The Pros and Cons of Converting Your Photography Workflow to Apple’s New Mac Pro

(The following post was written by photographer Jeff Cable who recently purchased Apple’s much talked about new Mac Pro computer and reconfigured his photography workflow from the previous model. The story originally appeared on Cable’s blog in a slightly different form. You can follow Cable on his Facebook page.)

By Jeff Cable

After years of waiting to see if Apple was ever going to come out with a new Mac Pro, earlier this year Apple announced the new model for 2013. And then, after way too many months of waiting, my new Mac Pro has finally arrived!

Wow – what a difference in size between the old Mac Pro and the new one! The old Mac Pro was really large and built up some serious heat. During the summer it was painful to work on the machine as it did double duty as a computer and a heater in my office. This new computer is tiny in comparison and seems to run cool all the time.

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With that said, the size of the new Mac Pro is relative, in that there is only room for the one SSD and does not have space for any additional hard drives.

When I saw the announcement of the new computer, with no expansion options for internal drives, I was a bit put off. Storage is VERY important to me and I use a lot of drive space. Apple’s philosophy is to use external drives connected through Thunderbolt. This is supposed to be a very fast solution, but also adds more devices on my desk.

Thinking that the new computer was coming in December, I started my transition plan months ago. I figured out what accessories I would need and purchased those in advance. I bought some adapters, cables, and an external optical drive (knowing that I would need to burn some CDs or DVDs for clients).

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I knew that I needed to get all the information off of my old Mac, which had an SSD and three 3TB Western Digital hard drives, and move the data onto Thunderbolt drives. My first step was to get a Thunderbolt hard drive that could hold a lot of data.

I decided on the Western Digital 8TB drive. But I also knew that there was no way to connect this drive to my existing Mac Pro, since this machine did not have a Thunderbolt port. I devised a plan in which I would transfer all of my data to my older Drobo S, which had FireWire 800 and USB 3.0. I connected the Drobo to my older Mac through FireWire 800 and transferred all of my photos over many evenings.

Then, since I have a Macbook Pro which has USB 3.0 and Thunderbolt, I connected the Drobo S to the USB 3.0 port and the new WD 8TB drive to the Thunderbolt port and moved all the data from the older Drobo to the new and fast Thunderbolt drive. That took approximately 14 hours, but I did this overnight, so it was not a problem.

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I later realized that I could have also used an inexpensive Thunderbolt to FireWire 800 cable to connect the newer hard drive to the older computer. I purchased one of those, but had trouble getting it to work correctly. Since I have more than 7TB of photos which is nearly filling the WD 8TB drive, I am also connecting my Drobo 5D with 16TB of WD drives as additional storage and backup. This might be a little overkill, but it gives me plenty of room for the future.

I had a 2TB Western Digital Passport Ultra drive connected to my older Mac Pro, acting as a Time Machine backup of the SSD. This means that my operating system and applications are always being backed up. I could have connected this time machine drive to the new MacPro and moved all the applications, but decided that I wanted to start with a clean install.

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So, I booted up the new Mac Pro and installed the most important applications (Photo Mechanic, Photoshop CC, MS Office, Chrome, NIK Software…). I wasn’t sure how to deactivate Adobe CC from my old machine, but it turned out to be simple. I just signed out on the old machine, signed in to the new one. Simple!

I also moved many of my preference files and data files (like Mail, Photoshop brushes and actions, Photo Mechanic IPTC data) over from the old machine so that many of my settings would be on the new machine. I was really happy that so much of my data was transferred to this new computer over the cloud. All of my browser info (bookmarks, cookies, settings) came across seamlessly with Chrome, and iCloud made sure that all my contacts and calendar info were on the new machine. That was really handy.

Read the rest of Cable’s story and see more photos on his blog.

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One Response to “The Pros and Cons of Converting Your Photography Workflow to Apple’s New Mac Pro”

  1. Paul Ross Says:

    I have the new MacPro and a 2008 MBP. I have used a network cable to connect the two and I have access to all of my images on both the MBP and all of my eSATA exernal hard drives.
    My web site is http://www.jasperphoto.ca.