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  • 2nd Hard Drive

    I am looking into getting a 2nd hard drive for my computer. I heard that it was best to put Windows Virtual memory and PS’s Scratch Disk on the 2nd hard drive. How do you have your 2nd hard drive set up?


  • #2
    I don't have a 2nd hd on any machine w/PS installed, but I've heard the idea is to separate the PS scratch disk from the Windows swap disk. I have, however, had very bad luck in the past putting Windows' swap disk on a non-boot drive. I can't recommend that. So basically, I'd put your OS, programs and swapfile on your boot drive and PS's scratch disk and "My Documents" on the 2nd drive.
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    • #3
      There can be a few things to consider -

      As mentioned, the Windows and Photoshop primary scratch disks are best separated to dedicated drives.

      The faster the drives read/write and access speeds the better.

      Photoshop Scratch is a band aid - ideally you will have enough true RAM (3-5 times the largest common file you work on). So if the primary purpose is to make Photoshop scream then the investment is better spent in RAM or processors.

      If scratch does get used, ideally a separate dedicated empty drive which is defragged on a regular basis is best as the primary scratch. A second or other extra physical drives are then added so that the user can store more files or assign more scratch disks. A relativly small (say 5 gig) but very fast drive which costs little money may be a good solution as the dedicated primary scratch - then a larger but perhaps slower drive can be used as the main extra drive.

      I am not sure if software partions of a single physcial drive is slower than a single large partition, I have never seen any documentation or benchmarks on this.

      RAID hard drive systems used to be the ultimate - today FireWire RAID is probably a fast, safe option for high performance users.


      Stephen Marsh.


      • #4
        Doug and Stephen thanks for the information.

        Stephen, I was under the impression that a 2nd hard drive for PS was essential. But if additional Ram will make PS scream, than additional RAM is what I need.

        I have Windows XP Prof., Pentium 4, 1.7 Ghz Processor, and 512 MB of RAM. If I double the RAM, would this stop PS7 from slowing down after a few hours of working on large files (files the size of our challenges)?



        • #5
          What is the definition of "scream"? My setup is about the same as Sharon's (but XP Home edition), and I *think* Photoshop runs pretty good. By that I mean I don't see any really bad slow downs, except when using *some* filters on a large file. I only have one hard drive in the computer, and I sometimes get a warning that the Windows swap disk is on the same drive as Photoshop's scratch disk. Can someone explain why it's not a good idea to have it set up that way?



          • #6

            RE: "What's your definition of 'scream'?"
            Great question. Screaming for some is dreadfully slow for others. It's definitely relative to what you're used to.

            RE: Why split Swap and Scratch?
            Keeping Swap and Scratch on separate hard disks is a rule of thumb, but not a hard, fast law.

            It's not uncommon for data to be exchanged back-and-forth between the Windows Swap File and PS's scratch disk. When that happens there are literally thousands of "read / write" operations that take place during the data transfer... as data is read from one area and written to another area.

            Generally speaking it is more efficient (computer-wise) to move data from one hard drive to a different one vs. moving it within a single disk).

            When both files are on the same hard drive, there is more delay between each READ and subsequent WRITE.

            1. C:\ Read from Windows Swap
            2. Delay
            3. Delay
            4. Delay
            5. Delay
            6. Delay
            7. C:\ WRITE PS scratch
            8. Delay
            9. Delay
            10. Delay
            11. Delay
            12. Delay
            13. C:\ Read from Windows Swap
            14. Delay
            15. Delay
            16. Delay
            17. Delay
            18. Delay
            19. C:\ WRITE PS scratch
            20. Delay
            21. Delay
            22. Delay
            23. Delay
            24. Delay
            25. DONE

            When files are on different hard drives and assuming each drive is more-or-less the same speed, the delay is less between each READ and the WRITE operation.

            1. C:\ Read from Windows Swap
            2. Delay
            3. D:\ WRITE PS scratch
            4. Delay
            5. C:\ from Windows Swap
            6. Delay
            7. D:\ WRITE PS scratch
            8. Delay
            9. DONE

            For some files and some operations, one would barely notice the difference. For others situations the later configuration may save considerable seconds between operations.

            Things like image size, disk throughput capabilities, how fragmented the disks are, how much RAM is in your machine, what else is running at the moment, what OS you're running, how many images are open concurrently within PS, etc. can have effect on throughput.

            Does this help?


            If PS7 is bogging down with 512MB of RAM on a P4/1.7 under XP/PRO, I'd bet that adding another 512MB will buy you a moderate amount of throughput relief, but I wouldn't bet on "scream" (unless you're working on 100KB images or the like).

            To not make matters worse get a 2nd drive "as fast as" your primary internal hard drive if you decide to go that route.

            A 2nd drive is also a good idea; it would provide a location for a backu copy of "My Documents." (Put "current" My Documents on the new drive; keep a backup on the original.)



            • #7
              Clear as a bell Danny. Thanks for taking the time to explain it.



              • #8
                I'm stuck with one HD at the moment but I had it partitioned into two sections when I got the computer. One partition (D: ) is left blank for Photoshop and this setup seems to work well for me. I have a 1ghz Athlon with 512ram and I regularly work with 100 - 200 mb files without much slow down....maybe it does not "scream" but it gets the job done!


                • #9
                  Hi Danny.

                  Thanks for the detailed information.

                  If I were to get a 2nd hard drive, would I just drag and drop the Scratch Disk and My Documents to it?

                  My present hard drive is IBM 60GB 7200 Ultra IDE. So if my 2nd hard drive is the same brand and speed but only 5GB, then my computer shouldn’t slow down on large files. Right?



                  • #10
                    Photoshop scratch disk location is specified in one of the Preferences dialog boxes. Look for the "Scratch Disk" choice. When you get there you'll see the dropdowns to specify placement.

                    Probably says "C\:" now... change to [whatever address your new external HD is]. It will be in the dropdown list. You'll need to exit/restart PS for this to take effect.

                    RE: My Documents...

                    Since your external HD capacity is 5 GB, moving the entire contents of My Documents there might chew up so much room there won't be enough space for the PS scratch file.... Just depends on the size of the My Documents folder.

                    If you right-click on the My Documents icon and choose Properties, somewhere in the dialog box (it's different with each flavor of Windows it seems) it should tell (or you can calculate) the size of My Documents.

                    If My Documents is real big (like mine is - 40 GB), copying selected folders from My Documents as backups to new HD might be the best you can do.

                    RE: "...then my computer shouldn’t slow down on large files. Right?
                    Time will tell. It could improve throughput. You'll just have to try it.

                    My fingers be crossed for you!



                    • #11

                      Thanks so much. Now I am not confused on what I should do. I’ll go for the 2nd hard drive and to make sure I have enough room I’ll get 40 GBs. I can have one installed at CuttingEdge Computers in Bellevue, WA for $79.00 plus installation.

                      Greg, I was considering a partitioned drive. Thanks for your input.



                      • #12
                        The key to Photoshop's scratch and cache area is essentially the same as any other application's area. Since Windows itself doesnt load itself completely at runtime it will be in a constant state of loading and unloading different runtime modules during the course of any session. Normally this is in the background and is transparent to the user. That is unless the application scratch area and Windows area are the same.

                        Dont confuse Windows scratch and cache area with the virtual memory runtime used by the kernal and exective. That said, it really is beyond the question but here is the point.

                        Since there is alot of swapping going on (especially with small sized system drives (c:, and this is a novice trend to partition too small of a c: drive)) the location of where those swapped files are going can play havoc with the files used in Windows operation. If your scratch is on a drive that is used by other stuff, storage, system, etc, the system will slow and fragmentation will run amok.

                        Therefore, the key word and secret to the answer to your question is DEDICATE. Dedicate a logical or physical drive to the exclusive use of scratch swapping and cache. The swap file for Photoshop disappears at the end of each session so there will be no carryover to the next round. So each time you use PS you are writing to a clean disk with no other files to fragment the operation. This will result in a significant decrease in system slowdowns during the write.

                        My advise is to always partition a drive into the following.

                        system drive used only for system and hardare installations with free space of at least 150% of used space for 98.ME,XP

                        D: drive only used for the installation of program files.

                        e: drive only used for files you create and generate such as artwork, word files, etc.

                        f:, g:,,,,,etc.

                        with the last drive of at least 3 gigs dedicated to remain empty just for scratch and swap files.

                        Be sure to point to this dedicated drive in each application as the scratch area. Then make sure it stays empty.



                        • #13
                          Hi Tex,

                          Thanks for the information. I'll have the shop partition my new hard drive.



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