I have a Satechi hub attached to my M1 Mac Mini and boot the OS off of a 2TB SSD in the Satechi. This gives me far more disk space than I have on my Mini. But I have a major problem in that I cannot add updates to the SSD—when I try, they always fail and the SSD remains unupdated. Does anyone else have such a setup and any tips for dealing with this? Thanks!
Are you keeping the internal SSD updated too? Unlike Intel Macs, this is critical because no matter what you boot your M1 mini from, the internal SSD is where it has its firmware (including LLB, the first stage bootloader). This needs to remain up to date, also so that there’s a full recovery system available even when the external disk isn’t connected, or has a problem.
I haven’t been, I’ll give it a try. Thanks for the tip.
Alas, updating the internal drive didn’t solve my problem. Each time I try to update the external drive’s os, I get a failure and the message “Your computer was restarted because of a problem,” i.e., some kind of crash in the updating process which aborts it.
You might want to test another external solution using a Thunderbolt 3 or 4 enclosure: the Sabrent aluminum TB enclosures are very nice. I have 2TB NVME drives in mine.
I’m just getting acquainted with the quirks of an M1 Mini. Latest was that when I attached a drive to the Mini through an Anker USB-C hub, it was not seen as a bootable drive. This is not a total surprise, as I have read reports of the M series not wanting to boot from USB-C drives: so I’m a bit surprised that you were able to get the drive in the Satechi hub to boot. I have looked at those, and the design is very tempting, but they have limitations:
Designed to fit snugly underneath your Mac mini M1/M2 or Mac Studio computer, the Satechi Stand and Hub can help streamline your productivity by enhancing your system’s capabilities. This hub connects to your Mac mini via an integrated USB-C 3.1 Gen 1 cable that can transfer data at up to 5 Gb/s. Across its front are three USB-A 3.1 Gen 1 ports and one USB-C port for quickly connecting compatible peripherals such as flash drives. You can also transfer photos, videos, and other files using the SD and microSD card slots. Additionally, the 3.5mm audio jack allows you to listen to music, watch movies, and video chat in relative privacy. Install a separately purchased M.2 SATA solid-state drive into the hub’s internal enclosure to expand your storage capacity. Please note that this hub does not work with NVMe drives.
Mac Mini M2 & M2 Pro (2023)
Mac Mini M1 (2020)
Mac Studio (2022)
Does not support 2018 & earlier Mac Mini models. The Internal SSD enclosure only fits M.2 SATA SSD drives and does not work with NVMe. The USB-A ports will not charge iPads or support CD readers, including Apple SuperDrive.
Drives in Sabrent TB 3 enclosure are available to boot from.
I find it discouraging that Apple provided so few port options on this model. At least one more TB port would have been SO useful.
Another quirk: I had the M1 connected to a 2-port IOgear HDMI switch for a short period to share the one monitor in this small workspace. The other Mac on the switch is a 2015 MBP. Switching back and forth is flawless when the switch is connected to a 2012 Mini and the MBP. When the M1 is connected rather than the 2012 Mini, and I switch over to the M1 Mini, I can’t switch back because the MBP goes into a coma as soon as sleep kicks in, from which it can’t be awakened except by rudely powering it off and rebooting. Only happens when the M1 is sharing the switch.
I’ve never actively disliked a new Mac before, so this is a new experience.
Those Sabrent TB3 enclosures are indeed quite nice. I like that the cable is not firmly connected to the case, but I know some prefer it the other way around for convenience sake.
Just for completeness, I’ll also note there is a similar enclosure from OWC, “Envoy Express”, that’s usually a tad less expensive.
Thank you so much for the thoughtful reply. I will definitely take a look at this. The question is is there any way to have a large boot drive without giving Apple thousands of dollars. As a Mac user since 1985 or so, the last ten years or so have been disappointing.
Thanks, I buy lots of OWC stuff, so it would be worth checking out their options.
I will be branded a heretic by many for this opinion.
Booting from an external drive on an M1/2 Mac is nowhere near as easy as it was back in the “good old days”. It can be done, but the steps are not as obvious and upgrades can be, shall we say, challenging.
And since you need that internal drive in order to boot anything on M1/M2 Macs, you might as well use that expensive (but wicked fast, faster than any external SSD because of TB3 bandwidth limits, as well as its integrated always-on encryption) SSD storage. You will save yourself a lot of agita by getting a 512GB SSD in the Mac, keep your apps and home folder on it, then use a less expensive external TB3 or USB SSD and use it for project file storage, documents, downloads, music/photo media libraries, virtual machines, etc.
One caveat to that: for me, I’m about to move my Photos library back to my (already crowded) internal SSD. Photos (the app) really seems to want it there. It mostly works on the external drive, but it’s fragile. Library seems to get corrupted easily, when traveling I have to remember never to launch Photos unless the external drive is attached, otherwise Photos will silently create a new one on my internal drive and now i have two.
It depends on your needs and wants. I want to be able to boot from Monterey, and I don’t need the supposedly blinding speed of the internal drive. I have Monterey on my 2TB TB3 drive. I haven’t yet decided on whether to de-Ventura the internal. I bought a refurb M1 that has 1TB storage so I have some breathing room, whatever I decide.
The M1 Mini seems like a ridiculously limited machine, at least to me. Not enough ports, and jumping through hoops to do simple things is not progress. Also, Apple’s aesthetics are circling the drain, in the user interface and in the some of the new hardware designs. I don’t often have to look at the awful login screens, but I’m disgusted every time I look at what they have chosen to assault my eyes with in Big Sur and subsequent OS versions. I wish I could use Boot Buddy to de-uglify the login screen, but it does not work with Big Sur and later.
I have bought a lot from OWC also. I have the Ministack STX sitting under my 2018 Mini. I may get one for the M1, if I can get enthused about doing some work with it.
For the 2018 Mini, I installed a 1TB SSD that I can boot from, and a 6TB hard drive for storage.
I don’t have any problems keeping my Photos library on an external drive. If the drive isn’t connected, and Photos creates a new empty library, you can switch back to the original library by double-clicking on it (there’s also a Location preference in Settings/General). I haven’t had any corruption issues.
Ditto for my (very large) Music library. I don’t want to waste SSD space on music and photos.
The M1 Mini doesn’t have enough ports. I bought an OWC thunderbolt hub to get round this.