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Switcher Hangout The place for switchers to discuss their new machines, and how to work with OS X. General support can be had here for newbie stuff, like "How do I restart my new iMac?" :)

Getting the best from my iMac...


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TheGrog

 
Member Since: Jul 29, 2013
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Hi all, new user here

I've been using an iMac 21.5" for a couple of years - mainly just for music applications (I'm currently using Logic Pro 9 and Reason 5). This is all i've used the machine for so far. I figured that after owning it for around 3 years, i should probably try and get a bit more out of it! So a few things i'm mulling over at the moment...

In the last couple of years i've created a ton of music files that i just saved to the desktop - they're really cluttering the desktop up. So what is the best way of arranging files? I'm obviously familiar with the Windows method, but am a little sketchy when it comes to file management on a Mac, so advice would be appreciated here

I have yet to set up Time Machine. I don't have an external harddrive yet so this is on my list of things to buy. I'd be interested to know which budget harddrives would be best. I'm not too tech-savvy so keep it simple if possible.

I'm currently running Snow Leopard, but am looking at upgrading to Mountain Lion shortly. I had a look at downloading from Apple but i couldn't see how to actually buy it - i think it's because maybe i haven't yet set up an Apple ID perhaps? Also, i can borrow a friends harddrive to back-up while upgrading from SL to ML, but it already has a ton of stuff on it - would this present a problem? Do i need to use a blank drive?

I'm under the impression that i don't need to worry too much about anti-virus, however i'd like to be safe and have seen Sophos Anti-Virus recommended after doing a little research online. Worth downloading?

Thanks in advance
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nickyr

 
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Welcome to the forum.

If you've a ton of files then you really, really need to back up. Get a hard drive first before any sort of upgrade and install a cloning app like super duper or carbon copy then follow the instructins and back up.

As for arranging your files - that is done in Finder. You can set up folders and drag and drop your files from the desktop to them.

You need OSX 10.6.8 to be able to upgrade, along with an Apple ID and account.

Anti virus is not something I've bothered with in 6 years of owning an iMac.

what have the Roman's ever done for us?

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Dogbreath

 
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My advise to you is get an ext hdd and get that Time machine back up done ASAP. I use a WD 3T Firewire ext. The partition for TM is twice the size of my internal hdd. I would also set up a partiton and move your music files off the desktop. You would really regret losing them! Also, storing files on your desktop slows your computer down.
So...from me to you...get TM set up and move those music files from your desktop. I will steal someone else's line and say...it is not a matter of IF the hdd will fail...it is a matter of when. I wouldn't worry so much about the OS upgrade until that is taken care of first. My Mac came with OS 10.6 Snow Leopard and I still run that.
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chas_m

 
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Let me start by saying I agree strongly with the posts above.

Quote:
Originally Posted by TheGrog View Post
In the last couple of years i've created a ton of music files that i just saved to the desktop - they're really cluttering the desktop up.
This is a Bad Practice that is slowing your machine down and making it work harder than it has to. You should organize those files and get them off your desktop.

One possible method, based on the way I clean up people's desktops when they have this problem:

a. Create one folder. Call it "Music files." Put ALL the files on your desktop that are music files into this folder.

b. Move this folder into your Home folder (the "little house" inside the Users folder at the root level of your drive.

c. But oh noes! How will I find that file I'm looking for?? Ah, here's the clever bit: now that the folder is in the Home folder, drag it (the Music Files folder) onto the right side of the dock. This creates an alias. Right-click on the new icon, select "Display as folder," and if I might suggest also select "sort by Date Modified" so that all the latest files will always be at the top.

There. You now have one-click access to every one of those files, but they're no longer cluttering the desktop.

Now you can go into that folder anytime you want and create further folders to "sub-categorize" your work (for example, one folder for Logic files, one for Reason files).

Quote:
I'm currently running Snow Leopard, but am looking at upgrading to Mountain Lion shortly.
I recommend doing this, but be aware that you may need to upgrade your music software as well.

Quote:
I had a look at downloading from Apple but i couldn't see how to actually buy it - i think it's because maybe i haven't yet set up an Apple ID perhaps?
That's right. Create an Apple ID, then buy it from the Mac App Store.

Quote:
Also, i can borrow a friends harddrive to back-up while upgrading from SL to ML, but it already has a ton of stuff on it - would this present a problem? Do i need to use a blank drive?
Buy your own drive. They are SO incredibly cheap right now it's absolutely nuts.

Quote:
I'm under the impression that i don't need to worry too much about anti-virus, however i'd like to be safe and have seen Sophos Anti-Virus recommended after doing a little research online. Worth downloading?
No, in my opinion. There aren't any viruses for Mac, existing malware is guarded against by XProtect (and common sense), thus (again, my view) negating the need to install anything along those lines unless you think you're prone to falling for internet scams and trickware.
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TheGrog

 
Member Since: Jul 29, 2013
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Thanks so much for the swift replies, fellas

Excuse me being a little n00bish here, i have a few follow-up questions...

What is a Cloning? Is it just jargon for backing my files up or is there more to it than that?

I was going to get the Time Machine sorted prior to doing any software upgrades so thats cool, but regarding setting up a partition which is twice the size of my internal HDD: Assuming my HDD is 500GB (i think it is...) then i'd need 1TB for Time Machine plus extra for general backing up of files. So i'd likely need a 1.5TB external HDD? I'm guessing a partition is a sectioned-off part the hard drive (duh, i dunno...)? Also, is it best to use USB or FireWire or are they much the same?

Thanks for the decluttering tips, chas_m - i'll put that into action when i get home from work tonight

As for viruses, i've always assumed that i was pretty safe with a Mac, but just wanted to be sure.

Thanks again guys
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Buc021

 
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I also use Logic Pro (and Logic Pro X) on my Macbook Pro, and I have never had a problem with organising my files.

Typically in Logic it asks you where you want to save your song and creates a folder (and subfolders). In my case I have created a main Logic folder in ”Music” and all files I create with Logic are neatly saved in the folder of the title of the song.

When I bounce a song in Logic, it typically also saves itself in a ”bounce” folder in the folder where you created your song. So there should be no cluttering on the desktop if you just use one main ”Logic folder” with subfolders for your songs. As pointed out by another person here, is to drag the Logic folder onto the dock for quick access (it simply creates a short cut).

Regarding backup: my advise would be to buy the Apple Time Capsule with 2TB (for backup of your Mac and to use it as an external drive for your musical creations). I think the price in the US is 299 USD (where I come from we pay the equivalent of 299 EURO but thats because we dont have an Apple store nor online Apple store where I live)

AirPort Time Capsule - 2TB - Apple Store (U.S.)

Or buy the previous Time Machine (2nd hand) for around 200 USD or lower

Apple Time Capsule 2 TB,External MD032LL A Hard Drive | eBay

If you are on a budget, buy a 2TB external hard disk and if I am correct, you could hook it up by USB to your modem/router and then wirelessly sync your Mac when using Time Machine (I would do it this way, unless you think it is easier to hook it up directly to your iMac)

Regarding anti-virus, this has been said many times: avoid it, it is not necessary (and typically slows down your Mac as well)
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Dogbreath

 
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@TheGrog . . .
I wondered myself about the TM partiton/drive having to be being twice the size of your hdd. That IS a lot of space. I have that same size hdd as you 500GB...so I dedicated 1TB to to TM. That is what the super users on this forum recommmend and told me would be best...that is all Ihave to base that on. I used a Firewire ext hdd because my Firewire port was never used, it's faster, and I was running out of USB ports. Some USB accessories are not recognized by my Mac as readily when pluggd into my Belkin hub...I have to plug it directly into a USB port on the Mac.
You asked about cloning...I use Carbon Copy Cloner. This great software makes a perfect clone of your whole internal hdd and the computer can be booted up and run from the ext hdd. You cannot boot the computer from a TM backup.
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MacInWin

 
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The reason for suggesting a TM Backup drive twice the size of the HD is that when TM first runs, it makes a complete backup of everything you tell it to (That's typically all your own data, plus applications, but not the OS itself. As Dogbreath pointed out TM drives are NOT bootable.) Then subsequent backups are incremental, just copying over files that have changed since the last backup. TM then moves the older files to a deeper storage on that same drive, just in case you need to go back in versions of those files. But volatile files get backed up much more often, so the space on the drive for TM backups grows and grows. When the drive fills, TM starts selectively deleting the older backups to make room for new. With twice the size drive, that won't happen until those older files are REALLY old and you are unlikely to ever want to go that far back. If the drive is smaller, that shedding of old files starts sooner and you may find you cannot get back that older file you wanted. (BTW, that shedding of old files, while handy, is the reason that I store my critical tax documents on other media and don't let any automatic software handle them.)

With Carbon Copy Cloner, also mentioned by Dogbreath, you can script the same function as TM, with an added advantage that CCC will also clone the operating system, leaving the drive bootable when (if) the internal drive fails. I don't think CCC is free anymore, but it's definitely a good tool to have.

One last thing. I use Time Machine Scheduler to run my TM backups just once a day. I found the limitations of TM to no more than 4 hours to be too quick for me. I don't use the machine for work (I'm retired), so nothing I do is so critical I can't lose one day's work. Daily backups are just fine.
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TheGrog

 
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I think i'd prefer to go with FireWire due to limited USB ports, as Dogbreath mentioned. Although I could do USB if i had to.

Any opinions on these:

Seagate 2TB FireWire800 for Mac
Seagate 2TB USB3
WD Elements 2TB

I'm a little unsure of what to buy with external HDDs, i'm afraid! Would USB 3.0 work ok with USB 2.0 ports? Also, would it be possible to use the same hard drive to occaisionally back stuff up from my windows desktop machine too? (It's be plugged into iMac for majority of the time, of course)
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Dogbreath

 
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@TheGrog . . . Carbon Copy Cloner is no longer free. I purchased it back in June for $39.95...and worth every penny! After I loaded it up on an ext hdd and made the initial clone, I restarted my Mac and booted from CCC. It worked like a champ...and by using a Firewire connection, the slowdown was negligible. But back to your case...getting a Time Machine back up should be a priority...and please move those music files off your desktop
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TheGrog

 
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Right, i've decluttered my desktop! We seem to be getting somewhere now Much better.

I'm reasonably sure i'll be going for this hard drive. Any thoughts on that particular model? I'm utterly clueless, i'm afraid!

I've also changed my mind about FireWire. I forgot that my Apogee Duet audio interface is taking the only available FW slot, so the HDD is going to have to be USB.

Once i get the HDD sorted then i'll get backing up

Thanks again!
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Dogbreath

 
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...and USB will be fine for TM. It worked great for me for 2 years...just don't expect lightening speeds from it. With TM, speed is not of great importance. I cannot comment on your potential ext hdd choice because I have no experience a Seagate ext hdd's. Maybe somebody else may have some input on it. Is your Mac USB 3.0 compatible? My Mac is not...luckily USB 3.0 is backward compatible with USB 2...so YES, it would work. It will just be a wee bit slower. Again, I chose Firewire because of the available ports.
Although I am not 100% sure...but I think an ext hdd can be multi formatted with partitions to cover Windows stuff while using Extended Journaled for Mac stuff. Maybe FAT32 format would work for both?!? (help me out here power users)!

ps...getting back to your music files, take time to once again back those up on a DVD, Flash drive, or a Cloud site, too. If it is not backed twice, then it really isn't backed up...this is from my recording studio experience.

pss... I, personally, would ditch/avoid any software that comes with an ext hdd. TM and CCC do a fantastic job on their own.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TheGrog View Post
What is a Cloning? Is it just jargon for backing my files up or is there more to it than that?
A "clone" of a hard drive is different than a backup. Broadly speaking, a backup copies over all your visible files, and can be limited to just the items you choose.

A clone is a bit-for-bit exact digital mirror of *everything* on your hard drive, including invisible files and so on, and should be bootable as though it were the boot drive.

Quote:
I was going to get the Time Machine sorted prior to doing any software upgrades so thats cool, but regarding setting up a partition which is twice the size of my internal HDD: Assuming my HDD is 500GB (i think it is...) then i'd need 1TB for Time Machine plus extra for general backing up of files. So i'd likely need a 1.5TB external HDD? I'm guessing a partition is a sectioned-off part the hard drive (duh, i dunno...)? Also, is it best to use USB or FireWire or are they much the same?
These days, essentially the same. FW is faster than USB 1.1 or USB 2, but not as fast as USB 3. Thunderbolt is faster than anything, but overkill for most users.

As for partitioning your drive, you then have to answer this question: how are you going to back up the stuff on the non-Time Machine partition?

I've seen up to 4TB (that's 4,000GB) drives on sale for less than $200 these days, so prices are just crazy cheap. I like to buy from Costco but you can find great deals from Amazon, Newegg, OWC and other online dealers as well.

The recommendation is to give Time Machine around twice as much (or more if you like) space as is on your boot drive. What you do with the rest of the drive is up to you, but remember that TM only backs up stuff on the boot drive; nothing else.

Quote:
Thanks for the decluttering tips, chas_m - i'll put that into action when i get home from work tonight
Everyone has a bit of a different workflow so my suggestion was just that -- a suggestion. What works best for you and accomplishes the goal of decluttering the desktop is fine, even if it's not exactly what I would do.
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robertoblake

 
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Are there any external hard drives that just don't work at all with Mac. I've been doing find with Seagate but sometimes the connectivity isn't great been looking at changing over. Maybe Western Digital?
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An external hard drive is simply a hard drive designed to be used externally. An oversimplification perhaps, but it doesn't matter if it's attached to a Mac, PC, or Linux machine. Any make hard drive should work OK. You may have to re-format it if it was pre-formatted for use in Windows.
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