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using an empty external FW800 drive only for Photoshop as scratchdisc?

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  • using an empty external FW800 drive only for Photoshop as scratchdisc?

    does it make sense to buy an external FW800 (or FW400) drive only for Photoshop as scratchdisc, which is always empty?

    i work on a laptop (powerbook 15" 1,67) with an external TFT screen, and i found out that PS CS2 uses the external drives i have to swap images.

    this is slow as my discs are always nearly full of images and stuff
    so i thought about buying a "Photoshop" disc, which is only reserved for PS. (not for the images, only for PS scratch actions)

    does it make sense, does anyone work like this?

    if yes, how big should the 2,5" disc be? 20GB is to small? does it need 60 or 80GB to scratch? i often have files in PS which are 4GB in PS’s RAM and have 1,5GB space on disc (filespace). i only have 2GB RAM in my laptop so its a slow working.


  • #2
    Strong Recommendation

    I have a large system with lots of HDs. I added a Western Digital Raptor (80GB) which is dedicated as the PS scratch disk. FYI the Raptor is THE fastest hard drive out there, is 10K RPMs, SATA II, processes 150 commands and has separate command and data buffers. It is as fast as SCSI drives. I understand that they are/have just released a couple larger versions but the manufacturers are snapping them up and they are very hard to find and you will probably pay a premium. Besides a very fast drive (1) make sure that the scratch drive is only used as that, and only for photoshop (2) make sure that the system scratch is on a different drive, preferably different than the ones that PS and your photos are on. I got mine as Best Buy, same price as the Internet, @$159 I think.


    • #3
      ok very interesting

      i ordered now a 2,5" disc Clearlight Macpower 7200 80GB FW 400, which will be dedicated for PS only and empty forever. i ordered another Pleiades from Macpower 7200 3,5" Firewire 400 500GB, for my images to work with.

      my working machine is a laptop so i cant use SATA or other hyperfast techniques.
      the powerbook only has 1 FW400 + 1 FW800 + ethernet connecion
      so i am a little stuck here, but lets make the best out of it...

      a thing i would be also interested in:

      is this a bottleneck? the external discs are in one single row chainned by firewire. better connect at least the Photoshop scratch disc directly to the laptop? (hm, it only has 1 Firewire port 400)

      otherwise, if you think its a heavy bottleneck for speed, i could buy a FW 800 drive and use the FW 800 port of the powerbook which is empty (unconnected) currently

      currently i am using a Hub, row chainned, one after another (Firewire 400)



      • #4
        firewire and usb externals are significantly slower than internals. you'd be much better off, speed wise, in using an internal for your scratch disk and using your externals for backups and storage.

        even an internal drive as a scratch disk is a bottleneck. i can always tell when i've filled my ram and am now on the hdd. it's significantly slower. even my tools start to lag a bit.

        now, i think we've discussed this before, but working with 4 gig files just seems like overkill to me. i suppose if you're making billboards or something it might make sense, but if you're doing 8 x 10 prints or something along those lines, you're wasting your resources. that 4 gig file isnt going to translate into print any better than a 4 meg file. now, i do understand about layers and they can really stack up a file size, but i mean, for heaven's sake, make a copy merge and start a new image and work from there! i cant hardly stand to be slowed down by 'slow' hdd's using scratch disks. if my cloning starts to lag, i'd almost rather reboot the machine.



        • #5
          yes i know, i need another machine, laptops are not suitable at all for those images. its no billboard, they are scans in big size like 23X15" or 60x40cm with 300dpi. working on this with many layers like 30 or so is possible when you know exactly what to do and how but its crawling to a slow.

          i will buy a desktop machine later, for now i have to use that workaround, so i ordered a bigger external and will copy some of the internal stuff onto it, as you say i should use the internal as scratchdisc. how much GB should be free?
          in the moment i have 10GB of 80GB free only.

          do you think its better to leave the .psd also on the internal? i have it on the external firewire 400


          • #6
            RAM is cheap. You didn't say how much you had on board, but adding as much RAM as you can to your PB will help speed things up as well.


            • #7
              my laptop cant take more than 2GB RAM. i have 2


              • #8
                it's better if you do ALL of your work on internals. have photoshop on the internal, the file being worked on on the internal and so on. do the work in ram and internals and save the work off onto the externals. it actually shldnt make too much difference if the initial image is loaded from an external as long as photoshop is on the internal, but just to be on the safe side, i'd try to have it all on the internals.

                as for size, if you're working with 4 gig files, then i'd want about 10x that, or 40 gigs. yes, you can go smaller for sure. i mean, if 4 gig is the largest size of file you work with, then you'd really only need 4 gig of swap space on the disk...or less. but due to the nature of operating systems, harddrive storge, fragmentation, cluster sizes ( a hdd thing) and so on, i'd try to make your swap file size, AT THE VERY MINIMUM, at least as large as the largest file you ever expect to work with. i simply said 10x because of the other considerations that can tend to get screwed up.

                also, i've rarely found the need to have 30 layers on any given image. that's not to say that i've not used 30 layers on one image, but the trick is to find a spot where you can do a copy merge of all your layers and paste it off as a new image. you then just keep going from there. if you just have to have a layer from the original, do a control c on that layer and then a control L (paste as new layer) on the second image to put your copied layer on there.

                RAM is a VERY fickle thing on a PC. i dont know about a mac, but on a pc, windows is extremely poor about returning resources not being used. eventually, your 2 gigs of ram is going to get entirely fragmented and make it seem like it's only 2 megs....or less. there are programs for flushing ram on a pc, but that's a bit obnoxious and not always desireable when working on a single image either. so, this is another reason for having a decent sized swap file to work with.

                you can also help your cause by minimizing all the junk that runs on a windows machine in the background and in the system tray. resident programs, services, and active processes and all running in a continuous loop on a pc. they eat ram for breakfast, lunch and dinner. some of these are quite large. for instance, if you're running 'themes' on a pc for the desktop, get rid of it! it's a ram hog! there are over 70 of these things on a standard install of windows xp. not even half of those are critical to the operation of windows itself. kill them. clean up your startup programs. some things you need, but i'm also guessing that there are some things you dont need always. put those on manual instead of automatic and take them out of your startup configuration. call them up manually when you need them. it can be quite surprising how much ram you can actually save by doing this.

                just as a viewable example of this, do a control-alt-del on your computer to call up the task manager. click on the 'services' tab and look down the list of services there. you'll notice over on the right just how much ram each of these is using. it adds up. and on a laptop, with its limits, this would be even more critical.

                also, one last note on all this, whatever size you end up making your swap file, leave AT LEAST 100 megs on your c: drive free. windows sort of wants that and you may have trouble uninstalling and installing other things if you dont. lots of installers and uninstallers use temp files. so, leave some room on any partition for this sort of thing. the C: drive is the most critical, but leave some on other partitions as well. usually doesnt have to be 100 megs on other partitions. i've run some partitions down to almost nothing. it just makes cleaning them after doing that, somewhat difficult



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