Fusion Drive or hybrid drive: Which one should you use?

Solid-state drives (SSDs) are expensive, especially if want a capacity above 1TB. That's why hard drives still rule the roost, even though they don't offer the speed of an SSD. Apple's software-based Fusion Drive provides a compromise: it uses a small amount of high-performance SSD alongside a higher-capacity HDD. macOS caches frequently used drive-based data in the SSD, boosting performance.

When deciding on a drive for an iMac I purchased earlier this year, I felt that the performance I’d get from the $700 jump from a 1TB Fusion Drive to a 1TB SSD simply wasn’t worth it. Apple pairs a 32GB SSD with its 1TB hard drive, and 128GB with its 2TB and 3TB options.

Macworld reader Terence would like to upgrade an older iMac to a newer version of macOS, and wants to create his own Fusion Drive. Apple’s technical support told him, he says, that he can migrate to High Sierra and then use it to create a Fusion Drive with bring-your-own-drive options. The folks at OWC have a detailed blog post about the technical steps to pull this together. (Terence also wonders about how to set this up given that High Sierra will force APFS on an SSD, but since it doesn’t work with Fusion Drives yet, I don’t think that’s an issue.)

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Dropbox or iCloud Drive: Which is better for file sharing?

iCloud Drive isn’t quite like Google Drive or Dropbox. As with most Apple digital and cloud services, it’s tied to a single identity without much in the way of sharing. iCloud Drive's sharing features seem a bit tacked on.

Macworld reader Howard writes in asking about an aspect of this. “I was hoping also to have my wife’s iCloud drive show up on my Mac’s Finder the way I do with Dropbox. I haven’t been able to get this to work.”

It’s not you, Howard. You can only mount a given iCloud Drive associated with an iCloud account on an account in macOS logged into that same iCloud account. With some previous Apple cloud storage systems, you could use the credentials (user name and password) to mount a drive without having your system logged into the same account.

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How to allow remote access to your Mac

Computers are ubiquitous, and you've probably had an instance where you are using a computer in one place and you need to access a computer in another location. For example, you're at a coffee shop with a laptop, and you need something from the desktop computer in your home office. You might even want to give people you know the ability to access a computer when they are away. This ability is called remote access.

Macworld reader Sandy has three remote access scenarios she’d like to get set up:

  • One contractor accessing an iMac remotely to use QuickBooks on the iMac. But that contractor is using Windows.
  • Another contractor who has a Mac and needs to access a different iMac on a daily basis.
  • The first iMac might sometimes need to be accessed remotely by the second contractor and by Sandy.
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Find your Apple devices to be intrusive? Here’s how to turn it down on your Mac, iPhone, and iPad

Macworld reader Sherry wants Apple to leave her alone. She’s disabled Siri and doesn’t use iCloud Photo Library. But she finds Apple seems to be paying attention in ways she doesn’t like.

She writes:

I was distressed to see an item tentatively added to my calendar after texting about it with a friend. Also I have recently been presented with “memories” from Apple of photos and where they were taken. Although I have nothing to hide, I don’t want this kind of intrusion on my privacy. Also, is there a way to wirelessly sync my iPhone and iPad photos to my Mac without using the iCloud library?

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iCloud Photo Library: Finding a way to sort photos by the device they were created with

If you use multiple iPhones, iPads, and Macs, iCloud Photo Library is a handy way to keep photos from those devices in one place. However, all those photos are stored in one place, and Macworld reader Allan wants to know if there’s a way to separate out media brought in from all those devices in Photos for iOS and macOS.

Oddly, there’s not. In Photos 3 for macOS 10.13 High Sierra, Apple added a kind of perpetual Imports history, so you can see in which batches images were imported into the app in macOS. But that doesn’t distinguish by device.

The smart album feature is both very powerful and very limited, in that it allows you to specify many different kinds of parameters, but not the name of device or other embedded metadata.

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Why photo counts might differ between Photos in iOS, macOS, and iCloud.com

Computers are supposed to be good at counting, right? So why do the numbers sometimes not add up for photos? Macworld reader Jeffrey asks a question that’s similar to ones asked by others:

The photo count between my Mac and my iPhone are not the same. I use iTunes syncing along with My Photo Stream to keep the devices identical. Something has gone amiss. I don’t have any idea how to troubleshoot the image counts since iTunes is supposed to be syncing the images. How might I determine if a problem really exists, and if so, how do I fix it?

There are long-running discussions on Apple’s forums about iTunes syncing not matching up numbers in iPhoto and Photos for macOS and iOS devices. These seem to stem from deleted photos where corresponding thumbnails remain in the library databases. If that’s the case, you can rebuild an iPhoto library with these instructions and repair a Photos library by following these directions.

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How to upgrade a drive with High Sierra and APFS

The new Apple File System (APFS) that replaces the long-running HFS+ in macOS caused a lot of concern and confusion, because it seemed like a massive change, but the effects aren’t noticeable to end users, except in improving the speed of SSD-only Macs. (Apple doesn’t upgrade hard drives to APFS, and hasn’t yet released a Fusion APFS update for its mixed SSD/hard drive systems.)

APFS restructures how files are stored in a disk partition, but it doesn’t change how programs access files within the operating system. When copying individual files or cloning a drive with Disk Utility, SuperDuper, or Carbon Copy Cloner ($40), macOS continues to abstract interaction with files, so you don’t have to learn anything about the filesystem to use it or to use cloning software. (That’s just so long as the cloning software is up to date. Carbon Copy Cloner released a major update for APFS weeks ago, and SuperDuper finished its beta testing and released an APFS-ready version 3.0 on November 8.)

Macworld reader Doyle wonders if any of this causes issues when migrating from one drive to another. He wants to upgrade from his existing SSD to one that’s larger, and he’s previously relied on Disk Utility. Because Apple has provided much detail about APFS, he’s concerned that this might not work this time out. He’d prefer to use Disk Utility, but isn’t opposed to buying a piece of software to clone if it would provide extra abilities.

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