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Thread: External vs Internal HD

  1. #1
    Super Moderator Kayaker72's Avatar
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    External vs Internal HD

    So, I built my computer with guidance from this website in 2011. I have upgraded different components here or there. Overall, it is still performing well, but I am just about out of HD space. I recently consulted my technically inclined nephews (I am getting old) regarding whether it was time to upgrade my entire computer or just add more memory and their thought was to wait another year or two as DDR5 comes out more completely and pricing come down on NVMe memory.

    Assuming I stay with my current computer, the question gets to be how to expand my memory. I just checked and the 4 bays for HDs are filled (3 HDs and 1 SSD). The computer only has two USB 3.0 (yep, so old they still called it USB 3.0) connections. I tend to use 300-500 GB of memory per year for photos.

    So, I am considering the following:
    1. Go to an external HD for my photos for 2021+ (until I get a new computer)
    2. Go to an external SSD (I am thinking the speed will only be marginally better as the USB 3.0 is likely limiting to ~500 MB/sec)
    3. Buy a large new HD and transfer information from one or more of the existing HDs over to it (~4 TB between the three). So I could do a WD Black 6 TB and still have a couple of years worth of room on it.
    4. Replace my existing 256 GB SSD (currently used for software, but getting maxed out) with a new 2 TB SSD, run software and 2021+ memory off of it. Biggest issue where is I would likely need to re-set up the Windows environment. While that could be a good thing, it would take up some time.


    I have a dedicated external HD already that is my real-time back up. My other USB 3.0 port is dedicated to my card reader, but I figure I could get a USB hub and run my backup and card reader off it and have a dedicated port for the external drive I would be working off of.

    As I sit here, I am liking option 2. Minimal work, perhaps slightly faster speeds and when I travel, I could also take it with me knowing that if I lost it somehow, I would still have the backup on my external HD.

    Thoughts?

  2. #2
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    You have too much data to make SSD viable. You need cheap long term storage, so I would suggest 1 and 3. Get a large external drive. Copy the contents of the 3 internal drives to it. Replace the 3 internal drives with a second large drive. Copy the data from the external drive to the new internal drive.

    Why two drives? The external can act as a backup. Use your internal as you normally do. Every now and then (or each time you get new images, if you're that dedicated) copy the new folders to the external drive. Keep the external away from the PC normally. Now, in the case of computer theft, ransomware attack, dead hard drive, etc, you're safe. Keep the external off-site and you're protected for fires and floods too.

    If/when fill this larger drive, you have 2 free drive bays to add even more storage.

    (I say this, and *nearly* follow this advice... but I just attached a "ProBox" 4 bay external box to my Mac. Two bays have old drives from my PC. New photos go on internal drive. Every now and then, I copy the new internal drive contents to a large disk in bay 3, and a backup copy in bay 4. They're always attached, so I'm really only protected from drive failure, but I've had enough drive failures that it's my main concern).
    Last edited by DavidEccleston; 12-19-2020 at 08:02 PM.
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  3. #3
    Senior Member clemmb's Avatar
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    I got one of these a year ago. I am amazed how fast it is.
    https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/produ...table_ssd.html
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  4. #4
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    I have four or five externals laying around the house and two at work. I also have an old MAC Pro that is going on 12 years now with three hard drives I use for storage. It hasn't failed me yet.
    External storage is cheap and it is slow with even the newest USB. If storage and backup is the goal the USB I find to be ok. I bought a a 4tb external not long ago and loaded everything on it. They are little towers and I knocked it over on its side and it died. If you go that route be sure and get two and duplicate.
    The real question is do you want to work with those files or are you just storing. Externals are just to slow to work from. An internal may be quicker.
    But I know the MAC Pro at its age it would be very slow if working between two internal drives.
    My ASUS ROG I bought last year is very seamless between the two internal drives. Using a USB it still is to slow and I use an external for additional backup.

    From my perspective I do not like your Nephews advice. I would be looking to upgrade, after all you are on year 9. You were probably storing and manipulating files from the 7D or the 5D II in 2011. For now get an external, when you upgrade you can use the external to put everything on the new machine.

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    Super Moderator Kayaker72's Avatar
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    Thanks everyone...

    Just to add, my back up system is to have an active back up to a external HD. Actually, as we speak, a new WD My Book is humming as it backs up my different hard drives. I then have various "My Passport" external hard drives. A couple just lying around, but, more importantly, two that I keep offsite that I update periodically. I know some people back up to the cloud, but I prefer to have physical hard drives.

    What I am trying to do is decide where to store photos that I am actively working on as my current hard drive (from 2016) is full. I do not have to move the information off my current hard drives. But, you make a good point, two of those hard drives are from 2011 and the other is from 2016. No failures yet, but....

    Quote Originally Posted by HDNitehawk View Post
    From my perspective I do not like your Nephews advice. I would be looking to upgrade, after all you are on year 9. You were probably storing and manipulating files from the 7D or the 5D II in 2011. For now get an external, when you upgrade you can use the external to put everything on the new machine.
    Yep, when I built this computer I was shooting the 7D. As for the new computer, it is just a matter of when. I have been making upgrades to this computer over the years. As it currently stands, 32 GB of DDR3 1666 RAM, AMD 8 core 4 GHz processor, GeForce 1050i video card, etc. And it works very well. But, I will want to upgrade before it starts having issues and newer faster is out there.

    Thanks for the help.
    Last edited by Kayaker72; 12-19-2020 at 11:32 PM.

  6. #6
    Super Moderator Kayaker72's Avatar
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    An update here, but I have been doing #2 with an external SSD. As I already owned a 1 TB external SSD, it was a cheap and easy way to test an option. I have come across a few reviews online that do advise against using external SSDs as your primary work storage, and it has been working....but....

    A sign of an older machine, my 256 GB SSD is filling up and my CPU is revving up all the time. I've tried identifying programs using the most CPU and, ironically, it seems to be WD software. I cleared those programs, but it is still happening. This made me look pretty hard at building a new desktop, but...pandemic...most reasonable to good GPUs and the higher end CPUs are out of stock. I could get a good CPU, but not the CPUs I would necessarily have targeted (I did find a mid level Ryzen 7 and Ryzen 5s, but, looking at speed tests, if I am going to build a machine again I would probably want a higher level Ryzen 7 or 9).

    To shorten what really is a long story, next I am going to do something along the lines that David recommended, buy a new SSD for software and my current year of photos and then a single large HDD to store everything else. Of course, I will keep the external HD as a back up and create backups that are offsite.


    The longer story...looking into it and modern laptops out perform my older desktop despite the updates I have made over the years. I was actively considering replacing my desktop with a laptop to the point where it made my Christmas list (we had a delayed Christmas as my wife had COVID over the holidays). And, low and behold, a version of what I requested ended up under the Christmas tree and I am now the proud owner of an Asus ROG Zephyrus R14.

    Why do I still need a desktop? As I discussed replacing the desktop with my new laptop I learned that the desktop was the family computer (she primarily uses a Microsoft Surface) and she wanted access to it when I start traveling again. So, a desktop stays.

    Next item, it sure seems like there are some shenanigans out there right now on Amazon and laptops. On my Christmas list, I provided minimum specs like a 1 TB or greater SSD and 16 GB or greater RAM that would result in a mid- to upper level model of the laptop. Well, all the specs are correct, but it looks like a 3rd party company (Amazing TopDeal) bought the lower end Zephyrus G14 and swapped in a new SSD and RAM because the actual model number for the laptop I have should have 512 TB SSD and 8 GB RAM. While the swapped out components are working great, what was lost with this swap out including this unit having the Ryzen 7, lower level GPU (RTX 1650) and the lower end display vs a Ryzen 9, RTX 2060 and a higher end display. It is still a really nice computer. The Ryzen 7 is actually just fine and the display is still an IPS unit...just not as nice as the higher end models. As for the GPU, I would like the ability to do 4k videos even though I shoot FHD videos usually and only sometimes edit them.

    Just getting the warning out there about the 3rd party sellers on Amazon.

    But, for fun, this led me to do some benchmarking of my new laptop vs my older desktop. In general, looking at userbenchmark for each machine, PassMark and BenchMark 20 comparisons, I am thinking:

    CPU. Even though my older AMD FX-8350 is 4.0 GHz, and the newer AMD Ryzen 7 4800HS is base clock of 2.9 GHz, the newer Ryzen single core performance is ~1.7-2x faster than the FX-8350. Multi-core performance it is ~3x faster. Then, looking at benchmarks for current desktops, single core performance is ~2.5-3x faster and multi-core performance is 7-9x faster (not including "enterprise" level CPUs like a AMD Threadripper). This is assuming I can convert points or score to speed, but I saw where others were doing this, so I am going with it.

    GPU. Even the new base level GPU is still a bit faster than my "old" GPU. I quote the "old" as I updated it ~3-4 years ago when I updated my monitor. But the RTX 1050ti is just a bit slower than the RTX 1650 mobile in the new laptop. Newer high end GPUs seem to be 2-4x faster than either. I doubt I need an elite GPU, but I would want a good one.

    RAM. DDR4 3200 on the new laptop checked in at 30.7 to 36 GB/sec in tests. The DDR3 1666 sticks on my current desktop checked in at 14.3-16.9 GB/sec. So the new RAM is ~2x faster. It was nice to see the 3200/1666 ratings actually did correspond to measured speed quite well. LR is taxing the 16 GB RAM in the laptop, using ~85-90%.

    SSD: The M.2 PCIe SSD on the Asus checked in at 1.1 to 1.5 GB/sec (1,350 MB/sec avg). On my desktop the SDD was 250 MB/sec, the two WD Black HDs from 2010 were 72 and 94 MB/sec and WD Black from 2013 was 75 MB/sec.

    In terms of my use, which has been primarily LR. The speed difference is noticeable. Scrolling images, there is still a slight delay, but the images are rendered as sharp much faster. Then, editing changes are now essentially instantaneous vs a slight lag. I am still deciding my new work flow, but for large sets of images, I can easily see culling them on the laptop before doing final edits on the desktop with the benefit of the much larger and higher end screen.

    Looking at the DDR4 vs DDR5 for RAM, the projections I saw that DDR5 might start being released later in 2021, but wider market acceptance really wasn't projected until 2022 or even 2023. It seems like DDR5 will approximately double the RAM speed and also increase capacity.

    But, without a GPU really available, I will make a few last tweaks to my current desktop and let it go for another little while. I can see building a new desktop as soon as the GPUs/CPUs I would want are available.
    Last edited by Kayaker72; 02-13-2021 at 06:32 PM.

  7. #7
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    "Just getting the warning out there about the 3rd party sellers on Amazon."
    When I bought my ASUS GL12CX a bit over a year ago I bought it from the ASUS store. Everything I was finding online at stores were older models, over priced or rip-offs. Many models they do not sell at their store.

    On your model when your looking at ASUS website and you click on the "where to buy" button, only Best Buy comes up.

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