pro (where I’ve had this kind of setup for years) and Messages seems to work just fine, at least via Bonjour and AIM, and I’m able to sign in with iMessage, so it’s kind of hard to say what’s wrong.

      Unfortunately, the Blog comments section is not an effective place for troubleshooting individual problems. The only thing I can suggest is try actually deleting all the accounts and adding them back in again – its possible that there was a corruption of a file somewhere along the way.

  • I ran into major permissions problems with the library folder on my old drive. Are there any simple commands from terminal to fix the library folder and it’s enclosing files and folders?

    • If the command-line version of Disk Utility doesn’t work (diskutil repairPermissions /), and if you’re in Lion or later you may want to try using the Reset Password Utility, as outlined here. We’ve had mixed results with this, from it working beautifully, to doing nothing useful, to actually borking a user’s directory. So If you’re going to try it, you had best have those files backed up.
      If that utility doesn’t work (or if you’re in Snow Leopard or earlier), then you may want to check out this thread on the Apple Support Forums.

    • Actually, the instructions we’re showing only remove the Recovery Partition from the original drive, which just contains the data. When you do a fresh install of Lion or later (which we recommend), it will create a Recovery Partition on whichever drive you’re installing the OS. That would leave us with two versions of the recovery partition.

      Like we say at 9:33, while there’s nothing necessarily wrong with having two of them, it’s kind of redundant. Further, subsequent software updates may not necessarily update the Recovery Partition that’s on the non-boot drive, so they may become out of sync.

      Removing the “extra” Recovery Partition from the non-booting drive gives you more space, leaves you just the one Recovery Partition to worry about, and still allows you to use “Find My Mac” and other Recovery Partition-dependent features, since there is still one on your boot drive.

      I hope that clears things up.

  • I have this dual SSD/HD setup in my old MacBook Pro and I’m in the process of migrating to a newly purchased MacBook Pro with the same dual SSD/HD setup. How do I go about migrating my data files (in old HD) to the new computer’s HD while migrating my applications to the new SSD?

    I’ve tried selecting my old SSD while setting up the new computer (via migration assistant), but this does not transfer my data files (as they are located in my HD and aren’t even recognized).

    Do I have to clone my old HD to my new HD and then migrate my applications from the old SSD to the new SSD after I reinstall the OS? Would relinking my home directory to the cloned HD work?

  • I’d like to try this set-up, but from a different starting point. Right now I have 10.6 on a Macbook Pro late 2008 (2.4ghz). My plan is to take two clean drives (one them with owc data doubler) and install them with Mountain Lion when it’s released. I’ll add old files and apps as needed, but I don’t want to automatically transfer everything.

    I imagine the instructions for me would significantly simpler, but I’m not sure of how to do what I wish to do. Can you help me out?



    • Before we go into this, you should remember that any applications will have to be reinstalled from the source discs, which will require an external drive if you’re installing a Data Doubler.

      You’ll still want to set it up as instructed, but rather than redirecting your home folder to an existing one on the other drive, you’ll need to copy the main account’s Home folder on the boot drive over to the new drive, as it should have the proper hidden files as well; don’t forget that in 10.7 and later, your user’s Library folder is hidden. As such, using the cp command in Terminal may be the best way to go for this.

      Once you’ve copied the Home folder over, continue on with the steps as outlined.

  • Great guide, but I’ve so fear to upgrade my mbp 17…

    In fact I work with images, and I’ve 300 gb. Also if I use iPhoto, I use also Lightroom, so my images are stored on my preferred folders, and they’re not managed by iPhoto.
    My fear is to loose every links to my pictures from inside iPhoto (Yes until 2 years ago I was windows user…).

    Do you guarantee that following your great guide I will have all my connection back from inside iPhoto?



    • Setting up the system this way should not make your photos disappear from iPhoto, just store them on the secondary drive. It’s very similar to keeping your iPhoto library on a separate portable drive which we showed how to do on the OWC Blog.
      It is always suggested that you make a backup copy of the drive before you begin, just in case anything does go awry (not that it would be anticipated) – you’ll still have the backup to restore from.

  • Two questions (after having used my MBP with the setup you describe in the video. Really love when I’m accessing the SSD, it’s so fast. Not quite so crazy about when I’m having to access my files off my 7200 RPM HDD, but faster overall than before the SSD):

    1 How will I install Mountain Lion? Will I only install files ML to the SSD? Does the installer need to put any files in my user Library? How does that all work?

    2 TimeMachine is able to happily access and backup both SSD and HDD to a single backup drive, but today was the first time I used Carbon Copy Cloner on this new setup. I only was able to backup the drive that contained my user data. Is there a technique that works to back up both drives in a fashion that could be used to restore back to an SSD and an HDD. As I type this, it seems like even the TimeMachine would have a challenge getting it split back to the two drives. Any comments?

    Thanks again! Looking forward to seeing how this all works.

      • Thanks for your prompt reply! Reading my remarks again I realize it may sound like I don’t like the dual drive setup, but I really do! Using apps like FCP X is amazing. Also, I do temporary Aperture Libraries on the SSD and am astounded at how fast 500 photos can be imported from the SD card to the SSD.

        Sorry I wasn’t clear with my question about Mountain Lion installation, I will be installing to the SSD that is currently running Lion in the dual drive setup described in the video. I will have made a FireWire install disc from the InstallESD.dmg file in the ML install application as described in various places for the Lion installer, which I understand will also work for the new beast.

        I just want to make sure that I can point the ML installer at the Startup Disk (SSD without my main user- which is on the HDD, but with the bootAdmin user) and have it install everything where it needs to be to work for my HDD user.

        I set up this system after the 10.7.4 update (and installed from the InstallESD.dmg for that latest OS), so I’ve not had the opportunity to even update the OS with this system, but assume it does work as I don’t see remarks of dismay over the months from OS updates not working for the HDD Users.

        Thanks for the CCC link- my concern is it is talking about “Data” and I’m talking about my User folder with its Library, etc. If I had my HDD fail, would I be able to clone the contents of that Data folder to the new HDD and have my User recognized by the SSD’s OS? I hope to never have to find out!

        Thanks again.

        • I believe I can answer the first part of the question relatively simply. I initially had this setup on my MacBook Pro with 10.6. When I finally got around to upgrading to Lion, all I did was run the installer (also from an external drive made from InstallESD.img), selecting the boot drive as the location, and everything transferred over. Since I don’t have Mountain Lion yet, I can’t speak to its behavior, but I couldn’t see it behaving any differently. As for software updates, I’ve had this setup since 10.2 on my old Wallstreet PowerBook G3 and I’ve never had a glitch in the process.

          As for being able to replace drive using cloned information, there shouldn’t be any trouble if you rename your new drive with the same name as the one it’s replacing. Even if there *is* an issue, it’s simple enough to resolve. Simply boot to your “emergency” account (the one that exists solely on the SSD) and re-do the redirection steps (about 6:42-7:10 in the video).

          • Thank you for the concise info. I am looking forward to the new beast!

            I traveled immediately after creating this setup and have yet to get my CCC system totally in place, although I have been running my TimeMachine. It’s good to get everything in order.

  • I´m a bit confused. I´m getting ready to do this exact upgrade myself (SSD+HDD). I had figured BEFORE I did the physical switches, I do a Time Machine backup (on an external drive), then format the “old HDD” drive. Then do the switch, and then using USB Lion to install OSX on the SSD, and leave data for the HDD. Do I really have to mess around with all these accounts and stuff. Do you really need an OSX on the HDD if it´s already located on the SSD. I figured the system would just use the HDD to “pick up” files, and everything really runs off the SSD.

    • Actually, when the entire process is completed, you will have the OS and apps on the faster SSD and your files on the HDD. The presence of OS X on the HDD is only temporary during the setup process; we erase that part at the end.

      Formatting the drive will erase the data on the drive along with the OS. That’s fine, except that when you try and bring it back via Time Machine, you’ll wind up putting all your data on the SSD, which kind of defeats the purpose of the backup. Unfortunately, Apple thinks along the lines of “everything is all on one drive.” This method gets around that.

      The extra account serves two purposes. First, it allows you to make changes to your main account, which will let it point to the HDD, where your files would be. Second, it acts as a fallback account that’s on the SSD alone, in case the HDD fails. It also works nicely for capturing data directly to the SSD in apps like Garage Band, making it easy to capture and transfer, rather than mucking about with aliases, though our video covers that, too.

      We tested this method quite extensively before making this video. It’s the same method I used when setting up my personal MacBook Pro, and I haven’t had any problems with it at all. As long as you follow the instructions as given, neither should you.

  • Great video, thanks for putting it together, I’d been looking for some concise help like this. Whoda, I thought he said the same, only to realize that actually he says “deselect…”.
    In my case, all went well except when I got to Migration Assistant, the “less than a minute remaining” went on for hours so I rebooted from the hard drive in the Data Doubler. I tried it three times, the last time repairing disk permissions with Disk Utility first, but always the same result.
    Looking at my Boot Drive, the Applications, Library, System, and Users/bootadmin/Shared folders are there, although the Library and System folders vary slight in size from the originals. There are two other folders in the SSD Boot Drive which I don’t see on the original hard drive, ‘home’ and ‘net’, and they are both empty. Restarting from the Boot Drive leads me to the apple registration, and the internet password doesn’t work.
    So, to sum it up, Migration Assistant did not finish it’s job and I am yet unable to reap the benefits of my new SSD. Any words of wisdom? Is there another way besides Migration Assistant?
    Thanks a lot!

    • When you say you tried it three times, did your perform the full install from scratch or just run Migration Assistant three times? In the case of the latter, you may want to try the full reinstall again, just to be sure it isn’t a borked install of MA.

      However, if you’ve done the install, then my guess is that it’s probably something on the file level that’s choking up Migration Assistant. While I’ve not personally run across this issue on any of the dozens of times I’ve run Migration Assistant over the years, it’s not beyond the realm of possibility.

      The first thing that comes to mind is that, somehow, there’s more being transferred to the new SSD than it can hold. If you have a smaller SSD (say, a 60GB) and a LOT of applications, this is a possibility; you may want to go through that list of applications in MA and uncheck the ones you don’t want/need. The only other thing I can think of is that you may have accidentally selected your main account to come over; that’ll fill up a smaller SSD right quick.

      There’s no other real good solution for bringing just your apps over to your new SSD; cloning will bring over everything (space problems again). The only other option after that is to do a clean install, make your admin account in the Apple setup screen, and then install apps manually. Once you’ve done that, you can proceed with creating your user account and redirecting to your original drive. It’s a huge pain to do so, but if MA isn’t working correctly, that may be your only recourse.

      • Chris, thanks for the speedy reply. Yes, I did perform the full install from scratch, formatting/partitioning the SSD before each time. Space should not be a problem, Applications, Library and System total up to 38G, and I have a 60G SSD. I have used Migration Assistant many times and never had a problem.Perhaps I have a bad file somewhere causing the problem? I’ll let you know if I have any luck.

      • Hello Chris,
        In the end I created the Boot Admin account and Carbon Copy Cloned my hard drive, with no need for Migration Assistant, which was not working for me anyways. First I moved all my files (photos, music, etc) to another hard drive, and put the size down enough to copy my entire Mac to the SSD. Then I put my files back on the original hard drive and went to the Advanced Options in the Users panel to change the location of my Home folder just like in the video. Now it all works great – thanks for the help!
        But one more question. Besides Time Machine, I would like to have the added security of a back up bootable copy done with Carbon Copy Cloner. Any way to do that, seeing as how my Mac in now on two seperate hard drives? My SSD is 60 G, my internal drive is 500 G and I have a 500 G external hard drive to make the bootable CCC clone. Should I partition the external hard drive to 60 and 420 G and do two seperate clones? Perhaps you have a better idea.
        Thanks in advance!

        • Carbon Copy Cloner can certainly handle backing up multiple drives to the same backup volume. See the “I want to back up my startup disk and a data volume to the same
          backup disk” section of the CCC documentation for complete details on how.

  • What about Timemachine after you set up a boot drive and second drive for data? Will Timemachine back up both drives?

  • Suggestions: Forget the face shots and music, they are distractions.
    Use your graphics to show the partitions and the before and after
    of the disk uses and overview of the steps.


  • What happens with Windows 7 if this transfer of home folder is performed? Can the Bootcamp be reinstalled and work? Thank you for this nice instructional video and answering my questions!

  • Nice video. I’ve contemplated this process a lot but I’ve never actually got a chance to do it yet.

    I’ve wondered, what is the advantage of this way over say, symbolic links?

    Also, I’m a bit tired so I could be wrong, but about 5 min into the video he says, “select everything EXCEPT the Boot Admin account”, and then he selects only the Boot Admin account.

    Look forward to more videos.

    • I thought the same thing, too. It conflicted with the info in the sidebar stickie. He actually says “deselect” the other user accounts.