How to free up space on iMac?

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rjbraun
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How to free up space on iMac?

Post by rjbraun » Thu Mar 29, 2018 12:27 pm

I have lots of music and photos stored on my Mac. Should I buy an external hard drive to back-up the music and photos? As I would not want anything to happen to these collections, should I plan to store the hard drive in a bank safe-deposit box for safekeeping? Anything else or special I need to know or do before going down this path? What kind of hard drive should I get? Can I save a few bucks by buying not at Apple but at, say, Best Buy?

Thanks in advance. I realize that some of these questions are probably pretty basic. :confused

ETA: I don't think I want to store the material on the cloud.

CurlyDave
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Re: How to free up space on iMac?

Post by CurlyDave » Thu Mar 29, 2018 12:40 pm

1. You can use any brand of hard drive you want with your iMac.

2. Backup and offloading from an internal hard drive that has run out of space are really two different things.

3. For backup, DW and I each have two external drives. Once a week we swap them. The second drive can be stored off-site if you really want extra security. We just use a Time Machine backup on the external drives.

DW had some bad thing happen to her computer that somehow fried both the internal and the backup drive, so the two drive solution where the spare is not even plugged in should work for us.

I have not had good results with any of the budget priced external drives. We now use G-drive and they seem to work well.

Amphian
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Re: How to free up space on iMac?

Post by Amphian » Thu Mar 29, 2018 12:56 pm

I have a time capsule that I use to back up my drive in case I delete something accidentally, and then a usb flash drive that sits on my keychain. If my house were to burn down, I would be out with my keys already or grab them on the way out the door, so I don't store a drive in a bank vault.

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Pajamas
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Re: How to free up space on iMac?

Post by Pajamas » Thu Mar 29, 2018 1:07 pm

I have an external hard drive that I use to store media files on, including films, music, photos, and books. I back it up occasionally with another external hard drive. Anything important and relatively irreplaceable such as financial documents I back up to the cloud in real time.

So I guess I distinguish between additional storage for media files and backing up important files.

rjbraun
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Re: How to free up space on iMac?

Post by rjbraun » Thu Mar 29, 2018 1:16 pm

CurlyDave wrote:
Thu Mar 29, 2018 12:40 pm
1. You can use any brand of hard drive you want with your iMac.

2. Backup and offloading from an internal hard drive that has run out of space are really two different things.

3. For backup, DW and I each have two external drives. Once a week we swap them. The second drive can be stored off-site if you really want extra security. We just use a Time Machine backup on the external drives.

DW had some bad thing happen to her computer that somehow fried both the internal and the backup drive, so the two drive solution where the spare is not even plugged in should work for us.

I have not had good results with any of the budget priced external drives. We now use G-drive and they seem to work well.
Good point, thank you. So, I currently have an external hard drive that is always hooked up to my Mac. Time Machine runs regularly and backs up files on this external drive. You make a good point about the possibility of my computer and this drive both getting fried. That would be really, really bad.

Okay, so it seems that I need to get another external hard drive to swap weekly, as you do. That way, if something "bad" happens to both my Mac and the drive, I can still recover files from the good drive and bring things back to, at worst, the state of things the prior week, right?

But, there's another issue in that I think I am tight on storage. I need to check, but I'm pretty sure I got a warning message about this. It stands to reason, given all the music and photos I have saved. Note: there's some time pressure here to address this as I need to upgrade my operating system to install TurboTax to do my taxes soon (arggh :annoyed), I have a feeling that lack of storage may affect my ability to upgrade the operating system.

I will look into getting a G-drive. In that case, I need to offload music and pictures on the drive, and I probably want to consider storing that drive someplace safe.

Is there any difference between the drive where I offload stuff and the drive that Time Machine backs up onto? Am I shopping for two different devices? What is the product to ask for?

rjbraun
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Re: How to free up space on iMac?

Post by rjbraun » Thu Mar 29, 2018 1:19 pm

Amphian wrote:
Thu Mar 29, 2018 12:56 pm
I have a time capsule that I use to back up my drive in case I delete something accidentally, and then a usb flash drive that sits on my keychain. If my house were to burn down, I would be out with my keys already or grab them on the way out the door, so I don't store a drive in a bank vault.
I would think a usb flash drive has limited storage and would likely be insufficient for my needs. I guess you don't have a lot of files that you would want to save, unless I'm missing something

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Ice-9
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Re: How to free up space on iMac?

Post by Ice-9 » Thu Mar 29, 2018 1:24 pm

Echoing CurlyDave's post that backup and making room on your hard drive are two different exercises. Here's what I do on my older 2011 iMac:

1) For backup, use Time Machine with a Thunderbolt external drive (faster than USB), not sure if Thunderbolt is still a thing on newer models

2) To save hard drive space, put entire music and photo collection on a usually disconnected external hard drive, periodically connected and updated for new files using rsync from the command line. For anyone new to command line, using rsync is pretty painless I think. The basic command to mirror two folders (include full paths) would be:
rsync -va --delete ~/Folder1/ ~/Folder2/

Assuming you want Folder2 to retain all the files even if they no longer exist on Folder1, as is likely the case here, you would omit the --delete from the command.
rsync -va ~/Folder1/ ~/Folder2/

This allows us to, for example, take a bunch of songs off our iMac so they don't take up space, but we'll still have them later on the external drive if we want to put them back. We do this a couple times a year for the music folder, the pictures folder, and a few others, usually before we try to make some more space on the hard drive. That the external drive is usually disconnected hopefully also would be helpful if we ever got hit with ransomware.

Also, photos from our phones are automatically backed up to the cloud and onto our Macs using OneDrive.
Last edited by Ice-9 on Thu Mar 29, 2018 1:37 pm, edited 1 time in total.

FraggleRock
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Not the right question

Post by FraggleRock » Thu Mar 29, 2018 1:36 pm

The complete answer is way more complicated that one would initially think.

1. You need a complete backup of your entire drive to protect against internal hard drive failure. The longer you own your iMac, the more likely this is to occur.
This means buying hardware and software:
a. SuperDuper! from https://www.shirt-pocket.com/SuperDuper ... ption.html for $28.
b. An external hard drive equal to or larger in size than your internal drive. For example, https://eshop.macsales.com/item/OWC/ME3UH7T2.0/ for 2TB at $140. Or, http://www.g-technology.com/products/g-drive-usb (same size/price). I own both. The G-Drive is a bit quieter.

2. You need backup of your data files (films, music, photos, and books) in case you accidentally delete one.
This is what Time Machine is for.
a. Time Machine software is included on your iMac.
b. An external hard drive equal to or larger than you data files. You can have a separate drive or you can use a larger version of the backup drive and partition it. Probably will cost another $30.

3. You need offsite backup of stuff you absolutely do not want to lose when your house burns down.
This means subscribing to a backup service.
I use BackBlaze (https://www.backblaze.com) and have used it for a few years. It costs $50/yr and works invisibly. I like it.

Amphian
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Re: How to free up space on iMac?

Post by Amphian » Thu Mar 29, 2018 2:09 pm

rjbraun wrote:
Thu Mar 29, 2018 1:19 pm
Amphian wrote:
Thu Mar 29, 2018 12:56 pm
I have a time capsule that I use to back up my drive in case I delete something accidentally, and then a usb flash drive that sits on my keychain. If my house were to burn down, I would be out with my keys already or grab them on the way out the door, so I don't store a drive in a bank vault.
I would think a usb flash drive has limited storage and would likely be insufficient for my needs. I guess you don't have a lot of files that you would want to save, unless I'm missing something
If you have a bunch of videos, then you might need more than a terabyte or two and a flash drive wouldn't be enough for your needs. I only have music and photos, so a terabyte is more than enough for me. One to two terabyte flash drives are also expensive, so if you need more than half a terabyte, you might want to pick a different medium.

onourway
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Re: How to free up space on iMac?

Post by onourway » Thu Mar 29, 2018 2:20 pm

Agreed that you need to work on a backup solution. At a minimum this is an external hard drive. I like cloud backups because they are automatic and you never have to think about them. Most people will not keep up with a manual rotation of hard drives off site for any period of time.

For figuring out your space issues I suggest you try the free program Grand Perspective. This will give you a visualization of how your drive space is being used, making it easy to identify the main culprits, and determine if there are things you can archive or delete to save space. http://grandperspectiv.sourceforge.net/

rjbraun
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Re: How to free up space on iMac?

Post by rjbraun » Thu Mar 29, 2018 2:25 pm

Amphian wrote:
Thu Mar 29, 2018 2:09 pm
rjbraun wrote:
Thu Mar 29, 2018 1:19 pm
Amphian wrote:
Thu Mar 29, 2018 12:56 pm
I have a time capsule that I use to back up my drive in case I delete something accidentally, and then a usb flash drive that sits on my keychain. If my house were to burn down, I would be out with my keys already or grab them on the way out the door, so I don't store a drive in a bank vault.
I would think a usb flash drive has limited storage and would likely be insufficient for my needs. I guess you don't have a lot of files that you would want to save, unless I'm missing something
If you have a bunch of videos, then you might need more than a terabyte or two and a flash drive wouldn't be enough for your needs. I only have music and photos, so a terabyte is more than enough for me. One to two terabyte flash drives are also expensive, so if you need more than half a terabyte, you might want to pick a different medium.
I also only have music and photos, but I have a lot. I don't know offhand and am not home to check now, but at a minimum hundreds of CDs' worth, if not thousands. Anyway, I don't need to store them on a flash drive. While I care a lot about my music and photo collection, I don't want to always carry them on my key chain, nor do I want to have to remember to grab the flash drive as I am running out the door in an emergency situation. I will consider a different medium, as you suggested. Thanks

Cheyenne
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Re: How to free up space on iMac?

Post by Cheyenne » Thu Mar 29, 2018 2:38 pm

SuperDuper!

+1

Amphian
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Re: How to free up space on iMac?

Post by Amphian » Thu Mar 29, 2018 2:46 pm

rjbraun wrote:
Thu Mar 29, 2018 2:25 pm
I also only have music and photos, but I have a lot. I don't know offhand and am not home to check now, but at a minimum hundreds of CDs' worth, if not thousands.
Yeah, I only have hundreds of CDs, not thousands. You could fit probably a 1400 CDs on a 1 TB drive, but it would be pretty full at that point, so you'd need multiple drives. You must have a 2 or 3 TB drive on your Mac.

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Pajamas
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Re: How to free up space on iMac?

Post by Pajamas » Thu Mar 29, 2018 4:12 pm

Looks like you can get a good external hard drive with 4TB for about $25/TB. Two of those at $100 each would provide plenty of storage and backup for $200. You could get one desktop version to use every day and one portable version to store in another place.

https://www.amazon.com/Elements-Portabl ... B0713WPGLL

Also, if you just need to clear up a little space for a software upgrade or similar, you can use this program to remove extra languages and unneeded architectures from the software on your Mac.

https://ingmarstein.github.io/Monolingual/

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gtownsend
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Re: How to free up space on iMac?

Post by gtownsend » Thu Mar 29, 2018 6:54 pm

I've successfully used an external drive to store my iTunes library. That would free up space on your internal drive. I'm not doing it right now but I have other bulky things on an external "overflow" drive.

I strongly endorse the use of a separate pair of external drives, swapped regularly, for Time Machine backups. I take one of mine to the safe deposit box monthly and bring home its twin. I never have the original and both backups in the same location. The 4TB WD Elements is a good suggestion for a backup drive. (Your current external drive could then become your overflow drive.)

Note that Time Machine can be told to back up your overflow drive along with your internal drive. I'm doing that, too. As with all backup setups, be very careful that it's really doing what you intend, and test it by restoring something every once in a while.

Cheyenne
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Re: How to free up space on iMac?

Post by Cheyenne » Thu Mar 29, 2018 7:28 pm

I'm certainly not an expert with this but I remember when I started using Macs I read a lot of the forums and there were several opinions that one should not depend entirely on Time Machine because there have been some reported problems retrieving data with it. So I've been using SuperDuper! as well to create a clone of my system drive. It's very easy to do and an added advantage is that in the event of a system drive failure I can boot from the backup drive and be up and running right away.

rjbraun
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Re: How to free up space on iMac?

Post by rjbraun » Fri Mar 30, 2018 10:47 am

Thank you all for the helpful feedback. I hope to review the specific recommendations again more closely over the weekend and will likely go ahead and order the two WD drives. Then, I will have all the hardware in place to begin the backups as well as the file transfers to free up space, after which I can load the new operating system and then download the TurboTax I already purchased. Then the fun really begins with my taxes (not).

As much of a nuisance this all seems to me I guess it's a necessary one as I would be really, really upset to lose all my music or photos (and other electronic stuff, for that matter). And, yes, the possibility that Time Machine is unreliable concerns me. I guess it just means I will need to be careful to confirm all the backups and transfer are being done properly going forward.

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corn18
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Re: How to free up space on iMac?

Post by corn18 » Fri Mar 30, 2018 11:15 am

I have the same issue with my iMac. Here's what I did:

1. All photos/videos/music are on an external thunderbolt drive. This is about 1.6 TB of data. I have no photos/videos/music on the iMac internal drive. This leaves a ton of space on the internal 1TB drive.

That's it. Don't confuse backup with external storage.

For backup, I have a multi-tiered approach as I lost all my data back in 1996 and that was bad:

1. Time machine backup of iMac internal drive. This only protects the data on the iMac. I put this on my Airport time capsule.
2. External backup of external storage. I put this on a separate external thunderbolt drive. I use a program called ChronoSync to do this backup daily. This drive is always connected to the iMac.
3. 2nd external backup of external storage. I put this on a separate external USB 3.0 drive. Use ChronoSync. I do this monthly and put this drive in my fireproof/waterproof safe at my house.
4. 3rd external backup of external storage. I put this on a separate external USB 3.0 drive. Use ChronoSync. I do this bi-annually and ship this drive to my mother-in-law to keep in her safe. She then ships back the old drive for re-use.
5. For all of my non photo/video/music data, I keep it all on MS OneDrive in the cloud as well as locally on my iMac. Another layer of backup.

But wait, there's more. Both my external storage and my external daily backups are on thunderbolt RAID 1+0 arrays (4 drives each). This helps prevent data loss due to a single drive failure.

Way overkill, but I do not want to lose 30 years of photos and videos. We converted all of our photos and videos to digital, so this holds our entire life.

Hope this helps.

Tom

SittingOnTheFence
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Re: How to free up space on iMac?

Post by SittingOnTheFence » Fri Mar 30, 2018 12:40 pm

I haven't been using an iMac long enough to have any bad experiences. My Time Machine backs up to mirrored external drives (NAS) on my home network. This approach does not have the security of offsite storage in event of a on site disaster.

I don't keep photos in the cloud, they are on my NAS. I'm totally confused about the way Apple stores photos so don't use the Photo's app because I have the impression that photos deleted from the machine (or mobile devices) will delete them from the cloud. Perhaps iCloud is not a backup so much as a sync device?

I've only needed to restore a few accidentally overwritten files from TM once. Very easy. I have read that TM backs up entire OS so a damaged machine should be able to be fully restored from TM, macOS & data.

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5th_Dimension
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Re: How to free up space on iMac?

Post by 5th_Dimension » Fri Mar 30, 2018 5:08 pm

rjbraun wrote:
Fri Mar 30, 2018 10:47 am
And, yes, the possibility that Time Machine is unreliable concerns me.
I have used Time Machine well over a dozen times to restore to a new machine when upgrading. Out of those times one time it didn't work correctly. I forget what the exact error was. I had a second clone backup using Carbon Copy Cloner so I used that and it worked fine. I trust Time Machine but I also do periodic backups using CCC.
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