CASE STUDY: Upgrading My Data Management and Backup System

What can you do when your data management and backup systems are not as efficient and effective as you would like them to be? Below is a recap of proactive steps that I took to address this problem.

As a single user, I run a number of applications that, when evaluated as a group, demand a large and robust data storage and backup system. For instance, I perform all of my image processing tasks using Adobe Photoshop; use Final Cut Pro and Soundtrack Pro to create videos; maintain a music and audio library that consumes 38 gigabytes of disk space; and have a need to run two virtual machines – Windows 7 and Windows XP – using Parallels. Given those operating parameters, I would frequently see the available storage space on my 240 gb boot drive (an SSD) fall perilously close to or below that 10% threshold.

While many may question why I had also configured a backup drive to have bootable copy of an older Mac OS (Mountain Lion 10.8), I did this so I could run several applications like Now-Up-To-Date that contain past client data that I need to access periodically and are unsupported under more recent systems like Yosemite 10.11 and Sierra 10.12.

I apply the same logic and rationale in having the ability to run two versions of Windows on my Mac: I specifically keep Windows XP around because it’s the only OS that fully supports my Canon LiDE 80 scanner that’s 13 years old but still provides the functionality that I need. While the Mac version of VueScan 9 allows me to scan plain text documents and black and white photos, I found that I can digitize color correctly without artifacts using the scanner’s slide and film adapter only if I booted up the native Canon driver and software in XP.

Conventional hard drives (HDDs) inevitably fail, and I have been relying on two such storage devices that were manufactured 5 years ago or earlier. Knowing this, I took stock of where I was and reflected on what I could do to avoid catastrophe in case one or both of these drives failed. I concluded that if I bought and installed a much larger boot drive into my Mac, I would create a positive ‘ripple effect’ that would benefit me in the long run.

I’ve been very satisfied with the speed enhancement and quiet nature of running a Mac off of an SSD, so I wanted to stick to using one of those storage devices, rather than an HDD. What size of an SSD should I get? 500 gb didn’t seem large enough for my needs, especially when I would have to rely on a slow (5400 rpm) 500 gb drive to produce backup clones of my boot drive using SuperDuper. As a result, I opted to buy a 1 terabyte SSD from Other World Computing (OWC), since I could back up my startup drive using a 1 terabyte 7200 rpm HDD that I already owned and was installed in an external drive case.


1. Preparation. Spent countless hours copying and moving files between storage devices. Purged drives of unnecessary, unwanted, or redundant files and programs.

2. Video editing storage system: 200 GB G-RAID MINI (G-RAID)

While I don’t recall when I bought the G-RAID, I suspect that it may have been about 10 years ago. I copied several gigabytes of video data to the Movies folder on my Mac. I deleted other video files that I didn’t want anymore, leaving about 120 gb free. Finally, I ejected and put the G-RAID drive aside.

3. External storage drive #1: 1 terabyte HDD @ 7200 rpm (D1)

Originally configured with three partitions:

Audio + Documents + Photos (436 GB)
Mac OS X 10.8.5 (64 GB)
Videos + Mac and Windows Installers (500 GB)

Except for my Mountain Lion 10.8.5 configuration, I transferred data that I wanted to keep onto a 500 gb Toshiba HDD that was already installed in a separate OWC Mercury-AL Elite enclosure (D2). I trashed other files that I didn’t want anymore. When finished, I physically removed the Toshiba HDD from D2.

4. Two days after I placed an order, I received delivery of a 1 TB SSD from OWC. I temporarily installed the new SSD in D2. I formatted the SSD into two partitions, allocating a secondary 84 gb partition to hold Mountain Lion which I would clone later on. I opened SuperDuper on my Mac in order to clone 10.12.3 onto the larger partition of the 1 TB SSD. After the cloning process finished and I verified that I could boot 10.12.3 from the new SSD, I removed the SSD from its temporary ‘home.’

5. Using OWC’s online video tutorial as a guide, I removed the existing 240 gb SSD from my computer’s drive bay. I installed the 1 TB SSD that I had already cloned with Sierra 10.12.3. I then confirmed that I completed the hardware installation correctly by successfully booting up my Mac using the larger SSD that I had purchased.

6. I installed my ‘old’ boot drive (240 gb SSD) in the D2 enclosure. I then copied my Mac and Windows installers onto D2 and then put aside this drive.

7. By happenstance, I received a review copy of Drive Genius 5 from ProSoft Engineering a few weeks before the public release date of April 7th.

I reattached the D1 drive enclosure to my Mac and then proceeded to use Drive Genius’ Repartition function to eliminate one of the three partitions I didn’t need anymore and move the Mountain Lion 10.8.5 installation to the end of the drive, leaving the rest of the space free. After the repartitioning process completed (which took over 2 hours), I used SuperDuper again to clone Sierra onto the much larger (900+ gb) partition that I had created.

Afterward, I confirmed that I could use the HDD in D1 to boot from either 10.8.5 or 10.12.3.

8. Prior to ordering the 1 TB SSD, I made periodic backups of my Mac’s boot drive using an OWC Mercury-AL Elite enclosure that contained an identically configured 240 gb SSD. I reformatted the SSD and then copied over the remaining video files from the G-RAID.

9. Next, I cloned Mountain Lion 10.8.5 from D1 onto the free 84 gb partition on my Mac. I learned by trial and error that I had to clone while booted into 10.8.5 from the D1 drive enclosure. I couldn’t clone 10.8.5 successfully while booted into Sierra 10.12.3 on my Mac. In addition, I was unsuccessful in getting a working clone of 10.8.5 running SuperDuper from my D1 enclosure. I had to perform the clone using a different backup tool: Carbon Copy Cloner 3.5.7.

10. Lastly, I ran Drive Genius 5 to perform a secure erase of the G-RAID and 500 gb Toshiba drives. In the case of the slower Toshiba drive, I had to run the secure erase function overnight, because it took many hours to complete.


240 GB SSD startup 10.12.3 + Windows
240 GB SSD clone backup
1 TB HDD data backup #1 + 10.8.5
500 GB HDD data backup #2
200 GB G-RAID video storage

Total Capacity (BEFORE): 2.1 TB – 5 drives


1 TB SSD startup 10.12.3 + 10.8.5 + Windows
1 TB HDD clone backup
240 GB SSD data backup
240 GB SSD video storage

TOTAL Capacity (AFTER): 2.48 TB – 4 drives


G-RAID Mini 200 GB
Toshiba 500 GB HDD


My Mac’s boot drive has more available free space (340 GB vs. 28 GB) and I can open Parallels Desktop to run two Windows operating systems (XP or Windows 7) from both my startup and backup drive.


10 days


Other World Computing

Drive Genius
ProSoft Engineering
Order here

SuperDuper (optional free trial available)
Shirt Pocket
Click here

Carbon Copy Cloner
Download and Ordering Information

Parallels Desktop

SSD vs HDD – Microsoft Windows Boot-Up Speed & Adobe Photoshop Speed Test Comparison
Gecko&Fly | Jan 3, 2017
Click here


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Filed under Apple Software, Data Recovery, Software installation, Third Party Hardware, Third Party Software, Windows on a Mac

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