So, I am upgrading my fathers workstation that I built four years ago. Naturally, this leads to some questions...
The system is used for photo editing and light office work. 90% Lightroom, 5% Photoshop, 5% Office work / Internet is a reasonable estimate. He might also end up doing some light audio and video editing.
The computer is based around a Gigabyte P35 motherboard running an E6600.
The upgrades will be:
Windows 7 (64bit) (from XP pro), 8 Gb memory (from 2), and a new storage system:
- 60-120 GB SSD for the system
- 2x1.5 TB (WD Caviar Green or similar) in a RAID 1 array for data storage (RAW files, etc)
- 1 disk (or partition) to mirror the SSD (as hidden as possible, might even disconnect after everything is installed)
- 1 disk for the more write intensive parts of the system drive ("My documents", pagefile, tmp directorys, etc)
(also, external drives for off-site backup. They are managed manually by my severely computer-illiterate father, so RAID it is...)
Is splitting the C: drive necessary? Is it even a good idea? Should I maybe just isolate the Lightroom catalogue?
Will 60 GB be enough for a windows 7 system? Cost is an issue as this is an intermediate upgrade.
System stability and data safety are the most important factors here. With that in mind, are there any obvious traps that I should be aware of?
Second, mirroring the SSD to an HDD will slow down all write operations to the speed of the HDD. I personally do image backups to an HDD periodically. I am willing to have to restore my system drive to the state it was in a month ago if necessary.
The rest of this is randomly-ordered points, because I am too lazy to make a coherent document.
You've got most of the important ideas already. Offsite backups (RAID is NOT a substitute for backups). Moving intensive writes off the SSD. I'm not sure what you mean by "splitting" the C drive. Don't partition it, if that's what you mean.
I repeat: RAID is not a substitute for backups.
When you install Win7, make sure that the SSD is the only drive in the system. Covered in the link above, but worth repeating. Otherwise, your boot process will start on the old boot drive, and you won't be able to boot without it.
Typically, only the OS and software are installed on the SSD, because space is at such a premium. This means that programs will load faster, but not run any faster. If you need to install a very large program that won't fit, there was a lovely post here recently on how to install it on one of your HDDs even if the installation procedure doesn't prompt for an install location.
Now, the kicker. We typically put write-intensive stuff off the SSD to save wear on the SSD. But seriously. Did you buy an SSD to take care of it, or to have it work for you? If you are using apps that crunch huge amounts of data, you will get faster execution if you put the scratch files on the SSD. Yes, it will wear out sooner. But apps that depend on paging or scratch files will run faster.