Restoring a Mac Mini 2012 from HDD only to SSD + HDD Superdrive

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Restoring a Mac Mini 2012 from HDD only to SSD + HDD Superdrive

Hi All,

I am looking to install an SSD into my Mac Mini alongside the existing HDD. The SSD would hold at least the OS and possibly all of the application files also.


I have been using the mac for both personal and work for years.


Is there a way I can do a time machine backup or manual drag and drop of the system and restore it back to have the files where I want on the SSD?


Or is it more sensible to do a clean install and effectively rebuild my file system. Only issue is I have some older software which I still use but wouldn;t have half of the installation details I need to re-install.


Any advice would be greatly appreciated,


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Re: Restoring a Mac Mini 2012 from HDD only to SSD + HDD Superdrive

I have no experience with Time Machine so I cannot say.  


In my opinion your two best options are to do a clean install of OSX on the SSD (you need to format the drive before it will allow you to install to the new SSD), then during first boot allow Migration Assistant to transfer your User Account, apps, and settings.  If you have proprietary software such as MS Office, Adobe products, etc. which have license codes, you will need to reapply them with this method.  


The other option which might be better is to use Carbon Copy Cloner (CCC) to clone your original drive to the new SSD (make sure to format the new SSD with Disk Utility first so it will be seen by the app).   CCC allows you to select which items to include in the clone and it will also recreate the Recovery Partition for you.   Make sure to include your User Folder & settings (Library) even if you deselect all of the documents.   Normally CCC will transfer the licenses, but if you pick & choose the items, they may not transfer as I have no clue where these licenses are stored.


I would also use DriveDX to check the health of your original hard drive to make sure it is Ok for your data.  Don't just trust the overall assessment.  Check the actual Smart Attributes themselves.   You definitely want to check the attribute 193 "Load Cycle Count".  If the value or worst column shows it at "001" then the drive may not have much life left in it.  Another important value is attribute 9 "Power On Hours".  It is hard to judge how many hours a drive will work, but I would be careful of any over 10k hours.  Most of the 2.5" drives I've seen have been in laptops where they barely reach 6k hours, but even in a Mini I've rarely seen them last more than 10k-20k hours.  The other attributes 5, 196, 197, 198 are properly monitored by DriveDX and should have a RAW value of zero.  DriveDX doesn't correctly monitor the health of SSDs as it treats them like a hard drive which is not correct so you will get some false health reports.


You may be tempted to leave the OS on the old hard drive, but I would recommend to remove it after you have verified everything is working Ok on the SSD as you may end up losing track of your data with all of the extra folders on the drive.   Don't try moving any of the base folders (Documents, Downloads, etc.) from the User Folder of your SSD to the hard drive.  While it is possible to make it work, I don't recommend it.  Create new folders on the hard drive.


Instead of manually copying items, I suggest using CCC since it will log which items don't get copied in case the copy is interrupted.  You could also make a .dmg archive of stuff you want to keep on the hard drive and place it temporarily on your SSD or possibly your Time Machine drive so you can erase the original hard drive, then use CCC to copy the files from the .dmg to the clean hard drive.  Just make sure to test the .dmg to make sure it will open and your data appears in it before erasing anything.