How Fast of a Drive Do I Need?

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by btrach144, Jun 15, 2017.

  1. btrach144 macrumors 65816

    btrach144

    Joined:
    Aug 28, 2015
    #1
    My current libraries (a mixture of Aperture and Photos) sit on a 3 TB external HDD that gets about 170 MB/s in read/write. Libraries take up about 500 GB in total.

    My problem is that I feel I'm waiting for the disk to catch up a lot of the time.

    Would a SATA III/ USB3 SSD such as the 850 Pro with roughly 500 MB/s been enough to help reduce this bottle neck?

    What if I looked into a NVMe drive by using Thunderbolt 3 that gets 2,000+ MB/s?

    Would I really notice the difference of a 2,000 MB/s drive vs a 500 MB/s drive when working with my photo libraries?
     
  2. kenoh macrumors demi-god

    kenoh

    Joined:
    Jul 18, 2008
    Location:
    Glasgow, UK
    #3
    In theory yes you would as it is faster but be mindful of the port you are plugging it into. For example, plugging a USB3 drive into a USB 2 port will slow it down to USB2 speeds. Having said that, an SSD is a lot faster. Warning though. When SSDs go, they go unlike spindle drives where they start to hint at issues before completely failing. So backups backups backups.
     
  3. dwig macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Jan 4, 2015
    Location:
    Key West FL
    #4
    Yes, no, and maybe.

    A faster drive will reduce time waiting for files to open and save. They will not make working on actually working on the photos in an editor any faster.

    Also keep in mind, as others have noted, connecting a fast drive (e.g. USB3) into a slow port (e.g. USB2) will only deliver the slower transfer speeds. With USB, connecting both a USB3 and a USB2 drive into a USB3 hub will usually slow the hub to USB2 speeds for both drives. This can also happen when a pair of ports on the computer share a single controller chip.
     
  4. MCAsan macrumors 601

    MCAsan

    Joined:
    Jul 9, 2012
    Location:
    Atlanta
    #5
    Fast drives (7,2000 or 10,000 rpm) paired into RAID 0 (stripping) connected over a fast protocol and port.....USB 3 with UASP, TB 1 or 2, USB-C with TB3 is the best bet to minimize read/write delays. If the budget allows, use a RAID 1 set for Time Machine backups.
     
  5. btrach144 thread starter macrumors 65816

    btrach144

    Joined:
    Aug 28, 2015
    #6
    Thank you for the replies. I guess my question now is at what point do you see dimensioning returns on your investment?

    a HDD RAID 0 might do 300 MB/s and only cost $300
    a SSD Thunderbolt 3 (SATA III) setup might be able to do 550 MB/s but cost $500
    a NVMe SSD Thunderbolt 3 setup might be able to do 2,000 MB/s but could cost $1,000

    Does anyone have experience with comparing any of the above or similar setups to each other?

    Not sure if spending 1k for an external NVMe drive is worth it if a $500 (TB3 SATA III) can offer similar performance (+/- a second or two) for half the price....
     
  6. MCAsan macrumors 601

    MCAsan

    Joined:
    Jul 9, 2012
    Location:
    Atlanta
    #7
    Since I am retired and photography is a hobby, there can not be any financial ROI. All of my photography equipment and Mac are cost.

    For me photography is fun and can not be put into a spreadsheet. Having a fast post processing experience contributes to the fun and avoids some of the frustration.

    Life is analog and subjective. It does not fit into a digital objective spreadsheet. o_O
     
  7. kenoh macrumors demi-god

    kenoh

    Joined:
    Jul 18, 2008
    Location:
    Glasgow, UK
    #8
    I have seen all of these in a business context (I say this just so you know I work in IT and understand it. Not to brag). Dwig nailed it earlier. The I/O rates are only part of the story. Yes upgrade it but IMHO as a single user solution, a pair of striped disks in a NAS connected via a wired gigabit network will be plenty fine for you. It comes down to what your priority is and I think in this use case, the biggest bang for buck is not disk I/O. Personally options 1 or 2 here are as high as you need to go right now for a one person setup.

    I would pay as much attention to a data protection strategy as as disk speeds. There are plenty of bottlenecks elsewhere in the system to render these gains in I/O somewhat moot but MCASan makes some good suggestions.
     
  8. ChrisA macrumors G4

    Joined:
    Jan 5, 2006
    Location:
    Redondo Beach, California
    #9
    To predict results of faster storage you have to figure out what part of the workflow is "slow". It could be that the best thing you could do is buy more RAM.

    Why does RAM make the disk faster? If the entire index catalog can be cashed in RAM then the system will never have to go out and read the disk. Disk speed would be irrelevant. You can make the catalog be smaller by using smaller thumbnail images. Then the only time you need to read the disks to load an image. Loading one image, even a large raw image is quick.

    It might be that the catalog is to big and you can only fit so much RAM in the computer that it will never fit. But if you can reduce the amount of disk reads by caching you might get a 2X speed up if you can reduce the number of disk reads by 50%.

    So #1 trick is tomb out the RAM. 32GB is reasonable. Do that first And of course it make no sense at all to have thumbnails that have more pixels than your monitor. Make the longest dimension no more than 1024 pixels But remember the if you make them no bifferthen 512 the image are FOUR times smaller and you'd expect a 4X speed up when browsing catalogs If you constant using 256 pixel wide images then a factor of EIGHT. That is rather dramatic and still using the same disk.

    If you have already maxed out the RAM and reduced the catalog size then you next option is a faster disk
     
  9. btrach144 thread starter macrumors 65816

    btrach144

    Joined:
    Aug 28, 2015
    #10
    Thank you to everyone for the responses.

    Considering photography is my hobby and not my profession, I've decided the lack of TB3 NVMe solutions and cost of such a solution would be overkill.

    Photos works fine on my 2017 iMac with the library on a 170 MB/s external drive. I would like to increase my external drive size and backup solution so I've decided on the below setup.

    Primary photo drive: LaCie 2big Dock Thunderbolt 3 12 TB in RAID 0. Should provide up to 440 MB/s and this will be the location for my photo library.

    Backup solution: I'll use Time Machine to backup to two LaCie d2 Thunderbolt 3 (6 TB) drives by having Time Machine automatically rotate between the two drives every hour.

    This setup will work better than a RAID 1 as a backup. RAID 1 is meant for high availability. By rotating my backups every hour between two separate drives, I'll be able to have greater tolerance against failed thunderbolt cables and failed power supplies, which a RAID 1 box wouldn't provide.

    My backup solution should be able to backup a total of 3 TB of actual data (MacOS, photos, etc.), which will be more than enough for years to come.
     
  10. ChrisA macrumors G4

    Joined:
    Jan 5, 2006
    Location:
    Redondo Beach, California
    #11
    I agree 100% Two TM drives is a better use of two drives then RAID.

    But you ALSO need to have an off site backup. The number one cause of data loss on not disk drive failure. It is loss of the equipment mostly by theft but also fire, floods, lightening strikes to the power pole and what not. I use Backblaze. For $5 per month they store any amount of data, it's unlimited. $5 per month is close to what I'd pay for another Time machine drive (figure a four year lifetime for a disk) So rally the service is free (kind of)

    I've tried other services like Crashplan but they throttle the upload speed (while claiming not to) So I'll still have my data even after a house fire. Crashplan does have the advantage that they never delete old data. Time machine is a little like this but eventual TM will over write old data as the disk fills up.

    That is the other cause for data loss, saving a corrupted file over top of the good one. TM will help only if you notice the problem soon enough. Crashplan works like TM but with unlimited disk space. Trouble is even after one full month the initial backup was not half complete. Backblaze completed in a few days.

    Not a sales pitch as there are many others but, just saying choosing one requires some effort and testing. But worth it as you NEED it.
     
  11. btrach144 thread starter macrumors 65816

    btrach144

    Joined:
    Aug 28, 2015
    #12
    I work for MSFT so I get Office365 for free, which includes 1 TB of storage. I store my Photos library within my OneDrive folder.

    Does OneDrive have all of the features that CrashPlan has? No but you can't beat free.

    On top of that, I have my photos sync to iCloud with my 2TB of storage so I technically have two offsite backups.

    Are there better options? Sure but at some point though you can't predict every issue such as file corruption.
     

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