Scratch Disk & Backup Set Up

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by brownie1204, Jan 28, 2008.

  1. brownie1204 macrumors newbie

    Jan 28, 2008
    Hi there
    First, please forgive me for my lack of knowledge on this subject!! I am a digital photographer would needs to be better at backing up my files and I am tried of going through DVDs!

    So, I went to a Mac store yesterday seeking help. I bought a LaCie Xtreme Hard Disk - 1 Terabyte (800 firewire connection). The Mac guy told me to partition it (partition 1 = backup 1; partition 2 = backup copy of 1, partition 3 = scratch disk) and set it up as a RAID to mirror so it does it automatically. I am wondering if this was the right purchase and two if I understand the guy correctly.

    In my mind, I am afraid of the LaCie crashing and losing ALL my backup copies. The guy made it sound like if the LaCie is partitioned, if one partition crashes the other ones should be fine. Would I have been better off buying two 500 Gig external drives and another smaller one for my scratch disk?

    I am hoping someone out there can tell me what to do. Here are my goals:

    1) To have two copies of all my images and have the copies to happen automatically
    2) To have a separate scratch disk so my Photoshop will run faster

    Last question, what size and brand external hard drives would you recommend so I decide to return my LaCie?

    Thank you in advance for your help!!
  2. amik macrumors regular

    Dec 11, 2007
    I disagree with the sales person.

    To achieve your goals, use time machine to periodically backup your files to the external drive. Mirroring your internal drives will not help if your files are corrupted by a software problem, virus, or if you accidentally delete something.

    If you need a scratch disk, I'd look at an internal drive or an eSATA external.

    Edit: Forgot to make a drive recommendation. How about building your own external drive? Just need a case with the appropriate connections and then pick up some decent SATA drives. If you want pre-built, I've had good luck with my OWC Mercury Elite.
  3. brownie1204 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jan 28, 2008
    Thanks for the quick answer. I didn't feel right about my purchase so I am glad I asked!

    So I am add another internal hard drive to my MacBook Pro? Can I do that easily or should I have Mac do it for me?

    I don't know much about Time Capsule so I will do some research.

    Thanks! :)
  4. amik macrumors regular

    Dec 11, 2007
    With a wired external, you want to use Time Machine, not Time Capsule.

    You can't add an additional internal hard drive to a macbook pro, I thought you had a Mac Pro since you are in the Mac Pro forum.
  5. Consultant macrumors G5


    Jun 27, 2007
    2 drives are better, but typically you want the drives to be of a different batch, so if there is a defect of the batch, you are covered if you have drives from more than 1 batch.

    But if you only have 1 external drive, then it's an ok solution.

    You cannot install another drive in MBP, unless you remove the DVD drive. A company makes a mod for it.

    Lacie is fine. If you care about speed, you need drive(s) with firewire 800 (or eSATA if you know what you are doing).

    You still should burn some dvds after completion of each project.
  6. jconly macrumors member

    Jul 12, 2007
    New York, NY
    If you ask me, they really need to properly train their salespeople.
    What you were told to do could not have been more wrong.

    From a photographer's standpoint, first let me make a suggestion to you.
    I would suggest you go and pick up this book.
    Written by a photographer, it is an EXCELLENT read covering all aspects of digital asset managment, related specifically to photographers. Not only does it cover cataloging software, metadata, etc (the logistical side of things), but it also covers the physical (hardware) side of proper asset managment.
    Seriously, check it out. It will really help future proof your image archive.

    But anyway....

    First: RAID.
    For backing up your images, RAID is a very poor choice. The only thing it prevents against is physical drive failure. It provides no protection against things such as fire, theft, data corruption, etc. If you corrupt a file, it INSTANTLY mirrors it to the other drive. Then, both files are corrupted.
    You are much better off using two separate drives, and manually backing up the data from one drive to the other. (By manually, I don't necessarily mean dragging and dropping files. You can always schedule backups with programs like SyncronizeXPro, or Chronosync). RAID is great in ADDITION to this manual, controllable backup method, when it's used for files you are currently working on, but it only protects from drive failure. Even a RAID needs to be backed up to your image archive.

    Now this brings me to my second point: Partitioning / Multiple drives.
    There are a few issues with partitioning a single drive in your situation. First of all, backing up from one partition to another is not creating a BACKUP at all. You're just duplicating files on the SAME PHYSICAL DRIVE. What happens if this drive fails? You lose everything. Instead, you want to have two SEPERATE hard drives. This way, if something happens to one, you have a second physical unit. In addition, partitioning also has another downside, performance loss.

    Scratch Drive:
    Every hard drive only has one path data can flow through. One bottleneck. If you use a partitioned drive, especially with one partition for scratch, you will be limiting your performance by filling up that bottleneck with two simultaneous requests for data. (Of course, this is not an issue if only one partition is accessed at a time, but this would not be the case if you are working on an image off of one partition, and using another for scratch.) This becomes even more of an issue when used for scratch, as scratch disks need SPEED. Photoshop uses your scratch disk as additional RAM (just in a different form). The faster it can move data to and from this drive, the much better off you are. Again, you are going to want to have a seperate drive. Ideally, two drives in Raid 0 (Striped data). Since the data on your scratch disks is not being permanently stored there, there are no real data security issues in this situation. In fact, since Raid 0 will speed things up to almost twice as fast, it's a very desirable thing to do.

    So anyway...what do I suggest you do?
    Well, of course it depends on your budget.

    Scratch: Ideally, I would advise you to get two internal drives, and use software Raid 0 for your scratch disk. However, if you can't do that, at the very least get yourself an internal (or eSATA) Raptor drive. If the Raptors are too expensive, go with a 7200.11 Seagate Barracuda (although this choice is debatable, but from what I have read, it is the fastest 7200RPM drive out there). Either way, do what you can to use the SATA interface. The speed advantages over FW800 are very important for scratch usage. To sum it up, the FASTER the better.

    Backup: If you don't mind spending a little extra money for SATA connection, I would go that route. It will give you better performance, but, I suppose it isn't really necessary for just backing up your images (as long as you're more patient than I am). Just make sure you stick with two seperate drives, and check out the software I mentioned above. Now, if I were in your shoes (which I was a few years back), I would make my backup plan an easily expandable and future proof one. (Really, check out that book) I would build myself a multiple hard drive enclosure, that can use swappable drive trays. That way, you can easily add new drives to expand down the road. Check out I'm currently running one of their 2-Bay burly SATA enclosures (but you can build one for FW800 as well). I would keep one drive plugged in and mounted, with the other one unplugged. Then whenever time comes to backup, just slide in the other drive.

    EDIT: Just read the other posts that were added while I was typing this. Since you have a MBP, I would DEF go the eSATA route. The eSATA ExpressCards are relatively cheap (about $50). I'd get yourself a 3 bay port multiplier enclosure (the port multiplier just means you can use more than one drive over one cable, since the card only has two cable slots). I don't know what camera you are shooting with, but trust me, if you ever get into the higher MP cameras, and get into multilayer files in Photoshop, you are really going to appreciate the eSata connection. Again, check out
  7. brownie1204 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jan 28, 2008
    Wow! Thanks for taking the time to write all that! I feel much more informed now and I will definitely check out that book!

    I am going to return my LaCie to Mac and look into two separate 500 Gig drives and a separate scratch disk. I'd like to have an external one since I use both a MacBook Pro and an iMac. This way I can move the external scratch disk to which computer I am working on at the time.

    Edit: I shoot a 5D and create lots of multi layer CS3 files.
  8. jconly macrumors member

    Jul 12, 2007
    New York, NY
    Hey not a problem.
    Since you are looking to incorporate this system into an iMac, it sounds like eSATA is no longer an option (as far as I know). I still suggest building yourself the same type of enclosures, but with FW800 instead.
  9. amik macrumors regular

    Dec 11, 2007
    I'd look for a case that supports both eSATA and FW800, like the owc mercury elite.
  10. andy.barron macrumors 6502

    Nov 30, 2006
    Bedford, England
    My twopeneth worth'?
    I would recommend keeping your 1tb 800 fw drive & getting a USB 1tb drive to act as the backup. OK, USB is slow in comparison, but if you run an automated script overnight (SuperDuper etc.) then who cares how long it takes?
    Use all spare cash on the scratch disk (as jconly suggests, a raid level 0 array will give to best performance) to give best read/write performance, but if you want this, buy a new processor/mac as you ain't gonna outstrip that with any array.
  11. brownie1204 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jan 28, 2008
    Thanks again! I love this forum. Great response and great advice!!
  12. jconly macrumors member

    Jul 12, 2007
    New York, NY
    Correct me if I'm wrong, but from what I've read, whenever you mix a FW bridge with a eSATA, the eSATA speeds drop to that of the FW
  13. amik macrumors regular

    Dec 11, 2007
    Ah, my bad. That's what I get for recommending a product I don't own. OWC's site lists maximum transfer speeds around 80mb/s which supports your comment.
  14. jconly macrumors member

    Jul 12, 2007
    New York, NY
    No problem, I wasn't actually 100% positive about that either.

    I do know of one drive on the market that supports both eSata and FW (at full eSATA speeds), but it's not a combined bridge. You actually physically remove the eSata part, and replace it with a different part for FW.

    It's those FreeAgent drives. My roomate has one.
    That might be an option.

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