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Time for a new computer. Suggestions?

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Old 05-04-2011, 07:33 AM
Carol Heath's Avatar
Carol Heath Carol Heath is offline
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Re: Time for a new computer. Suggestions?

Wow! Thank you all so much for those suggestions. As usual a wealth of information here at Retouchpro. It will be a huge help.
The computer will be my main work machine, mostly for Photoshop CS5 and associated programs. I have a great computer guy who will custom build from scratch so will do some research and hand him a long list.
Renata, Thanks for the heads up re. Dell and the NRMA card. I assume the same would apply to RACV. This may be handy in future.
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Old 05-04-2011, 08:28 AM
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mistermonday mistermonday is offline
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Re: Time for a new computer. Suggestions?

Originally Posted by Tony W View Post
Hi Murray, sometimes envious of the prices you seem to enjoy on so many products
I do appreciate the rule that the scratch disk be on a seperate drive but was wondering why not make the scratch disk an SSD (apart from cost)? For those times when PS accessed this drive it would fly! On the other hand with 16Gb available perhaps the scratch disk less important?
Hi Tony, yes, if price is no object, then a dedicated SDD for scratch would be nice, especially since prices of the smaller 60GB SSDs have come way down. Adding one certainly won't hurt. However, nothing is faster than RAM, and PS's use of scratch disk only impacts its performance of other tasks when it runs out of RAM.
Best regards, Murray
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Old 05-14-2011, 01:33 AM
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Craig Walters Craig Walters is offline
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Re: Time for a new computer. Suggestions?

since no one has really covered it, i'll jump in with one more thing that one shld consider with any new rig... a backup plan and hardware! this shld be considered at the time of buying a new rig, not 2 years later when one or more drives have failed i'm not even going to talk about software for backups. choose your own there. i'm going to talk hardware. i am now using RAID5 on my system. this has already saved me countless hours of tearing out my hair trying to recover data off a failed disk. RAID5 is a configuration of harddrives. i have 3 terabyte drives in my computer. two are for a normal mirroring of data, such that if one ever goes bad you simply take that one out and pop another one in of the same size and rebuild the RAID array, which basically means you're copying the data over from the other good drive. but, RAID5 has one more feature over and above a normal mirror RAID array. RAID5 adds one more drive of the same size as the other two and keeps it hooked up, but not used. it's a spare. it's supposed to kick in when one of the other drives goes bad and rebuild everything pretty much automatically... at least that's what my tech guy says

i recently had a drive fail on me. i lost NO DATA! it did take a while to rebuild the array, but i lost NOTHiNG! so, that's one backup plan.

the other i recommend is having another drive, but an external drive, a usb drive. this one drive shld total whatever other drive space you have on your system. if you have two 500 gig drives, then get a terabyte drive for the backup. the beauty of this system is that you can simply turn the usb drive off when you're not backing up. this saves a little energy but more importantly it saves drive time. most drives are rated at about 10,000 hours, so you want to keep your actual platter spinning time at a minimum. most any software will recognize your drive and work just fine with it. i use an external drive that is the total size of my internals because i dont just back up a few files; i back up the entire system. so, if you're just saving data files, like pictures and music and videos and such, you dont have to have the external equal the internals.

redundancy is the key. i actually use both of the backup systems i just mentioned. i have the RAID5 and an external usb drive. i've even thought of using an off-site backup and if i had a bit faster and more reliable internet, i probably would. it only takes one time of thinking you've just lost 3 years work to make you start thinking more conservatively about backing things up. ok, for me it took several times, but the point is, you start thinking about back-up systems at the same time you're buying your new rig!
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Old 05-14-2011, 09:27 AM
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mistermonday mistermonday is offline
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Re: Time for a new computer. Suggestions?

Craig, you raise a very important topic. Whether one encounters a physical drive failure or a system corruption caused by virus or malware, a strategic backup plan will avoid hours or days worth of misery. BTW, Craig, I used to run RAID but found that the mirrored drives usable life came to an end about the same time as the one that failed so I have an alternate approach.
- 1st physical drive in PC contains only OS and applications
- 2nd physical drive in PC stores all data files (docs, images, videos, music files, etc)
- External USB3.0 drive whose size is equal to or greater than the combined capacity of both internal drives.
- Install backup software that creates real drive images. The two most popular ones are Norton Ghost and Acronis True Image. These can be set to create images of the entire C Drive automatically at preassigned times. They can image a drive with 30GB of OS and apps in 15 mins running in background mode while you are still using your PC for other tasks. If you OS crashes, you are back up and running as you were before in 15 mins.
- There is a free utility called Synchback from a company called Minitools which allows you to set up simple or sophisticated backup or mirroring of all of the data files, It will do that incrementally, so if you have 300GB of photos and you add 10GB this week, the backup will only take a few mins instead of a couple of hours.
- Both the images and data files can be stored on the external drive.
- If you can not afford to take the 1 chance in 1 billion that internal and external drives will fail at the same time, add a 2nd external drive for a duplicate backup.
As someone aptly wrote "If it's worth doing, it's worth keeping". A robust backup plan is essential, whatever form it takes.
Regards, Murray
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Old 05-14-2011, 10:53 AM
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Tony W Tony W is offline
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Re: Time for a new computer. Suggestions?

A very important point about backup strategy and one that we should only overlook if we are prepared to take the risk. FWIW this is my take on the subject and of course your mileage may vary.

While I am no way knocking anyone that chooses RAID over conventional backup strategies i.e. storing to external drives using backup/imaging software. I have always had some concerns about RAID arrays due to added complexity and possible reliability issues. These may well outweigh any benefits over using reliable external storage for example 2Tb drives are now fairly common and inexpensive.

There is a saying I believe in IT along the lines of data does not exist unless it is in 3 different physical locations

For some reason motherboard manufacturers all started to include RAID controllers on their boards and most users seem to think that this was the answer to all potential threats of data loss.

I believe that RAID was/is mainly intended for large enterprise use. My own experience in an environment where the storage requirement was to have 24/7 access to medical images to potentially hundreds of users. In a four year period the number of images exceeded 12 million and yes RAID 5 systems were deployed. And yes there were failures although non catastrophic.

It is my understanding while RAID 5 can survive 1 disk failure by reconstructing data it cannot survive 2 disk failures consequently all data will be lost. Perhaps if RAID array is preferred then RAID 10 may offer a better solution.

We have to accept that all drives at some time will fail it is not a question of if but of when. Then the question is how long will it take to restore data when a HDD fails? With a RAID it may be as simple as a hot swap or more complex needing to rebuild data. While a restore from backup may not be as convenient or quick? it may be all you need for average to high volume user.

So my preference is a seperate image backup of the system

Final thought on this, all drives will fail at some point the more drives you have e.g. RAID array the more your chances of encountering a HDD failure ?

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Old 05-14-2011, 10:27 PM
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Boneappetit Boneappetit is offline
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Re: Time for a new computer. Suggestions?

Wow, nice info in general guys... The backup talk is just way too cool. Gotta luv this site... My 2 cents here are; something I read a long time ago on a Windows or Mac issue... If your main work is Art (music, paint, retouch etc, Mac is the way to go)... I personally prefer Mac for anything... But that's me... If your main work is Office stuff, or commercial, go for Windows.

I made the move to Mac a couple of years ago, and will never go back. Since then I haven't got a virus, crash, or patch problem, that were regular stuff while using Windows... Only had some small cons when I started, due to the availability of some programs, those can be found nowadays with no hassle.

Last edited by Boneappetit; 05-15-2011 at 07:57 AM.
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Old 05-15-2011, 01:19 AM
RobertAsh RobertAsh is offline
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Re: Time for a new computer. Suggestions?


Quite a lot has been covered already but I'd just add a few other points regarding my own computer setup:
  • RAID-0. You get the best performance at the lowest cost. RAID-5 like Kraellin's is great if you have the budget to buy that many disks - I would never say "don't do that". But I'm running RAID-0 across 2 drives and the speed is 2x that of a single drive or a RAID-1. Running big files like images really needs high performance reads/writes, and a single disk is not going to give you that.
  • I'd stay far away from a single drive for your image files, it's too slow now, and will get even worse as files get even bigger -- and they certainly will.
  • RAID-0 Backup. Again, if you go RAID-5 you don't have to do this part, although you do need a backup. If you lose 2 RAID-5 drives at once then you lose all your data. Also, the faster your backup runs, the faster you can restore if you need to. I use a G-RAID connected with eSATA. It's pre-configured RAID-0 and is made for Mac so you know it works I run mine on a PC so I had to use Disk Manager to reformat it from Mac to PC format, but my G-RAID is trouble-free unlike my last eSATA array (a no-name one).
  • HP instead of Dell. Dell has been my brand for 10-12 years but HP's passed them nowadays from what I can see. My Dell 9100 came with 1.5 TB RAID-0 1-2 years ago, now Dell sells 1 TB as their largest RAID-0 and charges more!
  • Hexacore. 6-cores are available now and will replace quad-cores soon, no doubt. Dell charges $1000 more for a 6-core, HP only charges $500 more or so. I just priced out a 6-core HP with 2 TB RAID-0 that cost about the same as a Dell quad-core with 1 TB RAID-0. I plan to replace my computer this year I hope, so looks like it's likely to be HP this time.
All the best, whichever way you decide to go

Last edited by RobertAsh; 05-15-2011 at 10:39 AM.
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Old 05-15-2011, 02:38 AM
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ashphotoart ashphotoart is offline
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Re: Time for a new computer. Suggestions?

well, my quesion is as well :

what about apple i-mac 21.5" for serious photo retouching ?
it has system and monitor.
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Old 05-15-2011, 05:08 AM
DiamondPlatinum DiamondPlatinum is offline
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Re: Time for a new computer. Suggestions?

Could anybody suggest which Mac is the best if I am retouching in photoshop and rendering 3d images ..
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Old 05-15-2011, 08:26 AM
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Boneappetit Boneappetit is offline
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Re: Time for a new computer. Suggestions?

Hi DP:

If i understand your question well, I guess it is a matter of which is the best one you can afford. On the other hand, it also depends on the target you are after; work in the house, a laptop if you want to easily move your works, etc... Certain computer won't make you a better retoucher, but as a rule of thumb the huskier the elements of the computer the better... I mean a nice husky processor, video card, memory and disk, will surely work better than the smaller ones specially, if you often work with 3D images.
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