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My system specs:

  • late 2011 13 non-retina
  • thunderbolt (1?)
  • optical drive
  • usb 2
  • sdxc @ 2.5 gt/s
  • firewire 800
  • 128gb ssd

I am wrestling with a few options since I don't have USB3.0:

  • USB 3 drive running at usb 2 speed
  • Firewire 800 drive
  • A few SDXC cards

I am also considering for the long term:

  • Thunderbolt to USB3 adapter to usb 3 drive (not ideal since I can't use my TB to dvi anymore)
  • Thunderbolt dock (would consider this heavily if it allows me to run 2 external monitors, but I am still not sure if this is possible)
  • Thunderbolt drive (expensive)
  • Replace optical drive with SSD or HDD (expensive)

I am looking for a solution with less wires and as quick as possible. I am not sure how the transfer rate of the SDXC stacks up to firewire800 and usb 2, but I appreciate the lack of wires. I can get a firewire drive or usb 3 drive pretty cheap locally (obv the usb3 drive would run at usb2 speed but would be more compatible in the future). I am planning to use this for movies, music, dev project backups.

The Thunderbolt dock is interesting to me since it claims you can run an external TB display from it, 3 usb3 slots, AND an external hdmi monitor but it states "Yes, the Thunderbolt Station can support two monitors if one of them is an Apple Thunderbolt Display". If it can support a non-apple thunderbolt display then I would be more interested since were talking about a lot of cash for this setup, still waiting for them to get back to me.

The TB drive isn't really an option if it can't support the daisy chain either, so also looking at a very pricey setup that way.

It seems like replacing the optical drive with a non-ssd is also bad practice since it will increase battery load? And it doesn't really seem worth it to spend so much to add another low capacity ssd?

I am thinking the best options are either the firewire drive (the one I'm considering requires external power), or just picking up some SDXC cards.

Anyways, I apologize for the novel, would really like hear any opinions or experiences with this. Thankee-sai!

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Replacing your optical drive would seem a logic choice to me. No wires, fast transfer speeds and you have your disk always with you. If storage is your main concert, just go for an HD (And replace your SSD with a bigger one while you are at it...)

It is not expensive at all. You need a philips screwdriver, a hard drive enclosure kit specially made to fit the Unibody MacBook Pro, and a new hard drive. This enclosure holds the drive that fits into the MacBook Pro’s optical drive slot and costs about $40.

Buy it here: iFixit, MaxUpgrades, MacSales or OptiBay

  • Thanks, I am leaning this way too. You think it will be ok to use a HDD as the secondary rather than a SSD or will there be any big disadvantages? – user24102 Aug 12 '14 at 20:25
  • The usual. Battery life is in favour of SSD (20min or so), but it depends on how you much you use your disk. HD is cheaper, and has more maximum capacity. SSD is faster (about 3-5 times), has no moving parts that can break. For your use, get a big HD, put your programs on the SSD and your good to go. – CousinCocaine Aug 12 '14 at 21:53
  • There are ways to move your homefolder (data/files) to to another disk and leave your programs on the SSD. As example see: computers.tutsplus.com/tutorials/… – CousinCocaine Aug 12 '14 at 21:57
  • Let us know how it worked out. I have never tried this before, but have thought of it. – CousinCocaine Aug 12 '14 at 21:58
  • Does this look like a suitable drive for the bay: newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=9SIA54G1R09153 It's 1tb and 7200rpm, I would also consider a larger 5400 drive, but I have heard they are noticeably slower editing large photoshops and whatnot. Thanks! – user24102 Aug 13 '14 at 17:20

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