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Other Hardware and Peripherals Other Apple systems and peripherals discussions including the Apple Watch.

External Hard Drives; Free space and recommendations.

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Stef Andrews

Member Since: Oct 14, 2008
Location: Leeds/Brighton
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Hi all,

About a year ago I switched out the 120GB internal HDD in my Macbook for a 500GB, and had the 120GB installed in a case for use as an external. All is fine and dandy with this.

But, I was wondering what the 'safe' idea is on free space on a hard drive, as I recently checked and I only have just under 3GB left on it. The data on it going nasty isn't a huge problem, as it is only a back-up of the important stuff on my internal drive, for which i have a time machine back up using another external drive. But obviously I don't really want to be running it this full if it is going to be stressing the drive etc.

This brings me to the fact that I am contemplating looking for a larger drive (and will probably either give the drive away to my parents/sister etc.) for use for storing my work on - I'm a recording engineer using logic. I was thinking that it would probably be best to go with firewire as well (I imagine chaining one FW audio interface and one external HDD isn't going to be too much of a problem for my mac - specs to the left). So, any recommendations? My current Time Machine drive is a WD mybook and is great, so was considering another one of those, but are there any others I should be looking at?

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My own general rule of thumb:

System drive/partition (the one your operating system is on) - recommend 15% minimum and I suggest this become a rule not to be broken - yes, even on a 2TB partition - I have maintained 25% for over 15 years - less than 25%, if you're watching, you will begin to notice a speed difference.

There was much discussion of this in the mid-90's, and pretty rarely since the advent of 100GB+ drives except in relation to the slow down as a drive becomes full.

Data drive/partition - recommend 5-10% minimum - I have do not allow any partition less than 15% free space (with the exception of a swap file /virtual memory partition).

This depends a lot on how you use the data drive. If it's used solely as storage, e.g. data is written to and left sitting there, you're probably ok at the lower end. If you're writing, deleting, writing, deleting, you'll want to keep your free space at the upper end.

My recommendation for data drives is definitely based on empirical evidence vs. scientific.

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