New MAC Mini and External Hard Drive

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jeanne
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New MAC Mini and External Hard Drive

Post by jeanne » Fri Feb 22, 2013 3:53 pm

I've got a MAC Mini that I purchased in 2009, plus an external iomega hard drive. Thanks to the PUD power surges they
have a slew of problems and I've decided to get a new Mini and Hard Drive rather than try to fiddle with the old one.

Anyway, I was wondering if this is the way for me to go - I have a gorgeous 21" monitor, and do photo restoration so I don't want to downsize that at all. Also own a new iPad which I hardly ever use, an iTouch and a couple IPods for different applications. I don't play any games and mostly do research and e-mail, facebook.

Is there anything I should look for when I visit the Apple store on Wednesday? Also, since I should be purchasing a heavy duty power surge protector, could anyone give me a recommendation for one. I lost my amplifier to the surges also, and when I wrote a very polite letter to PUD, they said "Sorry, Act of God, we're not liable". I don't want this to happen again.

Thank you for your help --

Jean Sokolinski

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Richard Serkes
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Re: New MAC Mini and External Hard Drive

Post by Richard Serkes » Fri Feb 22, 2013 4:30 pm

Buy a UPS. Not only will it protect your hardware from blackouts and brownouts it will give you much better surge protection than even a heavy duty surge protector. If you get the kind with a data cable it'll even shut down your Mac properly if you can't get to it during a blackout.

I'd recommend a brand called APC, but I've had good service from other manufacturers.

I feel your pain. Last July when we had that lightning storm I sustained over $4,000 in damages to the electronics on my generator and gate operator. The gate operator was on a surge protector but it wasn't protected from a nearby lightning strike. However, here at the house with all of my sensitive electronics on UPSs there was no damage at all.
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Stephen Hart
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Re: New MAC Mini and External Hard Drive

Post by Stephen Hart » Fri Feb 22, 2013 4:36 pm

I'm a fan of Other World Computing drive enclosures. The even have one designed for the mini:
http://eshop.macsales.com/item/NewerTech/MSC7S20TB64/

Note that if you're using an external drive to expand your mini you need to back up both it and the internal to another external. My current comfort zone is Time Machine (needs to be 2x the total to be backed up) plus occasional bootable clones.
(I actually have two Time Machine drives that I swap every couple of months, so a failed Time Machine drive only loses me the most recent changed files.)

Another option is the mini server, which comes with two 1TB drives. I'm not sure of the details, but I think those can be set up as one logical drive. The server features added to Mountain Lion can be ignored.

If you are happy with your monitor, you can save some money with a mini. However, you might want to compare to an iMac. The monitor on my 2010 27" iMac is gorgeous (and the newer ones are probably better). My iMac works very well with a large Aperture library and with Photoshop CS 6.

In any case, I recommend adding as much RAM as you can, especially for photo work. If you're uncomfortable taking your brand-new Mac apart, you can customize when you order. Changing RAM on the new 27" iMac is easy, not so much on the 21.5". I added RAM to 16 GB, and may double that when RAM prices go down a bit more.
You could couple an iMac's built-in monitor to your existing monitor, though having two monitors does add some complexity.
I found my 27" monitor imposing at first (compared to two 17" monitors before), but soon grew to love it.

Even with a large Aperture library, I'm still OK with a 1 TB internal drive.

Another note:
Your new Mac will come with Thunderbolt. Using an external with Thunderbolt will dramatically improve file-transfer speed, and therefore backup speed. I'll leave it to you or others to compare prices.

As to surge protection, Richard's right, as usual. But all good multiple-outlet strips have surge protection these days, and most come with a large insurance policy. You're generally better off always using one for electronics, even if you don't need the several outlets. Costco usually carries at least one high-end outlet strip/surge protector. Where I live, we get power outages often in the fall, but never surges. And I've never, in 30 years, lost a single file to a power outage. (Knock on wood!)
But if you want to got with an UPS, APC is mentioned a lot.
"Design is not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works."
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Richard Serkes
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Re: New MAC Mini and External Hard Drive

Post by Richard Serkes » Fri Feb 22, 2013 4:54 pm

Surge protection is measured in joules. PUD told me that when they have surges they tend to be in the 500-700 range. Uh huh. I wouldn't consider a surge protector that offered less than 1,500 joules worth of protection.

My beef with surge protectors is that they either work like circuit breakers or just blow themselves up thereby stopping the flow of electricity to your hardware. The breaker variety will shut down power to your Mac until you reset the breaker and the kind that blow themselves up have to be replaced after each surge. So both will turn off your Mac incorrectly causing all kinds of compromised and destroyed files. Anything in RAM is gone. Bye bye! So you better have a real good backup to restore those compromised files.

How much did you pay for your Mac Mini? How much for your monitor and external hard drive(s)? Pay another $50-$60 to protect all that with a UPS. Oh, don't bother to put the printer on the battery backup side of the UPS. You can put your printer on the surge protection only side.
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