View Full Version : Moving "HOME" Folder contents to External Drive

03-31-2013, 01:40 AM
Hi, firstly I'd like to thank the very helpful people enabling me to migrate from one "dying" Snow Leopard Macbook Pro to another Mountain Lion Macbook Pro. Happily everything went well, although I did lose the ability to use a couple of software programs I loved (Popmonitor is one!). The dying macbook will be going back to Apple for repair and upgrade as it is under warranty.

I now have another question. I'll soon be receiving a 2tb 2.5 external drive. I currently have an external drive that has time machine back up as well as all my important photography files. When the large drive arrives I'll partition (if I can) a 500mb that is purely Time Machine and the remainder is for photos. However I'd like to move/copy the "HOME" folder contents from the Mac HD that I have; ie: My documents, Pictures, Music etc etc, so if I have a challenge with this computer I can switch to the repaired one and still access all my files.

My question is am I able to do this and if so, what is the best way of doing it? I believe I'll have to ensure Itunes and Apple Mail know where the folders are stored to access them. Hope this makes sense as I'm not too good at the technical side of explaining things.

With regards to backup... I also have a DROBO that backs up Time Machine and my photos as well as another external drive for photos. I think I have all bases covered. I use Carbon Copier Cloner to back these up but haven't used CCC to make a "boot?? disk".

Cheers and thanks again. This is a wonderful community :)

03-31-2013, 07:17 AM
Time Machine already copies the Home folder contents.

It sounds like what you want is to be able to boot to a 2nd drive if/when your internal drive dies.
In that case, you will use CCC to make a clone of your internal drive to the new external drive.
No need to make a 'boot' disk. The cloned drive will be bootable and an exact copy of your internal drive so you can pick up and keep going from whatever point you last cloned the drive.

Always after creating a clone, boot to it and make sure it is working and all your stuff is there.
I typically just open 2 or 3 apps and make sure my most important stuff is working and everything looks ok.

05-29-2013, 09:35 PM
I just finished this process with my Mid 2010 iMac i3, 21.5", so keep that in mind. (I used 3.5
WD Black 1TB desktop (7200 rpm with a Sabrent encasement 3.5 drive size, 3.0 USB
with fan. (same speed as my drive, but the 2.0 usb in my iMac may be
holding me back a little on speed, but I can deal with that because my PC
is much faster after I moved the home folder to the external).

1. Backup
2. Copy the home folder to the external HD.

3. System preferences, users & groups, right-click on your profile to
find advanced options, under home directory change the directory to your
external HD.

4. Then, after an extensive search, I found the below website that
explains the terminal command that allows the disk to be mounted even when
you are not logged in and that means no hangups when starting up your
computer (before this change I was only able to log in after about 3 restarts,
finally the external responded). However, I did create another
administrator user account to allow access to the system in case of any

Paste the command into terminal, hit enter and that was all it
took to have a flawless power-up every time. (Just make sure the external HD
is powered up before hand :))

How to get OS X to mount drives on boot rather than login and leave them mounted when you logout | Peter Van Damme (http://www.petervandamme.be/blog/2013/01/28/how-to-get-os-x-to-mount-drives)

I did all of this in 10.6.8 and then upgraded to Mt. Lion and I have had
no issues yet. The new OS definitely helped, but since my iMac is getting
older I wanted to store my data on an SSD, but really don't have the time
or patience to remove the screen and open the machine to install an SSD in
the extra slot. I know it's not that too much work, but I have a tendency to rush through
things like fixing my computer.

I also partitioned the external with a drive for backups. I sometimes have
7-8 (Acrobat Pro, Gimp, Outlook, Word, Preview, iCal, Evernote, iPhoto, iBooks, etc) apps open and I can even play the new Call of Duty-Black Ops with very
minimal lag (I also have 12 GB of RAM).

I apologize for the quality of the pics.

05-29-2013, 11:03 PM
I just wanted to add, that the change-over with itunes and all other applications went off without a hitch. I did not need to change anything with my applications.

05-29-2013, 11:29 PM
WOW!! Thank you for such a concise explanation on "HOW"... I'll go through it a few times before I attempt... mind you!

I really appreciate the added tip with the website.. again.. I'll read through it before I make the jump! My only issue may be I am using a portable external... nothing with a fan... so hopefully won't cook anything!

My refurbished macbook, the one I'm currently using, has 16gb RAM,,, the repaired one, only 8gb. No brainer which one I'm using... editing images is so much quicker :)

Thanks again - hope this thread assists anyone else considering the move.

Cheers - Karen

05-30-2013, 03:59 AM
Hello Karen,

Thanks for finding my post useful. I spent some time hunting down that diskmount command. :)

1. The speed of the external disk may be a variable when considering data transfers, retrieval, etc...There are faster drives but I am considering price, quality and performance at the same time, so I am likely to sacrifice something. I am not sure how the portable will work with your mac, but a few years back I had the same setup on a windows notebook a and a portable external, and it actually worked great.

2. There are a lot of drive enclosures without fans. This was a personal choice because I had an external hard drive come to a grinding halt and it always ran hot (Seagate of course). I really do not want that to happen again, so I took the extra caution and purchased an enclosure with a fan. The fan may not make that big of a difference but the case is always cool. The enclosure was actually cheap at $24. It seems to be constructed well. We will see how long it lasts.

06-03-2013, 07:34 AM
Hiya and thanks again :)

I've been using a portable drive for all my images, catalogues for Lightroom, but just haven't made the full jump to everything being on the drive as per my original post. I may never have to use the back up computer.. however after going through the my original challenge, I'd rather be prepared and, should I need to bounce between the two computers, know all the files are the same and no boo boo's.

The little portable does run "hot"... I really do want portability and not something I have to run off it's own power.... BUT.. I'm certainly openminded and happy to use something more reliable. I travel, hence my need for lightness.

Again, I thank you for your assistance and sharing the experience. You've certainly save me angst with the tip you spent so much time finding!

Best "fishes" - Karen :)