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Mac Mini Question

Discussion in 'off topic' started by wiresandmore, Sep 15, 2022.

  1. wiresandmore

    wiresandmore pfm Member


    I am starting the process of moving our messy photo collection into photos on iCloud - with the eventual plan to have family albums etc.

    I was a long time Windows user and bought an M1 Air 256 to start learning/dabbling. I've started to move things and it's fine but I am already running out of space on the Mac. I think I probably need 700GB+ of working disk space to do this, as I have 20 years of photos/videos and a lot of duplicates to work through.

    So I could do this on a 1TB laptop but I think a large monitor, KB and mouse would be good. I am looking at some pretty cheap Mac Mini M1's (looking at 16GB/512 spec) to which I understand I can add one of those docks, putting an SSD inside and link via USB-C. Does anyone run a Mini like this and are there major drawbacks I should factor in?

  2. deebster

    deebster Half Man Half Biscuit

    Yep, you can connect USB external drives just like with a PC. They match with the mini well I agree, and if a hard drive goes inside it's nice and tidy. But you don't need a dock, just any USB-C hub will do. I have one connecting to a DVD burner, external USB HD and second monitor.

    Just in case it was also a thought, you don't need to use an Apple keyboard or mouse either.
    wiresandmore likes this.
  3. wiresandmore

    wiresandmore pfm Member

    Ok that’s great. If I tell MacOS my photos are on the other drive (in the dock or external via USB), any problems with that?
  4. deebster

    deebster Half Man Half Biscuit

    No, I don't think so. Been a while since I used the app but you always used to be able to tell it where your library lives (internal or external storage) and as long as its accessible it would be opened on launch. Holding the alt/option key allowed you to choose a different library location, just like with iTunes/Music.

    If you've got any old external you could try with the Mac you have. Create a new library on the external in addition to your current one and see how easy it is to switch between the 2.
    wiresandmore likes this.
  5. wiresandmore

    wiresandmore pfm Member

    Is the photo library location user specific? Could I have one user on the internal SSD and others on the external drive?
  6. dan m

    dan m pfm Member

    I bought a mini recently and was also thinking of tacking on an 2TB external drive for the photo library. That’s the size of storage you can purchase via iCloud - so backing up is taken care of. Yes it’s a monthly cost but nice to have an off site backup taken care of without any hassle and have it accessible on the phone and iPad.
  7. Craig B

    Craig B Re:trophile

    Yes, each user account has a unique home folder with individual settings for apps stored within an independent user library containing both user and application settings.

    IOW, one user account can have a common app like Photos pointing to a different location than another account on the same machine, or they could each point to the same Photos library in a commonly accessible location.

    Using @deebster's 'Option (aka Alt)' key held down at app start method, you'll see the following dialog box appear.

    wiresandmore likes this.
  8. Darth Vader

    Darth Vader From the Dark Side

    There are soooo many ways to achieve what I think you want to do.

    For example if you have a decent Windows system you could use that to store your photos and access them remotely over WiFi from another computer (e.g. Mac Mini) with a large screen and better keyboard/mouse. This only requires this second computer to be able to run any necessary apps with enough memory and CPU umph whilst the main storage is on the remote computer. Also with this set up you can use the second system with its big screen as a remote terminal and perform all the processing on the main Windows computer remotely.

    As I mentioned above there are so many ways of doing this. Its the way I work all the time with not only Windows and macOS but also Linux computers. It works a treat.

    I'm not sure what you mean by 'iCloud' but if using the Windows machine remotely you can set up a free 5GB OneDrive and give access to whoever you like via the web.

    Great fun,


    PS I am writing this using a 2012 Mac Mini Server that has both an internal SSD with Windows 11 Pro and a 1TB HDD for data storage.
  9. Joe P

    Joe P Memory Alpha incarnate / mod


    If you want to add an external USB-C SSHD to a Mac Mini just plug one into the USB-C port. Done and done. The advantages of using iCloud for photo storage are external back-up and the ability to see your pix on any of your Apple widgets and doodads.

    wiresandmore, dan m and miktec like this.
  10. tuga

    tuga Legal Alien

    You should consider and external hard drive or a NAS.
    Alternatively you can use Google Photos.
  11. deebster

    deebster Half Man Half Biscuit

    Good point Joe. If all you're connecting is an external drive then you don't need any docks. I'd just gone with the idea that you wanted one.

    The mini isn't blessed with multiple ports, but it has enough to do most basic things.

    Joe P likes this.
  12. Joe P

    Joe P Memory Alpha incarnate / mod


    Aye, a plug-n-play external hard drive seemed the easiest and quickest solution, though maybe there's benefit in using multiple platforms, each running a different operating system with some pretending to be yet another operating system virtually, but that seems like the sort of effort I went to as a kid where I spent all afternoon concocting an elaborate scheme of subterfuge, deceit and evasion to get out of doing a five-minute chore me mum asked me to do.

    deebster and miktec like this.
  13. miktec

    miktec unissued

    What JP says above .. if you can stretch the budget to a 1TB SSD so much the better, you will not regret it; the speed difference over HDD when bulk copying/cataloguing files is amazing.:cool:
    wiresandmore and Joe P like this.
  14. wiresandmore

    wiresandmore pfm Member

    Thanks all. It’s to make it really, really easy for the family to use and they are all on iPhones. I know of many other options but this is by far the simplest for us.

    Good to get all the advice, will look further into it. We have the 2TB iCloud backup already so all good there.
  15. farfromthesun

    farfromthesun pfm Member

    FWIW, I use two of these 2TB SSD's, attached to my Mac solely for music storage / DJ'ing purposes. The speed benefits over traditional HDD's makes SSD's a no brainer and these Samsung ones have never missed a beat. You can get much larger volume for less (unbranded) but I'd personally be worried about failure given the size and the cost.

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