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  1. #1

    Member Since
    Jan 01, 2012
    Question Questions regarding post-processing work using an iMac & an external hard drive
    Hello Everyone,

    I am a photographer who has been working with a Windows-based laptop. I will be purchasing the 21.5” iMac as well as an external hard drive for storage/backup purposes. I have a few concerns and am hoping to get some assistance and advice. Thank you in advance for taking the time to read my post and provide me with some direction.

    Here is what I plan to achieve with my new setup:

    1. Upgrade to the 2.8GHz quad-core i7
    2. Increase memory to 16GB
    3. Have 1 TB of hard disk space, with only applications saved onto it
    4. Use the external HD as the primary source/location of my files

    Here are my concerns:

    1. When selecting an external hard drive, would it be considered “useless” to purchase a hard drive that is double the size of the internal hard drive?

    2a. If I only save my photos or files (both original and edited versions) to my external hard drive, will I be limiting the speed in which it takes the computer to process commands due to the fact that the original file is saved to the external as opposed to the internal hard drive?

    2b. Am I better off getting a 2TB internal hard drive instead and just save the original and edited files to the internal hard drive; using the external hard drive solely as a “backup” in order for me to fully utilize the power and speed of the i7 processor?

    I apologize if my questions are either unclear/confusing or simply just lack common sense. Again, I would greatly appreciate any assistance on these or any other factors that I may have forgot to address.



  2. #2

    Dysfunction's Avatar
    Member Since
    Mar 17, 2008
    Tucson, AZ
    Way... way too many specs to list.
    You'll be limiting the read/write times to the drive, but minorly. I've used networked drives as storage for images out of Lr and Ps without issue. If you're really worried about it, go Thunderbolt.. that'll put you with a faster throughput to the drive than the SATA drive interface can actually handle.
    This machine kills fascists
    Got # ? phear the command line!

  3. #3
    Quote Originally Posted by J-Villa View Post
    3. Have 1 TB of hard disk space, with only applications saved onto it
    4. Use the external HD as the primary source/location of my files

    This is typical Windows thinking, rooted in the myth that if you have a lot of files on your hard drive that it will lard up the OS' performance. That may be true on Windows but it is not true on the Mac (until you get to the point where the hard drive is nearly full, of course).

    My suggestion (as seen in my essay, linked below) is to just use the machine as designed. It was designed by very, very smart people who thought a LOT about these sorts of questions. The user folder is by default on the boot drive, and I've never seen any good reason for it to be located elsewhere. Apart from a TB external drive (more about that later), you would be at a speed disadvantage in everyday use keeping the user folder externally.

    That said, it would of course make a lot of sense for a photographer store his photo library on another drive (and back up that external drive) if said library is going to get very large. Any photo program you might choose from iPhoto on up will of course let you do this.

    If you're going to work with large files that originate on an external drive, my suggestion would be either a Firewire 800 drive or (once they start appearing in more numbers and at lower prices) a Thunderbolt drive.

    But you could of course just keep them on the boot drive if you like. It won't affect performance of other operations in anyway as long as you remember to keep a decent amount of hard drive space free at all times (the term "decent amount" is subjective but I would say a couple dozen GBs at least). Every photo program I'm aware of also supports multiple libraries so that collections don't also get so large as to be unwieldy to manage.

  4. #4

    Member Since
    Jan 01, 2012
    Thanks for the replies, I appreciate the feedback.

    I did go over your essay a few days ago as I have been seeing many of your posts on this forum. I found your essay to be very helpful. I appreciate your knowledge and assistance.



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