Harddrives for Music Production (brands/size/partitioning)

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by nicolasmasset, Apr 5, 2009.

  1. nicolasmasset macrumors regular

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    May 25, 2007
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    Belgium
    #1
    Hi there,

    Just bought myself a 2.8 mac pro with a stock WD Caviar SE 3200AAJS drive and would like some opinions about which hard drives to get and how to partition them.

    From what I've read on digilloyds site, I've concluded that it would be best to get a rather large harddrive with a small partition as bootdrive. The reasoning behind this is that data on drives gets read faster when that data is on the outside of the drive. So an 80gb partition on a 640gb drive would be faster than an 80gb partition on a 120gb drive, because with option 1, the partition physically remains small in regards to the whole, and therefore physically remains on the outside of the drive where seek speed is fast.

    So my questions are about the technical details really:
    1) Is there a measured percentage as to where drives begin to lose their fast outer rim performance? If that's say 10%, then I could calculate: I need 80gb boot partition, so the drive must be 800gb. Also, to calculate how tiny my bootpartition should be, I need to know how many gigs "breathing space" the boot partition needs. Anyone?

    2) What's your drives config and partitioning? I myself was thinking:
    - boot drive (how big?)
    - drive with 2 partitions, one 10gb scratch partition for the current project and one projects partition for things I'm not working on.
    - drive for reading samples from for drums etc.
    - drive for time machining the projects drive, the samples I can always reinstall from cd, so won't need space for that..

    3) What brand should I get? I was thinking Western Digital caviar black for the first three drives, and a more energy efficient caviar blue/green as timemachine drive. Do I need server drives like the R3 for any of this?

    4) Where can my stock 320 drive fit in? Is it good enough for one of these jobs or is it just too old? I'm willing to replace it but I don't want to be splitting hairs. The potential replacement DOES have to add something in real world feel.

    Kind regards,

    Nicolas

    EDIT: Please read post 13 for an updated look on the situation.
     
  2. clownjuggles macrumors member

    Joined:
    Mar 11, 2009
    #2
    For starters,

    always always use one drive with one partition on it for your applications as a boot drive.
    Another drive as scratch one for your samples and one for your projects and an fourth or external for backup as well as Burnable media.

    Lloyd's site is great for photography and photoshop but you are better served by visiting a site like Gearslutz.com or bigbluelounge.com

    check this out as well
    Gearslutz thread on this subject

    Best you can do is run your apps off an SSD as a boot drive.

    I would avoid maxtor and WD.

    Seagate is used by glyph, and I would look at server grade drives they may be smaller than the 800 gig versions but they are rock solid and I would suggest backing up your data to DVD or blu rays as a way to archive your work. YOu don't want to keep things on the hard drives other than current projects and your applications and samples.
     
  3. Tesselator macrumors 601

    Tesselator

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    #3
    Why?


    Why?
     
  4. nicolasmasset thread starter macrumors regular

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    #4
    Thanks clownjuggles,

    Are you saying that partitioning the boot drive with a small drive so it sticks to the outside of the drive is a bad thing? How come?

    I have a glyph drive and am amazed at how solid that thing is, although I have two gripes with it: it takes a pretty while to "wake back up" when it hasn't been doing much. Also, it makes a TON of noise and that's the reason why I want to retire it to backup drive now. But I'm assuming it's because of the fans rather than the drive itself..

    PS: an ssd drive is out of the question, way too expensive!

    Nicolas
     
  5. clownjuggles macrumors member

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    Mar 11, 2009
    #5
    You never ever want to record to your application drive as your system will be searching constantly for sample data or application data. This way also you don't have to worry if your operating system needs reinstallation and you can do maintenance tasks to your other drives while still working. You also don't have a heart attack if the boot drive fails as you only have to replace one drive versus looking for your data. Redundancy is more important in audio recording as we have a longer time frame to worry bout loosing data. You can restore a photo file a lot easier with photoshop if you need to but you can't recreate a once in a lifetime performance. If you are concerned about sound. I would suggest an ISOBOX.
    [​IMG]

    I would suggest savvio drives like the ST9146852SS they offer 15K spindle speeds with 6 gb transfer rates with SAS and 147 gig is quite good for a boot drive and running applications.
     
  6. jons macrumors 6502

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    Apr 24, 2008
    #6
    WD 6400AAKS and the newer black edition are crazy fast.

    Seagate 1.5TB are great drives also.
     
  7. clownjuggles macrumors member

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    Mar 11, 2009
    #7
    The reason I dont' like the idea of having your boot drive be a small partition is that if a drive needs to be defragged or optimized. Having a drive that is 70% or more free just runs faster and things stay less clogged up. Easier to do write/move/defrag etc. Call sweetwater, full compass, or check out these links from electronic musician.
    Building a recording studio: Hard Drives
    Hard Drives better safe than sorry
    WHY HARD DRIVES FAIL AND WHAT TO DO ABOUT IT

    Musical PCs
    Setting up a Mac Based Recordin Studio
    Conquering digital audio workstations
     
  8. Tesselator macrumors 601

    Tesselator

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    #8
    K, I see your logic on the partition thing. Thanks for answering that.

    Why don't you like WD?

    Maxtor BTW has now been absorbed into Seagate. FYI.
     
  9. topgun072003 macrumors 6502

    topgun072003

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    #9
    :eek:

    (continues to drool) Nice setup! Need an engineer?
     
  10. nicolasmasset thread starter macrumors regular

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    #10
    So lets say my apps are 70gb's in total, how big should my drive and/or partition be? Is my 320gb stock drive good enough or should I get a bigger one for more spare room? I also do a bit of webdesign. I've always heard that you should have a dedicated audio computer, so should I make a different partition for my webdesign with a fresh install of leopard or is that going too far?
     
  11. clownjuggles macrumors member

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    Mar 11, 2009
    #11
    I would say if you strictly run your programs and applications such as OS X, LOGIC Studio 8, Finale or sibelius as well as other programs you would be fine if you chose a #ST9300603SS Seagate® Savvio® 10K.3 6-Gb/s 300-GB Hard Drive using SAS connections it's a 3.5" drive. That would give you about 38% of the drive full or 62% free. I think you would be fine if you maintain a disciplined habit of saving your itunes, or websites to other drives than your main drive you will be fine. If you wanted to get really picky you can always use your computer to do your work and then use a RADAR V S-Nyquist to record as your music computer if you want to get a dedicated computer for recording.
    [​IMG]


    I would say you would be able to use your glyph drives if you went with a ISOBOX like this and it would eliminate your complaints about glyph units. I honestly have never had a problem with using my computer for web design and recording as long as I always defragged and made sure permissions were set right. Record your work files to separate drives and you should be ok.
    [​IMG]
     
  12. nicolasmasset thread starter macrumors regular

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    #12
    Thanks clownjuggles, but the solutions you're giving me are a bit out of my pricerange, perhaps I should have specified that in the first post? I'm really only talking about internal 7200 drives really, and how to get the best performance and partitioning with those.
     
  13. nicolasmasset thread starter macrumors regular

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    #13
    Ok, so boot drive aside, this is where I think I'm heading:

    1) boot drive with strictly osx and apps (READ)
    2) samples drive (READ)
    3) 10gb scratch partition for working on the current project (READ/WRITE)
    4) time machine drive to backup all projects (ENERGY EFFICIENT WRITE)

    The problem is that I'm also going to want to store these things:
    - projects I'm not working on (NEUTRAL)
    - "home" folder with documents, itunes, movies etc (READ/WRITE) (I read somewhere that you could move your mac "home" folder entirely to another drive or partition)

    Regarding the volume of the drives, currently I only have 128gb worth of samples and 40gb worth of projects, with samples perhaps becoming 250gb someday and projects 200gb.. So with all that in mind, the setup becomes this:

    1) boot drive with strictly osx and apps (READ)
    2) samples drive (READ)
    3) 10gb scratch partition for working on the current project (READ/WRITE) + home partition where I'll also store the non current projects in the standard music folder.
    4) time machine drive to backup all projects (ENERGY EFFICIENT WRITE)

    I think this is the most efficient setup as I only need to time machine 1 drive. So my new questions are:

    - Will the 10gb partition suffer because of the daily, scattered activity the other partition on the same drive is getting? (The plan is to make the 10gb partition on the outer rim of the drive and reformat it every other project)
    - How big should the drives be? How much breathing space should I provide? Perhaps a 640gb drive would be overkill for 128gb samples? Is a smaller 320gb drive going to be faster? I'd rather save money now and buy ssd drives in the future than have hundreds of gigs of unused space, unless it helps performance significantly!
    - Will the seperation of the home drive really be that more beneficial? Otherwise it would be the easiest to just buy one big boot drive for my apps AND documents (perhaps with 2 partitions) and just leave the samples and projects on seperate drives.

    And the biggest question of them all: which brand?? :/

    Any advice is truly appreciated!
     
  14. clownjuggles macrumors member

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    Mar 11, 2009
    #14


    Nicolas,

    Your question was asked on the Sound on Sound forum.
    Mac Pro Hard Drive Partitioning

    Rethinking Partitioning
     
  15. nicolasmasset thread starter macrumors regular

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    May 25, 2007
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    Belgium
    #15
    Thanks! That was a divided read. I wonder what they meant by saying keep the daw files on a seperate drive. Did they mean the project files or the app itself? I've never thought about installing logic and ableton on a seperate drive altogether ...
     
  16. DoFoT9 macrumors P6

    DoFoT9

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    #16
    nicholas,

    just chiming in to subscribe to this thread. im currently at uni. i will attempt to voice my opinion/recommendations later tonight haha!!!!

    talk to you then!
     
  17. nicolasmasset thread starter macrumors regular

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    #17
    Much obliged! I await your thoughts! :)
     
  18. Tesselator macrumors 601

    Tesselator

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    Jan 9, 2008
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    Japan
    #18
    1. It will if the activity is happening at the same time that the 10GB scratch needs to be accessed. Otherwise no.

    2. I would get the biggest you can afford. And my reasoning is that since it's (about) the outer 10% to 15% of any drive that is the fastest a 1TB drive will provide 100GB ~ 150GB speedy partition. A 500GB drive will provide about a 50GB ~ 75GB speedy partition and so on. Also you'll have room if you need it. That's just me though, there may be other ideas/opinions more pertinent. I often record multi-channel sound but that's a minor gig for me so I don't pay as much attention as I should. :)

    3. That I dunno I haven't looked at the specs of smaller drives in a long time. I guess it's easy to find out tho. I would think just based on drive geometry, that smaller drives are inherently slower.

    4. "Will it really..." As in someone suggested that? I didn't read that. You want to move the user Home folder to another partition or another drive? I guess moving it to another drive could improve performance if there's a lot of stuff in the user's home folder. Having all on one drive/partition could cause parts of your OS to be moved farther in to the slower areas of your drive (fragmentation) and slow things up a little. I dunno if the difference obtained by moving it would be noticeable tho. It might make things easier (more consolidated) to back-up however. Putting Home on a different partition of the same disk would probably be the same or slower tho - but again might be easier to back-up.

    5. I don't know a lot abut makers but the one thing I do know is not to listen to people that say Brand X ROCKS! or Brand Y SUCKS! There's too much difference from line to line, model to model and even from batch (lot) to batch for ANY of that to be true and my experiences have borne that out as well. Right now there's a lot of talk as a result of great benchmarks, about the WD Black and the Samsung Enterprise (UJ) class drives. Both are about $120 in 1TB size. There's also the VRaptor 10K RPM drives that are known to be great but I think they're like $250 for 350GB or something. I used them some years back for recording video but these days they're too small for me so I've lost interest and forgotten their specs. Actually I still have one on my VideoToaster now that i think of it. Hmm. Oh well, whatever.. :)

    Hope that helps.


    .
     
  19. byrgenar macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jan 30, 2009
    #19
    Hi nicholas.


    What kind of projects are you going to be doing?

    As a general way of working I can explain some of why I do things my way. It may help but feel free to disregard and flame anything that is not of use to you.

    OS drive. (Regular backups to a fixed disk image via Superduper. Haven't tried time machine yet but it looks good). This is on the stock (apple) 320 WD. All Itunes and other stuff that would normally clutter things up are on a Partition on another drive. Re transfer rates and partitioning on the outer edge. I would think that the jump to a vertex or X25 would dwarf the benefits if you are that concerned about system response times.
    Partition size. I make do with about 30-60GB and rarely use more that 25 with everthing installed. A lean OSX install should be around 8GB. Most apps have the option of storing content on other drives (bar PTLE8 it seems).

    Samples Drive. If you not going to expand you library that much, go for a smaller drive. Speed differences between most new drives and the resulting number of streams are probably going to be less of a factor than you may think. This can be checked against your requirements. What kind of projects are you going to be doing? What DAW and Plugins are you going to be using? A lot of sample players work from ram 1st then go for the HD.
    We can figure out what your needs are from there.

    I tend to have at least 2OS's. 1 main and 1 for recovery work. The Recovery OS (obviously) has to be on another drive, but needn't be fast. So I have 2 1TB hitachi drives. The first contains a 30GB 2nd OS partition, a couple of other partitions for things like itunes and other data and a large partition for archiving older projects. The partitions are just for organizational and backup purposes. you dont gain (or need anything) in terms of performance.
    The second drive I use for other bits and pieces but I would suggest you split a scratch disk from the top and use the rest for time machine.
    The scratch partition won't get a perfomance hit unless the other partition is in use at the time. But I would make it larger than 10GB.

    I suppose to save money I would buy an 80 (cant seem to get much less these days) for the OS, use the 320 for samples. Something else (eg 500GB)
    for Itunes (all home folder stuff really) archive and 2nd OS. And a 1TB for for current projects (scratch) and Time Machine.

    Regards
     
  20. DoFoT9 macrumors P6

    DoFoT9

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    Singapore
    #20
    ok hey nicolas!! finally got some spare time (not really, i made some)

    so anyway, ill try to be as knowledgeable as i can, and provide as best of a recommendation as i can!

    so each of these numbers are a dedicated drive?? or are some just partitions?

    1) that is a good idea, boot times will be very fast, and by having a dedicated drive there will be lots of room for VRAM and those sorts of nerdy things. so this only needs to be small but pretty fast, maybe a 10k 320GB HD??
    2) good good, how big do you need? i am thinking maybe 500GB?? is that enough for a future proof size?
    3) this will need to be lightning fast i assume.. will 10GB be enough for a good couple of years?? i would expand it 10 fold personally..
    4) yup yup i like.

    right so the projects your not working on are going to be quite large i take it.. eventually as you get more projects they will become ginormous!

    yes i am pretty certain its true that you can move your whole entire user folder to another drive, but im not certain why you want to... i would just move your iTunes library to another HD.. as documents and other things arent THAT big..

    ok not bad..

    no not at all, the other partition only effects itself, it wont be touching data from the 10gb 'scratch' partition.

    this is the hard part, there are a LOT of different opinions based around these...i prefer 'future proofing' things... sometimes that may cost a bit more, but it saves you having to change everything around in the near future..

    1. Boot Drive - needs to be pretty fast, 10K 320GB HD??
    2. Samples Drive - you only currently have 128GB of samples, so i think a 500GB HD would do, even if you double the size of your samples it will still be fairly quick with load times.
    3. Scratch Partition - this is a tricky one, if you are also going to have another partition for home/music + non current projects then im not sure its wise, the scratch disc needs to be pretty fast doesnt it>?>? could the scratch possibly be used on the "Boot Drive?" if you think that it will perform fast enough on the inside of the drive then go for it. i would recommend a 1TB, again mainly for future proofing..
    4. Time Machine backups - great idea, time machine works like a god sometimes!! this will have a backup of the "boot drive" i take it.. also a recommendation, is to partition it into 2 chunks....
    1) "backup boot drive" - incase the boot drive fails, you can still boot from this partition and perform anything you want
    2) "time machine" - standard time machine backups.

    1TB should cover this, because of the exponential growth of Time Machine, maybe a 1.5TB HD is in order...


    no not really, i dont think you will notice that much of a difference.. how big are your iTunes libraries/documents??

    western digital seems fairly reliable from my experience, seagate is also good.. i wouldnt really touch anything else apart from hitachi (rated the highest, but too expensive). in the end go with what you want, read some reviews.. each drive has its ups and downs... so yea...

    goodluck :p

    DoFoT9
     
  21. clownjuggles macrumors member

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    Mar 11, 2009
    #21
    I would say project drives. Here are a few more thoughts from guys who are running profitable studios on the subject.


    Best Hard Drive Configuration for Samples + Audio?

    internal Hard drives for Mac Pro

    Does Pro Tools Support SAS 15,00 RPM Hard Drives?

    Is there any benefit to 15000 rpm hard drives for DAWs?
     
  22. nicolasmasset thread starter macrumors regular

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    May 25, 2007
    Location:
    Belgium
    #22
    Hi guys,

    Thank you VERY much for all your insightfull replies! I think you have just helped me make up my mind. But first, to answer byrgenar's question about what I use:
    - Logic, ableton, waves & soundtoys bundle, NI komplete (battery, akoustik piano) and maschine. Maybe I'll buy omnisphere in the future. I'm also waiting on acusticaudio's nebula plugin, which uses pretty heavy duty convolution technology for emulating hardware efx. One reverb preset for instance can take up a couple gigs of ram. I used to solely work with those synth plugs, but I've recently bought a hardware synth so I'm probably not going to touch the NI plugs for a while, unless it's for akoustik sounds. So for now, it's pretty much audio with sample based maschine.

    Regarding ram usage, I think all the sample based stuff I currently have (NI) all gets loaded into ram (of which I plan to buy 6-10gb)
    Byrgenar, could you share some tips as to how to install a "lean OS" of 8gb? That seams really small!!!


    So after reading all your informative posts, the plan has reformed itself to this:
    1) Boot drive
    I don't really want to spend the money on raptor drives now that ssd's are maybe only a year away from becoming affordable, so I think I'm going to stick with the stock 320gb as boot disk, leave the home folder as is, and as DoFoT9 said, just move the itunes libraries to another drive. I'm sure you're right in that that small amount of documents or images I have isn't going to make or break the performance. Should I move iPhoto library too?
    Partition question alert!: I should probably just leave it as one partition, right?

    2) Samples drive with seperate itunes, movies and general data storage partition
    I think loading in the samples could benefit from a fast access time, so keeping Tesselator's comments about 10-15% fastest partition and my current total of 130gb's of samples in mind, I think I'll go for a 1TB drive (13% samples). I though about a 640 drive because of the 320 platter technology, but that would give me only 100gbs within the 15% region.
    Partition question alert!: So my 130gb samples are in the 15% fastzone, but how much breathing room should I give them? Say I get more samples in the future, with 300gb in total, how much should that partition be? A straight 300? Or a bit more room, say 400? That'll still leave me with a whopping 600gb for itunes and movies etc.
    Sometimes though, I do run iTunes alongside logic, but that's to listen to a song I like to compare the sound. But then it's more of a "play itunes, pauze logic .... pauze itunes, play logic" type of thing, so I guess that's alright?

    3) Project drive with scratch partition, project storage
    DoFoT9, the scratch partition would really only be for the project I'm currently working on, and I've yet to make a song that's more than a few gigs big, so I think 10gb will suffice. This drive however will need to be fast, as thats the one logic or ableton will constantly be writing to when recording audio and saving or undoing stuff while I'm working on the song. So keeping Tesselators 10% and my mesely 40gbs of projects in mind, going from 10% to 100% would be 10gb fast scratch x 10 = 100gb drive would initially suffice. But for futureproofing I'll probably want to go bigger for more project storage, and so with the better 320-640 platter technology in mind and Tomshardware's WD black's victory in acces times, I have two choices: A 320gb WD RE3 WD3202ABYS 320GB S-ATA II 16Mb Raid Edition (which "only" has 16mb cache, or a 640gb WD Black which would cost exactly the same (they don't make the 320's anymore!)

    4) Time machine
    As DoFoT9 pointed out, Timemachine is exponential, which I totally forgot! So perhaps I should go for the 1.5TB seagate instead of the 1TB efficent caviar green? On the other hand, the most important thing for me are my projects and documents. I can always install rip my cd's and movies again. So perhaps the 1TB will suffice. I'd really like the Caviar green to compromise for the power hungry Caviar blacks in power consumption..
    Partition question alert!: If I make a backup boot drive partition like DoFoT9 suggest, will that partition automatically have to be 320gb like the boot partition. Or can you it be just the net size of the os and apps?

    What do you guys think? Sounds solid? Good choice to go WD Black for performance and an easy going green for time machine? I'm a bit worried about having 2 of them, as people say they're noisy.
     
  23. byrgenar macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jan 30, 2009
    #23
    Hi again. Yes you will need a boat load of ram for that.

    First the easy ones.

    When installing osx just remove all the other languages and other stuff you dont want on your music partition. That will get you to around 8.5 I think. 1 partition is fine.
    RE drive noise. I'm guessing here but they are probably below 26dba. The PSU is probably around 30dba. I think you will hear that and the fans first. I don't think I've heard my drives at all (08 2.8 quad with WD320 and 2 SAMSUNG HD103UJ's, not hitachi as mentioned above)
    Re: Access times. I'll run the numbers when I get a chance but I'm not sure that 15% (total AT variation of around 1.8ms)is worth busting a nut for. Size the partition for convenience and buy a SSD later if it is a problem.

    Regards
     
  24. clownjuggles macrumors member

    Joined:
    Mar 11, 2009
    #24
    Ok first things first. Lean install. You don't install any extra printer drivers, languages, etc.

    Optionally, You can run programs like Xslimmer to remove code for PowerPC versions of software that run under rosetta so you keep Intel based code.
    That is the only way I know to keep your OS under 10 gig in size is to remove the rosetta capability.


    By all means move iphoto and itunes libraries. Iphoto makes copies of all images and you can't just go in and delete things.


    Here is a user guide to give an idea how to set up recording computers

    Optimizing Your System, Improving Performance and Managing Latency
     
  25. nicolasmasset thread starter macrumors regular

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    May 25, 2007
    Location:
    Belgium
    #25
    Yeah, I bought an xslimmer license once, but my mac sortof started to act wierd after that. Don't remember what exactly anymore, but still, kinda stayed away from that since!

    Anyways, I think I'm going to get the drives tomorrow! But comments are still welcome! I'm not going to the store for another 10 hours :)
     

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