New to Photoshop, set up and install question

So here's my rig

i5 3570
gb Corsair Vengeance 1600 ram
128gb Samsung SSD (83 GB free) SATA III
1TB Seagate 7200 HDD (793 GB free) SATA III
Gigabyte 7850 2GB OC GPU
Windows 7 64 bit

So please bear with me, I am a complete photoshop noob. I picked up a copy of Elements 11 for my wife. I have never used photoshop and frankly never will. My wife has wanted Elements for a while for what she does with pictures (she builds websites and all the other stuff I guess girls like to do with pictures, forum signatures, facebook, IDK, whatever). Anyway my assumption would be for this like everything else, SSD for program, HDD for storage.

And then getting ready to install this for her I discovered something called a scratch disk...

OK, the concept makes sense. But in trying to figure out how to properly install and set up the program, I figured I stop by the forums first since this is the one place I can get a straight answer.

Please bear in mind, we are not photographers, we are picture takers. Big difference. I did a lot of reading about increasing ram (which I can do, but wont be doing any time soon) or buying separate hard drives specifically for photoshop (which isn't going to happen) So my question is this...

Using the hardware I already have, what is the best way to install photoshop and set up my scratch disk?

Here are my assumptions... as I've already read online, the scratch disk needs to be a separate contiguous drive or partition, and on a separate drive from where the original files will be stored. So my assumption is to install the program itself on my HDD (I don't care if it takes 10 seconds to load instead of 1 or 2) and then make a partition on my SSD for the scratch disk. Problem there is I'd probably only want to set up a 30 or at most 40 gig partition (and even that makes me cringe) as I want to make sure to leave some room for future, non-photoshop related activities. However, I have also heard most people make partitions between 200 and 500 GB, but unfortunately the only answers I can get are from those who seem to be professional photographers who have machines dedicated to this. For someone like me, this seems unnecessary if you format the partition occasionally, or after a project is finished, but maybe I'm wrong. I've heard a scratch disk should be twice your ram, but I've also heard it should be about 100 times the largest file you would work with (which are two drastically different numbers).

My other option of course is to install the program on my SSD and use the HDD for the scratch disk so I can get that 250 GB or larger partition. My problem with this again has to do with the location of the original file compared to the scratch disk as I've read multiple times that the scratch disk must be a partition on a separate drive, or have that entire drive to itself. I assume that if both the original file and scratch disk are on the same drive, then there is some bottlenecking as the program is searching the same drive for two different things.

Obviously I'm making this harder on myself then I have to, I'm sure I could just dump everything on my HDD, let photoshop set up the scratch disk there and I'll be happy. But I come to my fellow Tom's Hardware Forumers and ask, because well, hey, most of us built the rigs we're sitting at and darn it if we don't want to get the most out of them :)

I would love a specific answer. Size of partition (if necessary) to make, which drive for which, etc. Again, I'm emphasizing this, I'm not a photographer, I take pictures of my friends and family and dogs, etc. I just want to get the most out of my money and trust you guys for the right answer.

Thanks again,

- Miles
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  1. Best answer
    You want to do it the other way. Put the scratch disk on the HD and the program on SSD. You want to minimize the number of writes to the SSD and a scratch file is exactly the opposite.
  2. It says on the Adobe Photoshop website that putting the program itself on an SSD will only improve boot up time for the program. What is more important is the scratch disk's location... however, it does not give me any idea what size it is supposed to be. Also, it encourages you to have the scratch disk on the same disk as the OS but different than what you use for storage... so I guess that still narrows my question down to just one... can I get away with a scratch disk that's only 30 or 40 gigs?
  3. 30GB will be MORE than enough given your description of it's intended use. Feel free to have both on the same drive it won't make that much difference in performance. Just keep the scratch off the SSD.
  4. I had not thought about the writes to the SSD, that makes perfect sense. Thank you.

    I will do as you first suggested (and was my original assumption before google made me confused) and install program on SSD and set up a partition on my HDD for scratch.

    Thanks again.
  5. Best answer selected by slimgenre.
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