Setup with SSD &HDD? Location of scratch & home folders?

Discussion in 'iMac' started by sfandtheworld, Jan 5, 2011.

  1. sfandtheworld, Jan 5, 2011
    Last edited: Jan 6, 2011

    sfandtheworld macrumors newbie

    Jan 5, 2011
    What is Best setup for iMac with SSD and HDD? Best location of scratch & home folders?

    iMac 2.93 GHz Quad core i7, 8GB RAM, 1 TB HDD + 256 GB SSD

    There is not much info from Apple about the best way to set up an iMac with a Hard Drive and Solid state drive. I’ve looked at a few of the forum posts across the web and came up with a plan and lots of questions. (I do use photoshop frequently, but not on a professional level):

    1. I will keep OS and Applications on SSD
    2. Would you do it differently or not at all about moving the home folder? I saw some posts about moving the entire home folder, but it makes more sense to me to only move selected folders withing the home folder to take advantage of speed of SSD. So will keep the home folder on SSD, but move certain folders (document, music, iphoto, download, etc.) to 1 TB HDD via instructions I found on the macintoshperformanceguide website (**is this the same as creating an allias?):
    sudo cp -r Documents /Volumes/Master
    sudo rm -rf Documents
    sudo ln -s /Volumes/Master/Documents Documents

    3. I will attach an external hard drive for most of my documents and backup storage

    --4. MY main QUESTION and here is where I’m not sure what’s best:
    I want to speed up photoshop as much as possible:
    -- should I make a partition on the internal HDD for a scartch disk? If so, how big? Is there a benefit to partitioning for scratch disc use?
    -- should I not partition HDD and use for data and scratch?
    -- any other way?
    I wish apple had a how to maximize use of the imac with HDD and SSD page! Any advice and commentary is appreciated as I am pretty illiterate when it comes to this stuff. Thanks.
  2. HobeSoundDarryl macrumors 604


    Feb 8, 2004
    Hobe Sound, FL (20 miles north of Palm Beach)
    For your main question (#4), increase your ram from 8GB to 16GB. That will get the most out of photoshop. You might think of SSD as slow ram and HDD as slower ram. SSD is faster than HDD but slower than RAM for photoshop tasks. So load up your RAM and you'll make photoshop tasks run as quickly as possible on that machine. The OS will use the HDD space as a ram scratch disc when you are working with very big photoshop files.

    I think of things like this:
    • Put stuff on the SSD that I want to "read" (into RAM) faster than it will read from the HDD
    • Put stuff on the HDD when read speed is not that important, or the file sizes are too small to notice much of a difference.

    In both cases- SSD or HDD- the reads are into RAM so that you can actually do something with the files. Thus, maxing out RAM for max speed is fundamental to your Photoshop needs.

    For your other questions, if you subscribe to the idea that lots of writes to an SSD are bad, you want to keep files written to often on the HDD and only put files written to occasionally (such as application updates) on the SSD. In my own case (believing the many writes thing to be true), I did move the entire Home folder to the HDD while leaving applications, etc on the SSD. This has worked very well for me.
  3. steve77uk macrumors regular

    Oct 28, 2007
    Ditto, I have done the same. I have a 2TB drive with my home folder redirected in Accounts and a 2TB FW drive which is cloned from the internal 2TB. Nice and easy. Nice and fast :)

    OS and Apps on the SSD.
  4. The General, Jan 11, 2011
    Last edited: Jan 11, 2011

    The General macrumors 601

    Jul 7, 2006
    All I did is move my home folder to the HDD and set Photoshop to use the HDD as its scratch disk (because it quickly fills the SSD when working with huge images). Works great.

    I suppose having your ~/Library folder on the SSD would make applications run slightly faster, but all they have to load is a few tiny plists, so it doesn't really make a noticeable difference. I've just found that it's a lot simpler and easier to manage to just stick the whole home folder on the HDD and not worry about it.

    You don't really want to use aliases, they tend to perform poorly in my experience. Drag and drop your user directory onto the HDD, cmd click Accounts in system preferences unlock and then right click your name to change the location of your home folder
  5. sfandtheworld thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jan 5, 2011
    much appreciated

    Thanks everyone for your thoughts and answers - It all makes more sense now.

    I think I'll keep OS and apps on SSD, move home folder (and assign scratch) to HDD, and have an external (bootable?) firewire drive for backup (and get more RAM when I can afford it:). That makes sense to me and seems fairly simple. Thanks again for all the explanations and tips.

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