Released June 2012 / Core i7 processor with Turbo Boost / Up to 1 GB DDR5 Video RAM

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Booting my 750 GB HDD on a MacBook Pro Retina

I purchased a MacBook Pro 15" in early 2012. I was extremely satisfied with the performance till one day it didn't switch on. I had that checked and was told that there was an issue with the motherboard which was caused due to moisture and it needed to be repaired (On turning the system on, a light grey screen appeared displaying the apple logo and lines around it, and nothing loaded further).

The 750 GB hard drive disk was taken out and put in a hard case and I plugged it into an iMac and booted my hard drive through that. While this was a temporary solution and I was hoping to get my laptop back up and running, it was returned to me in the same state as the motherboard could not get repaired. I am therefore wondering what to do next. Replacing a motherboard costs quite a bit and apparently there's only a 3 month warranty on that. I need a laptop as I travel often.

The 15" doesn't quite fit my budget. I have been contemplating on buying either the 13" Macbook Pro with Retina Display with a flash storage of 256 GB or the 512 GB one. I mainly use my laptop for work - Emails (Thunderbird), Skype, MS Office, Adobe Bridge, Photoshop, Illustrator. I often work with pictures and graphics on Photoshop and have many heavy raw files on my hard drive. I use dropbox to store some files that I access often and share with others. Yet, I am using 580 GB+ of my hard drive space. The space on the new MacBook Pros seems really less for the price one has to pay!

I would be extremely happy if someone could advise me on whether I can boot my old 750 GB hard drive through the MacBook Pro with 256 GB flash storage. All my applications ran slower on the iMac that I used (which is a very old model) and I was wondering whether that is only to do with the processor or also to do with the fact that 750 GB was being booted through an iMac of approx 256 GB internal storage. If this works without harming either of the two (my old hard drive and the new system) then I would like to boot my old hard drive to work with my heavy raw files etc. and boot my internal drive when I have regular work with MS office etc. only and when I am traveling. It will be like working on two separate systems but at least I would be able to accommodate my files.

Here are my two apprehensions about this:

- I am afraid that carrying the hard drive around might lead to some damage as it is not as secure as as inbuilt storage

- The new MacBook that I purchase might get damaged if I switch between two operating systems every other day. Even if I don't boot the old hard drive and use it as any other external hard drive and only access the files using the new laptop (which is a way more complicated option), the speed of the new laptop may not be the same as Apple has moved way from the HDD to the flash drive

I hope someone can advise me on this!

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First you can use Migration Assistant to move your apps over to your new system (as well as your iMac) so the apps are on the internal drives on both. Then you can use your HD as a backup drive which is what I would do.

Then you can copy off anything else to your new system from your iMac. Just be mindful your systems storage is less than what you had (SSD Vs HD). You also want to leave about 1/4 to 1/3 of the SSD disk free so that too will make things tight space wise.

This is where you will want to either carry your HD or get a external SSD drive to hold your extra stuff. A SSD drive is the better way as its smaller and not as fragile.

The other option here is to use a sync application so when you get home you can connect your two systems together so any new data files are magically copied over to your other system.

If you have internet access you can use iCloud services as well here to host your important files.

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You raise some interesting issues here...

I think you'll need a second external drive here. As I had stated having an external SSD drive maybe something you want to have for your active work files. You will have an issue trying to get TimeMachine to backup both volumes. While it can be done it does make isolating files harder when you need a given file and you will need to remember to always have the external drive connected.

But that might not be as big a problem as it sounds. I would limit TimeMachine to focus on the internal drive alone. But now to backup your external data drive you'll use a file sync app like what I described above.

The last thing here is getting another backup going (3rd external drive). As it sounds like you'll need it. The newer versions of TimeMachine allow you to create multiple backups and can even have some that are encrypted! Here's a write up on it: How to use multiple disks with Time Machine in Mountain Lion. Don't forget the file sync program can also do this.

Bottom line here: You'll end up with two data sets one being created by TimeMachine and the other the file sync program. You'll want to have two external backup drives (HD's) and one work drive (SSD).

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Dan, thank you so much for your reply! Moving my applications over to the new system using Migration assistant is a great idea! I haven’t moved anything to the iMac as I borrowed this from a friend.

I use a 1TB Seagate Backup Plus to backup my system through Time Machine. Since my MacBook Pro stopped working, I have been booting my HD through the iMac or at times even a friend’s MacBook Pro and that works great since it looks like my own system (only works slower) and I am able to backup my work through Time Machine.

Going from 750 GB of space to 216 GB or even 532 GB is quite unnerving.

I have lost all my data once in the past and therefore I am extremely careful now about backing up my files.

My concern is that if I only plug in my 750 GB drive and use it to access the heavier files or purchase a SSD, how would I be able to backup these files (I would imagine that the Time Machine will only backup my internal drive)?

I was considering a cloud based solution too but I do not have stable internet all the time and therefore this may not work out the best.

I usually have days where I focus on graphics and RAW files and I was wondering if it would make sense to boot the old drive through my new system on these days and work with these files and boot my internal hard drive on all other days and when I am traveling. In this way I could probably have the Time Machine running on both with two separate backup drives and keep my data safe. Do you think this could do any harm to the new system? Also is it logical to boot a 750 GB drive through a system with a much lower capacity and expect it to run smoothly (the processor on the new system would be better than my 2012 laptop)?

I look forward to reading your thoughts on this!

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K86 will be eternally grateful.
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