View Full Version : New Mac Pro drive set-up

12-27-2007, 09:26 PM
In a couple of weeks I'll be getting a new Mac Pro. Not sure yet whether it will be a new Penryn model (if there is one by then) or a refurbed or used Woodcrest. I'm an advanced amateur photographer and I use Photoshop CS3 & Adobe Lightroom to process files in the 10 - 75 MB range. No 3D, gaming or video work at all. I should say, however, that I'm a bit of a speed demon!

I currently have a 750 SE2 and 74 GB Raptor in a G5 dual-core. I'd like to keep these drives and use them as the basis of a new configuration in the Mac Pro. I will also have 9 GB of RAM in the new machine, which should speed things up considerably in Photoshop.

I was thinking of the following configuration:
Drive A (750 SE2): boot drive with system & apps
Drive B (750 SE2): file drive with user directory & images
Drive C (750 SE2): Time Machine backup drive for A & B
Drive D (74G Raptor): Photoshop scratch

...but I'm sure you will have a better idea for how to maximize performance and utilize the drive space, perhaps using partitions and RAID 0.

I am grateful for your help!

12-28-2007, 09:36 AM
Sounds like fun. Congrats on getting into a new machine here is the near future. A couple thoughts...

Time Machine is a storage hog. You will find it uses a lot more space than the drive(s) it is used to backup. For instance, one of our servers has accounting data only on it. Those files and the OS+apps are all that are on it and comprise a grand total of 20 GB of hard drive space. The Time Machine backup, running for a month or so is over 25 GB is size. You will need a LOT more space if you use Time Machine for photo storage. As you have it set up you are not going to be happy for very long since you will start out overflowing the TM drive.

The new Seagate 7200.11 drives seriously kick SE drives in speed. Kick butt on nearly every drive. Might be a better choice for any drives you have to purchase. Nothing wrong with the SEs, a little slower and MacGurus doesn't sell em, so that makes em bad :D

I like a setup where I back up across big drives. For instance my MacPro is setup this way using 500 GB drives:
Drive one
OS on first 100 GB partition
backup drive 2 on second partition

Drive 2
User directory on first 400 GB partition
Backup Drive 1 on second 100 GB partition

Drive 3 and 4
Raptor RAID for scratch

Then I put all my photos on an external enclosure with a second backup drive for every data drive.</UL>

Mind you, there is no right or wrong way and there certainly isn't ONE way that works for everyone. Every user has different needs and ways of making a system that works for them. I like my data external for quite a few reasons:

1) A Burly maintains more stable temperatures and power than any other environment for a drive. This is especially true of inside a MacPro as the drive bays have wild drive temperature fluctuations over time. Temperature and power variations are what kill hard drives. And hard drives are storing the only thing that is irreplaceable on a computer, your data.

2) I like a data drive right alongside a simple backup drive. I won't use Time Machine for photos databases cause it eats way too much space and Time Machine is a proprietary database. You can't tell if it gets screwed up until you need it one day. So I still use SyncProX for making my backups and only use Time Machine for OS and User Directory stuff like email and the like where the TIme Machine backup is the third layer. I don't bother with Time Machine for Photos at all.

3)External storage gives me expansion capabilities and migration ability not shared when the drives are inside the computer. It is really easy to set a backup aside, install a bigger drive or a couple drives in a RAID, move into it and grow my photo library. Much harder when inside the computer.

Anyway, tis fun planning the move. Did you see the Guide to building a photo data base (http://www.macgurus.com/productpages/guides/PhotoStorage.php)?


12-28-2007, 10:07 AM
Thanks a lot for your reply, ricks. I probably should have mentioned that cost is definitely an object here. I'm stretching a bit already for the new system, so I don't anticipate being able to afford more than 2-3 new drives - maximum. An external enclosure full of drives is out of my reach right now, though it's certainly a possibility for the future.

So I need to come up with an approach that works for me now, but can evolve as I add new drives. I completely agree with you regarding Time Machine and image backup; this is especially true for me since I use Adobe Lightroom, which is not compatible with Time Machine. Currently I have TM backing up my system and user directory, but the Lightroom database is excluded.

Perhaps something like this might work?

Drive A, 60 GB partition: system & apps
Drive A, 600+ GB partition: backup of drive B & C

Drive B & C (striped RAID): user directory & image files

Drive D, 60 GB partition: Photoshop scratch
Drive D, 600+ GB partition: TM backup of drive A

External FW1: bootable clone of drive A
External FW2: 2nd backup of drive B & C

Questions/comment I have about this setup:
1. Is 60 GB really enough for system & apps with Leopard?
2. If drive A goes down, I lose my bootable system and my backup of the RAID. I guess this is okay as long as I have the two FW backups as well.
3. Seems a waste to use a 600 GB partition (Drive D) to backup a 60 GB partition (Drive A)
4. Since I'll have 9 GB of RAM and plan to use the "ForceVMBuffering" plug-in, will 60 GB be enough for PS scratch?

Thanks again for your thoughts!

P.S. Why don't you sell the Seagate 1TB drives?

12-28-2007, 10:59 AM
We sell a gazzillion of the Seagate 1 TB drives. They kick ass, seriously. And the 500s are even a teensy bit faster. Which surprised the hell out of me. I thought the bigger drive would have to be mechanically faster, the 500 is about 1% faster than the 1TB and the 750 is about in the middle between them.

Make your OS partition 100 GB. You need some room there for system swap files. This is the main reason I now stick with a bigger OS volume - all those updaters and whatnot that are constantly coming in, along with the UNIX ability to auto defrag system files you need some room to work in. I used to run in smaller spaces, like 30 or 40 GB, opening it up with unused space made things noticably faster.

Your system will work. Maybe better than mine. The main thing is having a sensible plan. Yours will work perfectly and you know what it will take to ensure backup, the real important part of the plan.


12-28-2007, 11:35 AM
Thanks for the vote of confidence! Actually, upon further reflection I'm not even sure I need to use TM at all. As pointed out it doesn't work with images in a Lightroom database. If I have a nightly backup routine where I'm cloning my system & apps drive and backing up my images, I think TM may actually be redundant. I'm not a pro and if I happened to lose a day's worth of images, it wouldn't be the end of the world. Also, I could establish a routine where I back up my image library after every import.

If I don't use TM, that frees up an internal drive or partition for a cloned system or image backup, and it means one less new drive I have to buy for now (which is good).

One last question: let's assume I use a Seagate 1TB drive as start-up with system and apps. If I then partition 100 GB on another 1TB drive for Photoshop scratch (using the remaining 800+ GB for backup) will that be fast enough, and large enough, for PS scratch?

Thanks again for all of your help.

12-28-2007, 12:27 PM
That would work. Unless you are crunching some enormous pictures 100 Gb is plenty. And nice part is that is you don't like the setup you can easily reformat it different since the second half is only backup.

I like saving money. And making it simple.