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External Hard Drive question


NateGerber

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Hi All!

This is my first time posting on this forum, and I have to say, this place rocks, I've learned SO much here. Huge thanks and props to the kind chaps who are consistently helping others out.

 

So here's my little situation:

 

I'm running LP8 and Komplete 5 on a MBP and I have 2 external HDs (500g and 750g/FW 800 daisy chained).

 

I have conceived of two storage schemes for my externals, and I need some advice to figure out which one is more efficient for the software. In both schemes all software is running on the internal system drive.

 

First scheme: Separate streaming/writing + Cross backup

 

>HD1: 500g (Writing+Backup)

-Partitions: Projects/Sample Library Backup

>HD2: 750g (Streaming+Backup)

-Partitions: Sample Library/Project Backup/System Backup

 

Second scheme: Joint Streaming/Writing + Dedicated Backup

 

>HD1: 500g

- partitions: projects/sample library

>HD2: 750g backup drive

- partitions: system/sample library/projects

 

 

I’m currently using the first scheme with the thought that it makes sense to keep my sample libraries streaming from a separate drive than the drive that I’m writing my project to. The cross backup is just a subsequent reality.

 

But now I’m tempted to move over to the second scheme as it means that I can travel to sessions with just one external HD and do all my backup routines when I get home at night (a frequent reality)... its also less setup.

 

If I do switch over will I be taking a performance/stability hit?

 

Any advice would be appreciated! thanks!

Nate

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what are you using for MIDI/Audio interface?

 

I'm not a huge fan of doing ANYTHING on my 'record' drive, other than recording..

 

are you running both drives off the FW400 or 800 on the MBP?

 

I think I'd keep one drive specifically for recording, and the other drive for everything else...

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I had a feeling you would reply to my question! lol

 

I'm generally using the Motu ultralight for recording (its plugged into my FW 400 slot)

 

as for the drives, the 750g is a tornado drive from Other World Computing, and the 500g is a Gdrive from Gtech. both are pretty fast.. both are FW 800 (I could plug them into the 400 slot if I wanted to... but I don't really)

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hahah :)

 

lord knows ya got plenty of hard drive space. How much audio are you recording??? Do you archive to DVD when you're all done? How much other loops/samples, etc. do you plan on loading?

 

I'd probably use the 500 as my record drive, and stick everything else on the other drive. Maybe someone else has a better idea..

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Audio wise: most of the time I don't have too much coming in a/d.. sometimes I'm tracking a rhythm section etc... but usually its just singer songwriters that I'm writing with. In a few months I'll be tracking some larger projects for some short films, they will involve more complicated setups, (multiple interfaces/more outboard gear).

 

Sample wise: I always have a ton of samples and synths going... for almost everything.

----

a third possible solution came to mind - setup everything according to the second scheme, but then switch to streaming my samples from the backup drive whenever I'm working from home base, or if I have a large project happening...

 

it should work, it will just require a little bit of running through my plugs whenever I switch sample library locations... maybe I can use apple's automator to quickly run the process...

----

 

I've also been thinking about offloading all of my LP8 samples to the external drives.. any thoughts about that?

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Unless you need to keep two separate OSes or something like that, modern drives' performance makes partitioning unnecessary. The benefits of establishing two or more volumes on a single drive are easily outweighed by the additional administrative burden you create when those volumes have to be accessed simultaneously. If you've ever transferred data from one partition to another on the same drive, you probably noticed that it takes a great deal longer to do it than to transfer the same data between different physical drives. This administrative burden is why. In most cases overall performance will be better if there's just a single volume on each of your drives, regardless of how you use them.

 

If you take the single-partition route, I suggest you add your samples to the peripheral drive first when you reinstall things. And if you know which samples you're likely to be using more heavily, install those first. The first files installed on a clean drive are stored at the outermost surfaces of the drive's platters, which means those data spin faster than any other locations on the drive, and will therefore be most readily accessible.

 

The idea of having "cross backups" on different drives is sound in theory. The reality of a FW bus, however, is that sustained simultaneous activity on two drives will quickly exceed its practical bandwidth. As your projects become more complex and demanding, your file count and disk fragmentation will increase, and you will almost certainly experience drive access problems. Add an audio interface to that same bus, and you virtually guarantee it. You'd be better off keeping just a single drive connected to the FW bus when you're processing audio. Add the other when you need to backup or transfer data.

 

Assuming your two drives are relatively new and both spin at the same speed, the 750GB drive probably has a bigger cache/buffer than the 500GB drive, in which case its speed and data-carrying capacity will be substantially greater. If this is the case, the larger drive is the better choice for audio as it'll be harder to choke it. If they have the same size buffer, then in terms of practical performance it probably won't matter which one you use. If they spin at different speeds, the obvious choice is the faster one.

 

If you do run into bottlenecks, something you might consider is adding an eSATA card to your machine. A decent external SATA would be faster than a FW800 drive, and the drives are big and (relatively) cheap. Since it would be on a completely separate bus, its activity would have no adverse impact on the FW bus, either.

 

As for moving your LP8 samples, it's unpredictable. It's worked for some people, and failed miserably for others. I have yet to hear a cogent explanation for either outcome. Theoretically speaking, having the samples and app on different drives should give you better performance. Manufacturers other than Apple recommend doing so for that reason. In practice, it appears to be touch-and-go as far as LP8 is concerned.

 

Last, if you haven't already maxed your machine's RAM, do it. There's nothing else you can do for the same money that will give you more performance benefit, regardless of the machine you use.

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You guys are Great!

thanks for all the advice, you brought up some factors I hadn't considered.

 

LP8 samples really are 'touch and go' aren't they!?!? I need to get to the bottom of that one. the documentation suggests using aliases for moving the samples around... I need to better understand exactly how aliases work... eg: can I simply 'alias' the sample folders at the top level, or do I have to manually go through and alias every file? Will I need to remove a pile of 'alias' labels for LP8 to find everything?

 

yea.. definitely something to sort out there...

 

anyway, regarding the backup/partition stuff... I'm thinking I'll leave the 750g partitioned and unpartition the 500g.. that way, I can stream and print off the 500g at a small session, or stream from the 750, and print to the 500g...I'll never need to stream and print from the 750 simultaneously, so as long as my samples are in the first partition of the 750 I'll be good... as for eSata, I may get a port for one of these drives, since the're both compatable... the gain really isn't that much... I had been thinking to save the esata for something else... like another audio interface eventually... we'll see!

 

wow... that was a tongue twister!!

 

so, last question on this topic: do you guys have any recommendations as far as backup software is concerned? I would love to be able to just sync up my main folders with their backups and press "start" before bed each night ;-) lol

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I had a feeling you would reply to my question! lol

 

I'm generally using the Motu ultralight for recording (its plugged into my FW 400 slot)

 

as for the drives, the 750g is a tornado drive from Other World Computing, and the 500g is a Gdrive from Gtech. both are pretty fast.. both are FW 800 (I could plug them into the 400 slot if I wanted to... but I don't really)

 

But it isn't the same thing - as soon as you plug the Ultralight into the 400 port isn't the 800 port drives going to be running at 800 speed.

 

On my MBP, I just skipped the whole FW 800 thing for this reason - taking raw SATA drives and putting them in new Vantec ESATA cases (about $50 each) and getting an ESATA expresscard thus leaving firewire for my audio interface (a Traveler) only.

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dcrigger said:

But it isn't the same thing - as soon as you plug the Ultralight into the 400 port isn't the 800 port drives going to be running at 800 speed.

 

do you mean that with the ultralight plugged in my FW 800 drives are operating at FW 400 speed?

 

yikes... K, I don't know anything about that... but I definitely need to know! any ideas where could I read up on that? I've never heard that before. are the FW 400 and FW 800 inputs both on the same internal bus?

 

My drive cases already have the esata option, so I would simply need to grab an esata express card. not a big deal..

 

but that whole FW 400 FW 800 crossover business.. that doesn't sound right to me...

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dcrigger said:
But it isn't the same thing - as soon as you plug the Ultralight into the 400 port isn't the 800 port drives going to be running at 800 speed.

 

do you mean that with the ultralight plugged in my FW 800 drives are operating at FW 400 speed?

 

yikes... K, I don't know anything about that... but I definitely need to know! any ideas where could I read up on that? I've never heard that before. are the FW 400 and FW 800 inputs both on the same internal bus?

 

My drive cases already have the esata option, so I would simply need to grab an esata express card. not a big deal..

 

but that whole FW 400 FW 800 crossover business.. that doesn't sound right to me...

All FW ports (400 and 800) are on the same bus. Even on a MacPro.

 

And when you have something plugged into the FW400 on a MacBook Pro (at least), the FW800 then runs at FW400 speed. Definitely.

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Ouch! :-)

 

well ESATA here I come...

 

Any recomendations on ESATA Express cards?

I got the Bytecc, and I have been very happy with it. It's the cheapest one I could find online. Two ports. Doesn't say that it works on OSX, just Windows. But it DOES work on OSX, you just have to download the drivers on-line. I googled it, and a bunch of guys on various forums were talking about how they were using it on OSX and all systems were go.

connecting two drives on Esata doesn't introduce any weird bottlenecks does it?

I haven't tried, and I'm not sure. One thing, though, is that you'll need to plug your drive in, as there is no power supplied via the ExpressCard port.

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Ouch! :-)

 

well ESATA here I come...

 

Any recomendations on ESATA Express cards?

 

connecting two drives on Esata doesn't introduce any weird bottlenecks does it?

 

No, there shouldn't be. For the biggest pipeline and room for future expansion, get a 300 mb/s card - with port multiplier cases, you should be able to hook multiple (10-20!!) drives off the card at still blazing speeds. This is supposed to be by far (in actual practice) the fastest, widest path in and out of our MBP's.

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Ouch! :-)

 

well ESATA here I come...

 

Any recomendations on ESATA Express cards?

 

connecting two drives on Esata doesn't introduce any weird bottlenecks does it?

 

No, there shouldn't be. For the biggest pipeline and room for future expansion, get a 300 mb/s card - with port multiplier cases, you should be able to hook multiple (10-20!!) drives off the card at still blazing speeds. This is supposed to be by far (in actual practice) the fastest, widest path in and out of our MBP's.

What he said.

 

Though one small correction: that's actually 3000 mb/s. Some eSATA enclosures go at 3000, some at 1500. For comparison's sake, FW800 is 800, FW400 is 400, and USB2.0 is theoretically capable of 480, but tends to be more like 200.

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Awesome!

thanks guys!

 

Spectactle, I'm assuming that you picked up the bytecc BT-ECES2 ?

I went to their website but I couldn't locate an OSX driver for their express cards. could you PM the url to me? that would be sweet!

I'll just post it here for all to see:

 

http://www.siliconimage.com/support/supportsearchresults.aspx?pid=32&cid=3&ctid=2&osid=3

 

You might also want to check this link to the OWC website, where there's a good looking card for you, all ready to go with OSX:

 

http://eshop.macsales.com/item/Apiotek/EC0003D/

 

Best of luck to you.

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Well!

my bytecc just arrived, and wow... I am DEFINATELY a happy camper over here!!

The added bandwidth was obvious from the first time I pressed play an hour ago... i think that was one of the first times I've ever booted up the laptop, loaded up one of my projects, hit the space bar and played through the whole thing without a 'first play' system overload message... Awesome!

 

I just hope that drivers won't be problem when the inevitable leapard upgrade happens next year sometime...

 

thanks for your help!

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