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I have an SSD on the way and will be moving my HDD to the optical bay slot in my MBP. I want to boot from the SSD and store my /Users folder on the HDD. I've seen the way that everyone suggest moving an individual account's home folder to a separate partition.

However, I want to move the ENTIRE /Users folder. I don't want to bother with moving individual user accounts, and I want any new accounts I create to reside on the HDD without any additional steps other than creating the user.

I already have a complete clone of my /Users directory on a separate partition I created for testing this out. Is there a safe way (i.e. will not cause any problems with application or OS functionality) to direct OS X to utilize the new /Users folder?

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3 Answers

up vote 3 down vote accepted

May be able just create a simlink to the /User directory.

To do this, open up Terminal and enter:

cd [SeperateDrivePath*]
ln -s ./Users /Users

You'll want to move your original Users folder out of the way (rename it or move it or whatever).

*Where [SeperateDrivePath] is the path to your volume just underneath the cloned /Users folder. Probably something like /Volumes/Some Hard Drive Name/. In this case, your clones /Users should exist at/Volumes/Some Hard Drive Name/Users.

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This was what I wanted to do but I was thinking maybe there was another "supported" solution :) I threw caution to the wind and did it... well, maybe not all caution... I cloned my whole drive, booted from said clone, and created the symbolic link from there. So there were some minor differences in that I created the symbolic link like so: ln -s /Volumes/NewUsersVolume/Users /Volumes/NormalBootVolume/Users. Rebooted and tested all my apps out, even ran today's security update. So far everything is working like a charm. –  Robert S Ciaccio Aug 26 '10 at 3:46
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FYI I've been running 2 machines like this since my last comment and I've had no problems whatsoever. –  Robert S Ciaccio Sep 7 '10 at 18:18
    
ok there is one issue that pops up in this configuration. If you have a mobileme account and sometimes use a computer that has the /Users folder in the original position (i.e. the boot volume), your dock will get all screwed up. Any stacks or folders you have in your dock that point to folders on the Users volume will disappear or lose their settings after you logon to the machine with the original config. Other weirdness like idisk sync issues and missing dock app icons may ensue. However, I solved the problem by just switching all my mobileme synced machines to the same partition scheme. –  Robert S Ciaccio Sep 23 '10 at 4:04
    
I've had some issues running this way with some apps redirecting me to /Volumes/Secondary/Users/me and this strange path does pop up in odd places when you really just want it to be /Users/me. I recommend the hint to use fstab, it's a bit cleaner: mountpoints are the "proper" way these things are done in the unix/linux world. –  Andrew Vit Aug 28 '11 at 6:51
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Since I just upgraded to lion I think I'm going to try the fstab way. –  Robert S Ciaccio Nov 27 '11 at 22:30
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The best way to do this is probably to setup /Users as an automounted partition, with all your home directories in the root of that partition. I am going to assume you have already copied over the home directories properly (with permissions enabled). Now you just need to add the volume to /etc/fstab. Assuming the parition is named Users, you add a line like this:

LABEL=Users /Users  hfs rw,auto

Instead of using the volume name you could also use the volumes GUID if you know how to find it, which would be slightly more reliable (it would prevent mishaps if you ever inserted another volume with the name Users. That would looks something like:

UUID=DF000C7E-AE0C-3B15-B730-DFD2EF15CB91   /Users  hfs rw,auto

You can find more information in man 5 fstab. Be warned, that manpage is mostly about the programming interface for fstab, but also goes into the file. Unfortunately it does not go into all the options available, there really appears to be no good documentation for it, but this should give you enough to get what you want done.

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By far the best solution. More information: discussions.apple.com/thread.jspa?threadID=1212374 –  Jeff Swensen Nov 13 '10 at 3:22
    
To those who may find this through Google, you can get a partition's UUID by opening a terminal by running diskutil info "Volume Name". –  Greg Haskins Jan 7 '12 at 18:55
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I've done this, in fact, I'm using a no-optical MBP right now.

Here is my experience detailed in full.

Notes:

  1. I put the SSD in the optical bay, since the HDD bay has vibration dampers and the optical bay solution I bought did not have anything close to what comes in the original HDD bay. The SSD has no vibration, so it's a good fit there.
  2. I agree with Fishtoaster... see my link above for how I did it.
  3. I have bootcamp and rEFIt installed, so when I boot, I get option for SSD Mac, HD Mac, or Windows... works pretty nicely.
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LOL I actually read some of your macrumors post when I was caddy and SSD shopping :P I remember because I thought, "This guy put a lot of work into this post, I feel bad that no one has posted any feedback...." and then I went on to the next link in my google results hahahaha :) (to be fair though, I had no macrumors forum account at the time :P ) –  Robert S Ciaccio Sep 17 '10 at 9:00
    
Thanks, I think all that detail would've been received better if I took pictures and put it on a personal blog. The mission of MacRumors isn't necc. fixit help. I also find posting what you discover is helpful to solidify your own understanding, so the reward is in the doing... btw, which caddy did you go with? –  r00fus Sep 21 '10 at 5:11
    
True enough! I got the cheapo ebay caddy(cgi.ebay.com/ws/…). It works great... I posted some stuff about it in the "MCE Optibay Alternative Cheap" thread. My username is losmuertos. –  Robert S Ciaccio Sep 23 '10 at 3:59
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