Editing photos from external Hd vs internal SSD.

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by Qwerty11, Oct 31, 2017.

  1. Qwerty11 macrumors regular

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    Sep 1, 2010
    #1
    Hi all. Would there be any noticeable difference with editing photos from an external HD vs if they were stored on the internal SSD?
     
  2. OreoCookie macrumors 68030

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    Apr 14, 2001
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    Sendai, Japan
    #2
    Yes, definitely, there will be a substantial performance hit for two reasons: first of all, SSDs are much, much faster than hard drives, and then secondly, the external hard drive might be slowed down by the interface that you use.

    I would recommend to store only photos on external hard drives that you access less frequently and do not actively work on.
     
  3. Fishrrman macrumors P6

    Fishrrman

    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2009
    #3
    I disagree with the poster above.

    I routinely store my photo library on a platter-based 5400rpm drive (the internal drive that came with my Mac mini.

    I boot the Mini from an external SSD in a USB3/SATA dock.

    I have no problems viewing/editing my photo libraries this way.
    None at all.
     
  4. dwig macrumors 6502a

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    Key West FL
    #4
    It would depend on the type of editor you are using and the way it is configured.

    If using a true bitmap editor (e.g. Photoshop, ...) there would be no difference in actual editing. It would take longer to load and save the image, but editing operations would be unaffected by the source drive. Editing takes place in memory and the app's swap file locations, neither of these are any different for images loaded from an internal drive, SSD or HD, or an external drive, again whether SSD or HD.

    Apps that do proxy editing will often write to the source drive during the "editing" process. If they function this way it is possible that these background writes will sometimes slow down the system enough to affect editing performance. It is, though, quite unlikely to happen with well written apps on modern computers.
     
  5. Sebct macrumors regular

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    Dec 18, 2010
    Location:
    London, UK.
    #5
    If you're planning on using Lightroom or similar - I'd recommend working with them on your internal SSD and then move them onto your external when you're done.
     
  6. dwig macrumors 6502a

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    #6
    Lightroom (now "Adobe Photoshop Lightroom Classic CC 2018") it's more complex than what this implies.

    With Lr, ignoring the new cloud version, the storage location for the previews and library database is separate from the location of the actual image files. To get the best performance, you definitely what the database and previews to be on the internal SSD. Having the actual files on an external device, SSD or HD, will not slow down operations significantly, at least in most cases, and never hinders "editing" performance once in the Develop module.
     
  7. Qwerty11 thread starter macrumors regular

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    Sep 1, 2010
    #7
    So what is the best way to move in and move it photos from Lightroom or Apple photos to the SSD on the Mac, while still keeping the majority of the photos in the external HD?
     
  8. OreoCookie macrumors 68030

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    #8
    The OP's question was not whether there are problems, but whether storing the photo library internally is significantly faster. My MacBook Pro's SSD is 7-15x faster than the average read/write speed of a spinning platter hard drive and seek times are at least 10x faster. I do store older Aperture libraries on my Synology NAS and external hard drives, and I can open them and browse them just fine. But when doing edits on many photos, it is significantly slower.

    If you open a single photo in Photoshop, I agree, it may not matter much, but if you load a project in your DAM with 200 -300 photos in them, shot in RAW at, say 30 MB a piece, that's at least 6 GB. With my SSD all the data is loaded in less than 10 seconds, whereas if the files are stored on a hard drive, that would take closer to 2 minutes. DAM software can mask that to a degree, but it can't beat the laws of physics.
    I would suggest another workflow: import new projects to your SSD and then move the files off to an external hard drive once you are done with them or they are sufficiently “old”. With Lightroom and other DAM (digital asset managers) you can do that. I wouldn't immediately put newly imported photos on an external spinning platter hard drive.
     
  9. FredT2 macrumors 6502a

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    Mar 18, 2009
    #9
    I think that the point is that Lightroom has never benefitted much by the use of SSDs. Plenty of thorough tests demonstrated this. I personally keep the Lightroom catalog and previews on the SSD even though there's not a lot of speed benefit, because I have the space to do so and it certainly doesn't hurt, but my photos go on an external hard drive.
     
  10. dwig macrumors 6502a

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    Key West FL
    #10
    This is a good approach and likely the best for most users.

    At work, we keep everything on an external drive. I work for a landscape/wildlife photographer so the image volume is "modest" compared to wedding/event photographers. We have slightly less than 2000 titles in our catalog and the Lr files (images, previews, catalog, Lr's backups, ...) only takeup ~1.6Tb. Having everything in one folder tree makes the monthly offsite backups easier. We use Lr primarily as a super-RAW converter and use its DAM functions only for new RAW images. Once "processed" the images move to Ps and are then saved as PSB and PSD files on another external drive. Since Lr can't handle many of our files (e.g. 10-14Gb PSB format files, ...) we can't use Lr as a DAM for our finalized master and production files.

    This arrangement works fine. Editing in Ps is in no way hindered by the files being sourced from the external HD other than the load and save times. Once open in Ps, all editing is in memory and in swap files, which are on the internal SSD. Lr, particularily the new Classic 2018, is easily fast enough when sorting, finding, and Developing our 36mp RAW files from the HD.
     
  11. lukester macrumors 6502

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    Dec 2, 2009
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    RI
    #11
    I'm in the same boat.. I am a photographer and my laptop HD is getting full. I have about 50 gigs of space left. I use LR cc 2018 too. I was thinking about getting another backup drive and partition it one for TM or Acronis backup and another to do my editing on it. I do have a thunderbolt port,, 2014 MacBook pro, or I could get a external SSD?

    What should I do. I probably have more room on my HD if I can figure what I can move off it.
     
  12. tizeye macrumors 6502

    tizeye

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    Jul 17, 2013
    Location:
    Orlando, FL
    #12
    I keep OPERATING SYSTEM and PROGRAMS on the internal SSD and all documents, photos, videos and music on an external HHD. I have not seen any degradation in performance. With photos, doesn't even break a sweat. Lightroom does occasionally take a second to display at full focus, but suspect that is more a memory management issue than file acquisition issue. The extreme test isn't photos, but video rendering. While FCPX, Premiere Pro/After Effects, and Davinci are on the SSD I haven't seen any reason to process and then transfer to the HHD vs originating source files on the HHD. I have tried it both ways as when I travel, it is MBPro only leaving the HHD home. The biggest problem is with Lightroom where have to have mirror catalogs on each computer or it goes berserk whining about unable to find files, etc. That is one advantage of Capture One where I have the option to use a catalog system but also have the option to open as a session within the folder there the files are and easily read at other computers running Capture One.

    The other advantage of those files on an HHD is that 1) can take them to another computer, switching between desktop and laptop. And 2) when upgrading to a new computer, iCloud will load all (or most) of the programs originally installed on the SSD to the new computer's SSD and I don't have to buy huge amounts of iCloud space to accommodate the documents/photos/video/music, some of which are quite large that are on the HHD.
     
  13. Darmok N Jalad macrumors 68000

    Darmok N Jalad

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    #13
    You can use an external SSD over USB 3.1 and any speed issues are largely eliminated.

    As for workflow, in the past, I’ve imported my RAW files to my internal SSD, and when edits are done, I export jpgs to Photos. Each year I archive my RAW files to an external HDD, which keeps from taking up all my internal SSD’s space. I can still edit the old shots at a minor speed hit, but the chances of me going back to do so are pretty rare.
     
  14. lukester macrumors 6502

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    RI
    #14
    I ran a speed test on my SSD. Is around 620 read and write. I tried my G Tech 1tb drive, usb 3.0 and it was about 120MBS
    I have another backup drive, WD 3 TB but I can't write to it and tried to change the permissions and it would't let me.

    I realized that I have 2 iPhoto library folders. the older one is 37 gigs.. wow, I am moving that to my backup HD, Im sure I can find some more stuff that can be moved. May not need another external HD for my laptop for ongoing photo processing.. I may pick the Samsung T5 500 gig SSD for giggles , its cheap.
     
  15. Darmok N Jalad macrumors 68000

    Darmok N Jalad

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    #15
    120MB/s is about the max on a spinning drive. An SSD should hit the limit of 300MB/s on USB 3.0. USB 3.1 will get near the SATA3 limit of 600MB/s. Regardless, the near-zero seek time on SSDs is what really helps.
     
  16. lukester macrumors 6502

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    Dec 2, 2009
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    RI
    #16
    I just looked at my lightroom catalogs,, a whole bunch of stuff.. one folder has 93 gig in it! no wonder my HD is getting full.. I wonder if I should not off load that to external HD then do the edits on the internal hd.
     
  17. anotherscotsman macrumors 68000

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    Aug 2, 2014
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    UK
    #17
    Also depends on RAM available. I store my programs and OS on ssd and some photos for editing (Capture One). I store the majority of raw files on an external FireWire hd. Other than being slightly slower to access initially, I find no real difference in speed of editing. With plenty of RAM available (12GB for me) then mostly things are handled in RAM but an interface like FireWire or Thunderbolt does not place a significant load on the processor unlike USB 2 so no additional delay in i/o activity.
     
  18. Darmok N Jalad macrumors 68000

    Darmok N Jalad

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    Sep 26, 2017
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    #18
    I guess I should also add that you will be limited to USB 3.0 or Thunderbold 2 speeds on your 2014 MBP. Thunderbolt enclosures are really expensive, but I don’t think you really need one. USB 3.0 would suffice, especially if you mainly intend to archive to external drives. If you have iCloud storage, you can also let Photos manage your storage locally, just be sure to have a physical copy of your files stored locally, just in case.
     
  19. dwig macrumors 6502a

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    Jan 4, 2015
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    Key West FL
    #19
    You don't do the edits on a storage device, period. You do them in RAM. The only difference that comes from the storage device type is the speed for loading, the speed for saving, and sometimes the speed of any read/write to a "scratch" disk.

    This latter read/write process is totally independent of where the image file is stored. Most software will either have a user pref to specify where the scratch files are located or they simply use the drive where the application, not the source file, is stored.
     
  20. jdechko macrumors 68040

    Joined:
    Jul 1, 2004
    #20
    I had the same issue, and spent several hours backing up, creating a new library and importing all of the photos to make sure I didn't miss any. Of course, I found out afterwards Lightroom will let you just drag originals over to an external drive from the Library module and it will move the files and update the reference. :oops:

    On a normal import, lightroom will build normal previews which are sufficient placeholders, but I also build smart previews for the current photos (downsampled JPG to 2540px on the long side). Edits are easily done with the master library drive disconnected. Just reconnect the drive when it's time to export.
     

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19 October 31, 2017