Why Offloading to External Storage???

Discussion in 'iMac' started by Reg88, Mar 13, 2013.

  1. Reg88 macrumors regular

    Jun 8, 2010
    I've been reading a lot of the posts about external storage and I was wondering, with a brand new iMac with a fusion drive or an SSD, why are people offloading pictures and videos to external thunderbolt drives to work on them as opposed to keeping them on the main machine?

    Is it because there's no RAID on the iMac, or is there a speed issue?

  2. justperry macrumors G3


    Aug 10, 2007
    In the core of a black hole.
    Most if not all do this for safekeeping, as in backup, not offloading.
  3. Reg88 thread starter macrumors regular

    Jun 8, 2010
    That makes senes (it's what I do) -- but I've been reading here that photo editors, for example, are putting their photo libraries on an external SSD that's connected via thunderbolt -- or even in a RAID 0 array for speedy access to the data?

    But wouldn't data access on the internal bus still be faster than via external thunderbolt or usb 3?
  4. marc11 macrumors 68000

    Mar 30, 2011
    NY USA
    Just a matter of space for me. My iTunes library is over 1 GB, my other media such as ripped DVD and home movies is about 800 MB and my photos is over 30 GB. Can't put all of that on my 1 TB internal, so I off load my media to an external and keep my pictures on my internal. I use Aperture's vault option to back up my pictures to an external drive and also use an external 240 GB SSD drive as a scratch disk for editing video and pictures with Photoshop elements.
  5. justperry macrumors G3


    Aug 10, 2007
    In the core of a black hole.
    Yes, the best and fastest way is internal, BUT, the problem is Apple's maximum SSD storage is 768 GB and it's expensive.
    Now, it is cheaper and (almost) as fast to offload this to an external SSD, you can have two 512 GB for much less than what Apple charges, also, now with thunderbolt it's fast externally as well.
    Another problem is that for the iMac is that you can't open up the iMac without loosing warranty, so you can't install an internal drive.
  6. flynz4, Mar 13, 2013
    Last edited: Mar 13, 2013

    flynz4 macrumors 68040

    Aug 9, 2009
    Portland, OR
    I have a 2012 iMac with the 768GB SSD option. There is not enough capacity to hold 100% of my data (~ 1.4 TB). My configuration is as follows:

    • 768 GB SSD: OSX, Applications, User Directories, iTunes database (sans media), full Aperture library
    • Pegasus R4 (8TB): iTunes Media (music & video files) plus a Aperture library clone (updated nightly)

    The reality is that streaming media does not need SSD speeds. However, OSX, Applications, and Aperture libraries benefit quite a bit with SSDs.

    In my case, my A3 library is just under 400GB and growing at least 100GB/year (ever since I switched to RAW photos). I currently have 323GB free on my 768GB SSD... so I am probably good for 2-3 years of Aperture library growth unless I slow down on my photography (not likely). At that time, I'll have to choose (in decreasing probability):

    1) Buy a new iMac, and give this one to my wife
    2) Move my Aperture library to a new larger Thunderbolt SSD
    3) Move my Aperture library to my Pegasus.

    All 3 are viable... but I am already so spoiled by exclusively using SSDs (since 2008)... that I do not think I could stand moving anything (other than music & videos) to a HDD.

    BTW: An external array (like my Pegasus R4) is significantly higher performance than an internal single spindle drive.

  7. seanm9 macrumors regular

    Dec 29, 2007
    Cape Cod, MA
    Thunderbolt is faster than the internal SATA3 bus... FireWire was faster than the old SATA(2?)/PATA busses of the old days... External has always been faster.... Now both interfaces are faster than the drives they connect to... Unless you create a RAID... The depending on number of drives, drive speed and config of the array (RAID1,5,10 etc) where you can start to saturate thunderbolt
  8. n-i-k-k-o macrumors member

    Jan 15, 2007
    Calne, Wiltshire, UK
    Main arguments for separating system & data volumes are made here: http://macperformanceguide.com/SettingUp-SeparateData.html but his recommendations for a Mac Pro are rendered out of date by Thunderbolt ports within the new iMac. As others have mentioned, using SSD RAID0 external storage offers no performance compromises yet brings all the benefits outlined by Diglloyd in the above link.

    FWIW, I passed on the internal 768GB SSD and chose the 1TB Fusion option. In my case, I partitioned the Fusion drive into Boot (which is set at the minimum partition size ~100GB) and Media (which is ~900GB). The partitioning process forces the Media partition to be 100% located on the HDD portion of the Fusion. So, the Boot volume contains OSX system files & apps located 100% on the SSD portion of the Fusion. The Media disk holds iTunes libraries and other stuff that doesn't benefit from fast or random access performance. For all User folders, including my Aperture library, I have a Thunderbolt connected LaCie Little Big Disk 1TB SSD RAID array, which operates in RAID0 for performance. It has similar performance characteristics to the internal 768GB Apple option but better $$$/GB.

    I backup to a LaCie 2Big 2TB RAID array (TimeMachine) again via Thunderbolt, and also to a USB3 connected WD My Passport 2TB drive which clones Boot, Media & Users using Carbon Copy Cloner. Finally, I have another WD My Passport 1TB drive which contains an Aperture Vault stored offsite. Paranoid, maybe, but I intend never to lose a single megabyte of data.


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