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  • School me on SSDs

    I was told that a great way to speed on my Mac Pro 1,1 was to install a solid state drive as the main drive. Pro Tools 10 would run better, Photoshop would run more efficiently and handle those large files faster, I was told, and boot times would be considerably faster.  

    Does this sound right?

    And is installation pretty much like any other drive?  Can I, say, Carbon Clone my hard drive to the SSD and then make the SSD my main drive?  Or is it more complicated than that?  What issues should I know about when doing this?  Thanks!

     

    Ken Lee on 500px / Ken's Photo Store / Ken Lee Photography Facebook Website / Blueberry Buddha Studios / Ajanta Palace Houseboat - Kashmir / Hotel Green View - Kashmir / Eleven Shadows website / Ken Lee Photography Blog / Akai 12-track tape transfers / MY NEW ALBUM! The Mercury Seven

  • #2

    UstadKhanAli wrote:

    I was told that a great way to speed on my Mac Pro 1,1 was to install a solid state drive as the main drive. Pro Tools 10 would run better, Photoshop would run more efficiently and handle those large files faster, I was told, and boot times would be considerably faster.  

    Does this sound right?

     

    Yup, that sounds like something you probably heard.

    And is installation pretty much like any other drive?  Can I, say, Carbon Clone my hard drive to the SSD and then make the SSD my main drive?  Or is it more complicated than that?  What issues should I know about when doing this?  Thanks!

    Two things you should know about (at least things I've heard in addition to what you've heard) are these: Not all SSDs are fully compatible with all computers and operating systems. If you can get a make and model from someone who has installed one successfully in a computer similar to yours, then buy one of those.

    But depending on what the users are doing, perceptions of "fully compatible" may differ for two users of apparently identical systems. They all read and they all write, but most of the speed increase over mechanical drives is with sustained writes and with start-up time after the drive has been idle. They don't handle deletions the same as mechanical drives. When something is deleted, its block or blocks get marked not to be read, but it takes another command from the operating system (Trim) which will make those blocks usable for new data.

    Current versions of Mac OS execute Trim automatically, but they do it when they want to. Not all of them are smart enough (yet, anyway) to wait until it's really idle time. It essentially inhibits the drive from writing while the trim process is going on so there will be periods where the system almost freezes for long enough to notice in operation. It's probably not of any consequence with Photoshop, but might be an issue with a DAW.

     

    The other thing, and the extent to which this is an issue depends on the memory technology used in the drive, is that they have a finite (though pretty large) number of writes before memory starts failing. And while most, if not all, of the data can be recovered from a failed hard drive (real head crashes are pretty much a thing of the past these days) if it's important enough, SSDs tend to fail catastrophically and no data can be recovered (at least nobody's figured out how yet). So it's one more reason to be more diligent with backups.

    --
    "Today's production equipment is IT-based and cannot be operated without a passing knowledge of computing, although it seems that it can be operated without a passing knowledge of audio." - John Watkinson, Resolution Magazine, October 2006
    Drop by http://mikeriversaudio.wordpress.com now and then

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    • #3

      Using an SSD has given me the biggest performance boost I've seen on a PC in a long, long, time.   The computer I'm using to type this on is using a four-year old SSD.  It may be a hair slower than it was originally, but it's still faster than any Raptor or other platter-style drive I've ever owned.

       

      I'm not an Apple user, so I'm no help with Apple-specific issues.  There are a few issues specific to SSDs at least with PCs.  For example, you're not supposed to defrag them.  But the SSD issues are pretty easily dealt with.  I just poked around websites like Tomshardware.com and found all the guidance I needed and a whole lot more for future reference. 

       

      And SSDs are of course, almost totally quiet.

       

      nat whilk ii

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      • UstadKhanAli
        UstadKhanAli commented
        Editing a comment

        I have also heard that when they fail, they do so catastrophically, gloriously.  

        Other than that and what I wrote, I don't know very much about 'em.


    • #4

      I replaced my Macbook Pro's hard drive not long ago with a SSD. It was easy, I just cloned my drive and installed the SSD. I did have to re-authorize many programs.

       

      One thing I found when I was trying to research the best drive is that various SSD manufacturers don't always provide the same benchmarks. I can't remember everything I read about it, but in addition to the standard "peake data rate", there's also often an "incompressible data rate" that applies to files like MP3's and other stuff that's already compressed. Many SSD's compress data on the fly. You'll also often see "4k read/write" speeds, which if I recall relates more to overall usage speed than the higher peak and sustained rates.

       

      Keep in mind that your Mac Pro has a SATA 2 bus, so you won't get the max speeds of a SATA 3 SSD. My laptop has a SATA 1 bus, so the difference was not huge. Applications do load faster, although the computer does not start faster. There's a particular reason for this someone explained to me and I don't remember now, but I think it has something to do with either the age of my computer or my older OS. I haven't noticed any particular difference in ongoing application function, but I never did tax my drive much when recording since I typically only record 2 tracks at a time.

       

      I went with an OWC model based on their focus on Mac compatibility and their return policy.

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