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Moving the Home Directory in Lion

32029 Views 14 Replies Latest reply: Feb 11, 2012 9:34 PM by tokyoprogressive RSS
nich.lee Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
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Aug 6, 2011 1:59 PM

I've found a number of articles on moving the home directory in snow leopard and about its pluses and minuses. I have the 27" iMac i7 with a 256GB SSD and a 2TB HDD. I would really like to be able to move the home folder to the HDD, but not sure how this will work in Lion and thus I'm avoiding the upgrade so far. Has anyone had experience with moving their home folder in Lion or upgrading to Lion after the home folder moved off of the boot drive? I know I can move just the iTunes folder and iPhoto library, but I'd like to keep it all organzied under the home folder. AppleCare is not a fan of doing this, but it's a big part of why I bought this specific computer with the separate drives.



27" iMac Quad Core, Mac OS X (10.6.6)
  • William Lloyd Level 6 Level 6 (19,205 points)
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    Aug 6, 2011 2:07 PM (in response to nich.lee)

    Just FYI, performance with your home directory on the SSD will be faster for everything than if you move it.


    Also, SSDs don't slow down as they fill like spinning drives... I really can't see why you wouldn't want to have everything but your photo and iTunes libraries on the SSD.

  • The hatter Level 9 Level 9 (58,545 points)
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    Aug 6, 2011 2:28 PM (in response to nich.lee)

    I have to agree about leaving the ~/Library on the SSD which does get hit with a lot of I/O


    I would move evrerything else, no need for it on the SSD.


    Mail in Lion can, depending on size and threaded conversations, is best left on the SSD.


    The question should still be answered how to move home folder.


    moving your home directory


    Moving your Users Folder


    Apple made it easier with 10.5 and up, so it is there, and for a purpose.

    Just be aware that you if you need to restore, or, if you for some reason need to go back, always leave at least ~/Library (and that is now hidden so you might want to drag it to the sidebar)


    ~/Library should take up no more than 1GB


    Even with TRIM you want to allow for more free space than "meets the eye" - depends how much data you update and a month's worth of writes.


    If your SSD was from Apple, the brand can vary wildly in terms of performance, another factor to consider.

  • The hatter Level 9 Level 9 (58,545 points)
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    Aug 6, 2011 3:56 PM (in response to nich.lee)

    Every program has a preference setting for the location.


    Nothing special.


    If you want, you could copy your home folder on Drive A to a folder on Drive B and use Carbon Copy Cloner to make the copy.


    Backup your SSD so you have a boot partition, so 200GB probably, somewhere.

    Make a backup image or partition for your home account, for safety and to sychronize and restore if needed. In addition to TimeMachine.


    Carbon Copy Cloner could copy the home folder and its ownership property. Those are not system permissions, which are based on receipts; your files and r/w are part of ownership.


    You could just drag folders. I prefer not to. I also like to use Tri-Backup 5 to synchronize folders and see more closely folder ownership and properties and more control over the move.


    Using Cloning as a Backup Strategy


    Carbon Copy Cloner 3.4.2


    If you want to make a full disk sector copy of everything, including hidden recovery partition, something like Clone X 4 (same people, TED, as Tribackup). Might be useful, or might want to use your Lion installer app again to setup and create an alternate system drive that has its own recovery partition as well.


    Clone X 4.0

  • stm621 Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
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    Aug 14, 2011 10:12 AM (in response to The hatter)

    Total MAC newbie, and like the OP I just bought a iMac 27' I7 with 256SSD and 1 TB HD2. Are you saying moving your home folder is a bad thing? I am just looking for some seasoned insight because I too would like to keep everything on the SSD, except for pics, video, and photos. Any advice would be appreciated, and thanks in advance.

  • Alpesh Gor Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
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    Jan 12, 2012 7:27 AM (in response to nich.lee)

    I'd like to resurrect this post please.


    I'm on Lion. My wife and I both have separate accounts. Right now, I do not store any documents (Pictures, Movies etc) on my Boot Drive. All of this is stored on my second internal drive.


    Unfortunately, this does not allow my wife and I to separate our documents. She has access to mine and I to hers.


    But I want to be able to only access the docs for the persons account that has been logged in to.


    So, which method do I use? Moving the Home Directory? Or moving Users Folders?


    The Moving Home Directory link given above seemed to have caused all those on Snow Leopard and Lion to have problems. Can anyone confirm if there's been a work around for the problems?

  • Alasdair Mackie1 Level 1 Level 1 (15 points)
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    Jan 12, 2012 10:11 AM (in response to Alpesh Gor)

    I'm in this position too. I'm surprised there isn't an official Mac OS tool for doing this. I have a 256 Gb SSD and 750Gb HDD. I can in fact get EVERYTHING on the SSD - but for efficiency I wanted to move my data to the HDD.


    I didn't want to touch Terminal - and the instructions above for using CCC seemed over complex, so I followed the instructions on the 'How to move the home folder' link, and for my wife's account everything worked 100% just fine. It is easy to do, so long as you remember that you must log in as each user to copy the folders to the origin drive to the destination drive (SSD to HDD in my case). She has very little data however!


    I then did the same for my account - which has loads of music and photos.


    All seemed to go well, but I had problems with Mail and iBank. When I started the application (and the same may apply to other applications which I haven't tried yet), I just got the spinning beach-ball. Other apps are fine (Safari, 1Password, MailSteward, Reunion, MS Office are the  key ones I've tested).


    I then got into fiddling with permissions, and fear I made things worse. So tomorrow I am doing a completely clean install of Lion, then creating the home folders on the SSD and re-installing every application from scratch!!!


    I'll update with how it goes.


    (I think it will be good for my soul (and computer) to do this as there is probably lots of stuff I don't need and so a clear-out is overdue!)

  • rji2goleez Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
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    Jan 12, 2012 5:36 PM (in response to Alasdair Mackie1)

    I've been separating my home folder from my operating system since leopard, the snow leopard and now Lion.  The main reason is that if the OS gets corrupted, a fresh reinstall is easy.  Reach Chris Parillo's description of the how and why.  It's quite easy.


  • Alasdair Mackie1 Level 1 Level 1 (15 points)
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    Jan 14, 2012 1:54 AM (in response to rji2goleez)

    Yup! Clean install and move the home folders as described and everything is good....

  • mixellita Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
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    Jan 17, 2012 2:15 PM (in response to Alasdair Mackie1)

    I cant make it work with this method ..


    I used to do this on Leopard .. now Im on a Lion Server ( mac mini server )

    Did everything as the link said but when I login ..cant make System Preferences to work!

    Its empty!


    Maybe a Lion Server problem !?


  • Alpesh Gor Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
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    Jan 20, 2012 5:16 AM (in response to mixellita)

    I'm just running through a trial run of the above-method.


    One thing I noticed is, if I go into System Preferences, I am NOT seeing the "Accounts" icon in the System section. Will I only see this ONCE I've dragged my Home Folder to my 2nd HD? Or should I see the "Accounts" icon anyway?


    PS I'm using Lion.

  • KnightRyder Calculating status...
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    Jan 25, 2012 11:24 AM (in response to nich.lee)

    This is the correct way to do this, and yes I have used this method on 3 different machines running Lion.  It works great and you don't have the problems with permissions that you will experience using the above links on that chris pirillo site.  Scroll down to "makin copies" in the following link and follow the steps after that and it should work for moving your home folder to another drive with all permissions in tact.  Make sure you follow the directions and complete both the "movin copies" and "redirecting information" sections (the tips sections to the right help a lot when using the ditto command). 





    Hope this helps you guys as it has helped me,


  • colinet Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
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    Feb 9, 2012 8:51 PM (in response to KnightRyder)

    Did the fresh install of Lion - did the advanced options in uers preferences on my brand new 12 core MacPro = complete bloody disaster.

    DO NOT DO IT. - got a 'can't access 'username' at this time' message - no solution offered like the ability to set up another user.

    I lost 24 hours of my life because using the reinstall option ended up just the same - can't access 'user' at ths time no other option but to boot up into Safari - what on earth for? Got the can't access message again after 're-installing Lion' so I - ended up taking theSSD out of the MacPro and erasing it. THEN I finally got Lion re-installed and am now going thrugh all the hours of re-ibntalling everything again.

  • tokyoprogressive Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
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    Feb 11, 2012 9:34 PM (in response to nich.lee)

    ok, not a newbie but easily confused.


    It says a few posts backnhow to move home folder and how to move user folder.  (Hatter, Aug 6) But the caveat was not to move libraries. Yet at this link it says the Library folder is inside the Home folder. Or is this different? The link HOW TO MOVE HOME FOLDER does not mention this, so guessing these are different.



    What I have is 256 SSD and 2 TB HDD in 27 inch late model IMac with Lion.


    Only 48 GB free in SSD and HDD nearly empty.


    Also, how do I find what is taking up space on the SDD?  Even adding 40 CDs did not bring the level down so much, so I suspect something else. 


    Also, I have videos in ITunes that seem to be partial duplicates of videos in IPhoto.CanI safely remove these,mor do the two programs share the same videos?




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