Keeping a thunderbolt external hdd connected to a Thunderbolt Display?

Discussion in 'Mac Accessories' started by shorn, Jul 26, 2013.

  1. shorn macrumors regular

    Jun 29, 2010
    Hi all,

    I have a MacBook Air 128gb connected to my Thunderbolt Display.

    I have 50gb of photos that I want to start organising in Aperture. I do not want to store these on the Airs internal drive, so I'm looking at keeping the library on the Air, and the masters on an external hdd.

    I'm considering the LaCie rugged 256gb ssd drive, and plan to keep this permanently connected to the Thunderbolt display.

    What will happen when I disconnect the air from the display? Will I need to unmount the drive each time?

    Also, I have little doubt that this drive will be fast enough, but would a higher capacity standard thunderbolt drive be suitable?
  2. EricT43 macrumors regular

    Oct 5, 2011
    I can answer your first question. When you have an external drive connected to the TB Display, you have to unmount it before you disconnect your MacBook. Otherwise you will get an error message saying that the drive was not properly disconnected, and you could have data loss if there was a write taking place at the time.
  3. thedeske macrumors 6502a

    Feb 17, 2013
    Sounds like 256 is enough for you right now. When SSD gets cheaper, upgrade.

    The monitor is a hub. Same as plugging direct into the laptop.
  4. shorn thread starter macrumors regular

    Jun 29, 2010
    Thanks for that. Yea, thought that was the case. Suppose unmounting wouldn't be too bad.
    The 256gb one is an ssd. I was asking if a standard (non ssd) thunderbolt drive would be good enough for my intended usage? (Prob didnt explain too well!)
  5. jwjsr macrumors 6502


    Mar 15, 2012
    Fairhope, Alabama
    I guess your question is would thunderbolt ssd speed up ur organizing in aperture vs aperture with thunderbolt w/hdd. I don't know the answer but I have lacie little big disk 1 tb/hdd that I am glad I bought as I had to do 2 time machine restores and they took about an hour each to restore about 400GB.
  6. shorn thread starter macrumors regular

    Jun 29, 2010
    I'm sure that a Thunderbolt/HDD would be fine, but the Thunderbolt/SSD is obviously going to be better. Just wondering how much!

    LaCie 1TB Rugged Thunderbolt/USB 3.0 Hard Drive is only £169.99

    where as...

    LaCie 256GB SSD Rugged Thunderbolt/USB 3.0 Solid-State Drive is £279.99

    How much better could it be when dealing with an Aperture library?
  7. g4cube macrumors 6502a

    Apr 22, 2003
    From what you describe, the HDD would probably be sufficient.

    You'd only be able to tel the difference if you were doing many searches of the media library, or copying/duplicating files from/to the SSD version. Or running benchmarks :D

    Since you are not booting from the SSD version, the differences in perfromance won't be noticeable, so if $$$ are a concern, get the HDD version. You'll get a lot more space, too, for less money.

    Now, if you want to perform backups to the external drive or partition and try booting from it, then go for the SSD version.
  8. flynz4, Jul 27, 2013
    Last edited: Jul 27, 2013

    flynz4 macrumors 68040

    Aug 9, 2009
    Portland, OR
    If you are like most people... you WILL forget to unmount from time to time. Humans are horribly flawed. It is way to easy to forget to eject a drive... and if you do it enough times, you will end up with data corruption.

    I recently forgot to eject a drive... and ultimately had to reformat it. Luckily it was just copies of data.

    Are you shooting RAW or JPEG? If those 50GB of photos are RAW, they could be stored using "referenced originals" on an external... and your library, along with thumbnails and previews could stay on your internal SSD and not take too much space. However, if you have 50GB of JPEG originals... you will probably have close to that amount on your SSD even if you were to use referenced originals.



    I find that running my Aperture library on an SSD makes a HUGE difference. Aperture is an app where you are constantly searching/scrolling/organizing/indexing etc huge amounts of data... with tons of tiny random accesses. This is exactly the type of operation (small reads) that benefits from an SSD the most. Actually accessing your originals is far less important than the actual database manipulation (including accessing the thumbnails and previews).

    Other applications that stream (ex: music and movies) are almost completely unaffected by SSD vs HDD performance disparities.

    I use an iMac with a 768GB SSD. I did this specifically to hold my A3 library. At the time... there were no 256GB and 512GB options... just the 128GB FD. If I was buying today, I could live with a 512GB using referenced originals. However... I'd probably still buy the 768.

  9. g4cube macrumors 6502a

    Apr 22, 2003
    If you have SSD internal to your computer, you'll want SSD based exgternal peripherals so they can keep up with all file operations between computer and outside.

    Won't make a bit of difference for streaming, though as OP mentions.

    If your internal drive is HDD, then that will be the bottleneck for your system, unless you boot from a faster external device.
  10. shorn thread starter macrumors regular

    Jun 29, 2010
    Thanks for the replies. At the moment, all my original photos (a mixture of jpegs and RAW) and just stored in folders on an external drive. This takes up 57GB of space. My understanding of a referencing originals was that these would be stored on the external (taking up 57GB) and that I would then have my library with previews on the internal ssd (I only have 128gb).
    So are you saying that this library will still end up quite sizeable, due to the fact that a lot of my originals are Jpegs?

    If that is the case, then it might be worth me having the entire library on the external and for that I would probably have to go for the ssd external.

    Ejecting the drive is a worry. Guess I coudl always get an app like undock (Link and link up an alfred shortcut to simplify things.
    That bing said, I don't tend to undock that often, I just like having the option to!
  11. flynz4 macrumors 68040

    Aug 9, 2009
    Portland, OR
    If you go referenced... then the 57GB if originals would remain on the external drive. Aperture will create up to 2 copies of your pictures:

    1. Thumbnails: These are tiny (1024X1024 fixed) JPEGs. They might average about 300 KB each... and probably can just be ignored. On my MBA (the only machine I have with me right now)... 2440 RAW pictures are only generating about 700 MB of thumbnails. For all practical purposes, just ignore them... they are small and will not affect your 128GB capacity significantly.
    2. Previews: These are completely user programmable (including no previews if you want). You might choose to use the default of 1/2 resolution of the originals... and a mid-quality JPEG. This will let you use your Aperture library even if your originals are disconnected... and it will be quite a bit smaller than the 57GB of data that you have. If you need more space... you can choose to regenerate your previews into a smaller size, or lower JPEG quality, saving space.

    Aperture gives you lots of options on how to store your data. If at some point, you decide to have an iMac or such at home... you can move your library there and let it grow as large as you want. You can then easily transfer aperture projects between your home computer and your MBA at will. This is especially useful if you travel a lot and need to import and start working on photos while you are in the field.

  12. shorn thread starter macrumors regular

    Jun 29, 2010
    Thanks for that. I'm thinking that it might just be worth going for the HDD/thunderbolt. As I will be having previews on the machine, I think it will be plenty fast enough.

    Thanks for the Aperture tips. I've taken a dig around the settings, and I can see what you mean regarding setting the preview sizes.

    Looking forward to getting the library all up together! :)

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