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SSD plus 1 HDD vs. 2 HDDs in RAID 0 or use external drives for video editing on

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April 17, 2012 11:56:35 AM

I was hoping some of you helpful people could advise me on which of these options would be best for video editing (with Adobe After Effects, Final Cut Pro X, and possibly soon cinema 4d) on a macbook pro:

Option A: an internal SSD for the boot drive and programs plus an internal 7200 RPM HDD for everything else including the media and output etc.

Option B: 2 internal 7200 RPM HDDs in RAID 0 with everything on it.

Option C: an internal ssd and external RAID 0

Option D: internal ssd for boot. 1 internal hdd for media. and output to an external drive. No RAID.

Option E: A better option I haven't thought of.

My major concern here is speed and efficiency. I would routinely back everything up to different external drives not mentioned above for storage. I would love to have 3 drives(or many more!): one ssd for the boot drive and two HDDs in a RAID 0 for my media but unfortunately that is not an option for internal drives because I am limited to 2 and I'm not totally clear on potential drawbacks of relying on external RAID drives. Also - would I specifically need a thunderbolt drive to get high enough throughput for the RAID 0 to really shine? I know ideally I would have program files and the OS on a separate drive but I don't really understand whether the speed increase from a RAID 0 would overcome the drawbacks of having everything together if I went just with the internal RAID 0. I'm also not clear on whether having a drive for the output that is separate from the drive for the media I am working with is more important for speed than the boost from RAID 0.

I would really appreciate any and all feedback on this. Please feel free to explain to me in detail how I am an idiot and the answer is obvious. That would be fine with me. I don't want to pretend like I actually know much about all of this. I've been reading a lot on the subject for many hours now but I was starting totally from scratch in my understanding and I'm still unsure of the answer to this particular question so I thought I would actually try posting for once instead of combing through semi-relevant posts on various forums like usual. Thanks!

More about : ssd hdd hdds raid external drives video editing

a c 316 G Storage
April 17, 2012 12:28:37 PM

I have several thoughts. These are not authoritative, but

1) Keep it simple. RAID 0 is a lovely way to lose your data; don't use it unless you have a demonstrated need.

2) When most people refer to external drives, they mean USB 2.0 drives. These are slow compared to internal drives. External drives, when you need speed, should be USB 3.0 or _true_ eSata.

3) The answer depends on how much money you have to throw at the problem. The fastest solution would be SSDs large enough for your OS and all of your projects. But this may be beyond your budget. In which case, I would go with something like option D :

o All internal drives for working, plus external drives for the all-important backups. You must back up, or risk losing your projects.

o An SSD large enough for your OS, programs, and scratch space. Adobe has a page on the effective use of SSDs. Unless you have enough space for the entire project, they recommend putting the scratch area on the SSD.

The program writes to and reads from the scratch area a lot. So it's reasonable to make this space as quick as possible, especially for random IO. In fact, if you can't afford an SSD that big, install the OS on the HDD and use the SSD for the scratch space!

o One internal HDD for input and output. Because that's what's available.

I don't know if the Macbook Pro is available with USB 3.0 or eSATA. If it is, you can use an external drive as your output drive with confidence that it will work pretty much as fast as an internal drive.

I am curious as to why you are doing video editing on a notebook machine; that's an unusual choice. Do you need to be portable (but an external working drive plus a backup drive is turning into a load), did you already have the machine, or what? I'm not criticizing the choice, just want to know.
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a c 265 G Storage
April 17, 2012 12:33:22 PM

Why limited to 2 internal drives?
Option A is what I would set up, if possible with 2 x 7200rpm HDD in Raid0, with external backup! Two HDD in Raid 0 will not compete with the SSD in load times.
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a c 316 G Storage
April 17, 2012 12:34:59 PM

rolli59 said:
Why limited to 2 internal drives?

'cuz it's a notebook.
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April 17, 2012 1:47:58 PM

I would recommend option A or D. The hybrid setup of ssd and hdd really cant be beat for price and performance. Then just use an external hdd for backing up. With your limited number of ports, you shouldn't really even be considering raid.
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April 19, 2012 1:14:03 PM

I've been through this kind of thing previously and am facing it again... recently being lucky enough to have enough income to splurge on my ideal new macbookpro 17 machine...

after on OWC 256 ssd died somehow soon after getting it (i am still buying from them and have for years, i'm not implying any doubt in their excellent products!) but i bought that as a supplement for my old 17 macbook that was about 3-4 years old and through upgrades and pushing things was grinding along but overdue for semi (or full) retirement

so in that case though i had been doing the setup A as described ... which works well on my mac pro tower too - where i have a year old 256gb ssd for startup in the 2nd cd bay, then 4 2tb wd black drives raided for speed and the raid set to two partitions - set up as instructed on bare feats... something i wouldnt want to have to consider the implications of recovering a drive crash from, i do backup but not as well as i should and have paid the price a couple times, working on that....

But i am thinking about pushing the envelope more here, and considering 2 x 480gb SSDs so basically 1 tb of SSD raided internally on the macpro....

i hear the cd-bay may or may not support 6g

in any event i'd rather not spend the 2k+ on the top fastest OWC ssd when i could get the other 6g ones for currently about $650 each... thinking that raiding them together would go above and beyond speeds of the faster model.

is this a gonzo moron plan (I promise to properly setup and daily backup externally)

does anyone have any knowledge of problems or things i should consider about raiding (0) two internal SSds in a macbook pro?

thanks
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April 20, 2012 8:22:52 PM

1919484,2,63269 said:
I have several thoughts. These are not authoritative, but
Quote:

1) Keep it simple. RAID 0 is a lovely way to lose your data; don't use it unless you have a demonstrated need.


Thanks. I've never actually used RAID 0 but I am aware that I would be effectively doubling my chances of losing my data. The idea is that it would be frequently backed up onto external drives.
Quote:

2) When most people refer to external drives, they mean USB 2.0 drives. These are slow compared to internal drives. External drives, when you need speed, should be USB 3.0 or _true_ eSata.


In my case my current drives are firewire 800.

Quote:
I don't know if the Macbook Pro is available with USB 3.0 or eSATA. If it is, you can use an external drive as your output drive with confidence that it will work pretty much as fast as an internal drive.


Unfortunately the macbook pro doesn't support usb 3.0 without some kind of adapter. There is a thunderbolt connection on the newe MBPs but thunderbolt external drives are currently very pricey compared to usb 3 or esata externals. I was previously using a OWC Slim ExpressCard to eSATA Adapter to use an esata connection on my macbook pro but I found it was not actually as fast as it "should" have been. ABout 100 mb/s read and write vs. 80mbs read 65 write for firewire. Obviously better but I started getting a bunch of kernel panics and realized it was being caused by the adapter so had to stop using it. One option might be to get the new lacie thunderbolt to esata hub ($200) and connect to external esata.

Quote:
I am curious as to why you are doing video editing on a notebook machine; that's an unusual choice. Do you need to be portable (but an external working drive plus a backup drive is turning into a load), did you already have the machine, or what? I'm not criticizing the choice, just want to know.


Well I am currently on a macbook pro but in addition to that I am looking to upgrade soon and considering another macbook pro. I do freelance video editing and production. I had thought about making a move to a desktop but in thinking about it I realized how much I use the portability of my system. For example in the last month I've taken my whole system to meet up with clients at their locations, to meet someone I was tutoring, for presentations to a couple classes, to a video shoot to do some live monitoring etc. I also sometimes travel and bring it. Not too often really but for example last December I took it with me to visit my family for 10 days and was able to do at least some amount of work every day I was gone. So I'm not sure I can say it is absolutely essential but it definitely comes in handy quite a bit.
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April 20, 2012 9:47:09 PM

I just want to clarify my original post a bit:

From what I've read about configuring a system for video editing, the ideal setup is to have at least 3 drives. One would be for OS and Programs, one would be for storing media, and one would be for renders and exports- That way you are reading from one drive and writing to another to increase efficiency. Please note: that is in addition to external backups. No matter what configuration I go with, all of my media will be backed up to separate external drives which I already have.

Unfortunately with a macbook pro I will basically be limited to 2 internal drives since it is a laptop. So the only options seem to be either making the best use of those two hard drives, or including some fast external drives as part of the setup. Again this does not have to include any kind of back up solutions as that will be handled by separate external drives.

I've read that specifically for video editng ssds arent all that great compared to HDDs in RAID 0 because ssds are not so hot at handling very large sequential files. However Ive read they are a substantial boost for a boot/program drive because the operations required. I'm not too concerned about the increase for data loss with a raid 0 because the files will be backed up elsewhere.

So I understand that of course having drives in RAID 0 will help speed and I understand having separate drives for reading and writing large video files will help speed but not clear on exactly how the setups I listed would compare to each other.
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July 11, 2012 11:30:30 PM

I edit project by project at a time and use 2 internal drives (2x 500GB) and one 1TB external for back-up. I plan on getting a second 1TB external in the future and having two backup externals. It's awesome how much faster I'm working through 2 internal drives than through a USB 2.0 External. For me, the best option is:

Drive 1: HDD with O/S, use the same drive for cache.
Drive 2: Holds my project files as well as my scratch disk.

I really don't see the need for a SSD or RAID unless you're a business or have huge files. My projects (and I work on one at a time) don't usually exceed 100GB.
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October 7, 2012 8:46:27 PM

If you're limited to 2 drives in a MBP / any other laptop then I would actually go for option E:

2 x SSD's (one for boot/software, 1 as a scratch disk)
and thunderbolt external storage (if not, firewire 800) for media storage.

If this is undesirable then I would suggest a 7200rpm magnetic drive for OSX/progs and STILL an internal SSD for the scratch disk.

If you're messing around with 1080p material or higher resolutions this is the best solution imo - the scratch disks are where all the real I/O activity goes on when you're scrubbing around a timeline. Personally I have a video and an audio scratch disk, although since audio isn't a massive hit unless dealing with for example, multiple PCM tracks or maybe multiplexed Dolby-E material. If you're using a few tracks of audio you can get away with a vid/audio combined scratch.

Oh and btw, I recommend binning FCPX and getting Premiere Pro CS6. It stomps all over FCPX (or iMovie pro as I like to call it), can handle all your FCP 6/7 projects (without paying for extra software like you do for the Apple FCP solution... what a joke), and you won't need to transcode your HDV material to ProRes or the like (as I believe you still would have to in FCPX for performance).
Also... if you're using AE I think you will find the benefits of Prem a delight - they seamlessly work with one another, its almost like its the same prog running.
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October 7, 2012 8:55:20 PM

Quote:

"I've read that specifically for video editng ssds arent all that great compared to HDDs in RAID 0 because ssds are not so hot at handling very large sequential files."

This is kind of true but it doesn't really count for your normal scrubbing around the timeline in sequences... once subclips and the like are added to timelines remember that the entire masterclip data will be on the scratch disk (for guardbands etc). Remember these "big writes" are very infrequent once your project is up and running. You WILL however benefit massively from the massive sequential READ speeds while scrubbing around your timelines.
Also tbh... SSD's aren't slower at writes than magnetic drives, they're still quicker, its just not as big a performance gain as the random reads/general IOPS.
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October 26, 2012 7:26:02 PM

I have a similar question as the OP's. But I'm using a Mac Pro 2009 with two 400GB OCZ enterprise grade SSDs in bays 1 and 2, and two WD Caviar Black 2TB drives in bays 3 and 4, plus a 4TB Hitachi Deskstar drive in one of the optical bays. I'm doing similar work with Final Cut Pro, Pro Tools 9 (which I'm not sure works with RAID well). How would you RAID or not RAID these 5 drives if you had this set up? Initially I was going to RAID 0 the two SSDs as boot drive (800GB) to give me 500MB/sec reads and writes (Mac Pro 2009 has SATA II), RAID 0 the two HDDs for media storage (4TB) (not sure what speed benefit I'll get there with SATA II and HDDs in RAID 0), and then use the 4TB HDD as backup for all of my data (with Super Duper on a nightly schedule)

But after reading some of your suggestions maybe I should go without RAID and use one SSD as boot drive, one SSD as current FCPro X project data drive, and the two HDDs as media storage either RAID 0 or separate partitions. If anyone knows the speed benifit I'd get in RAID 0 on HDDs with Mac Pro 2009 that has SATA II please inform. Since I'll be backing up nightly to the 4TB drive I can afford to take the RAID 0 reliability chance if the speed boost is significant. Thoughts?
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