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Hard drive setup recommendations ?

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pior godlike master sticky
Hey all (hoping to post in the right section this time :P)

So I am building a new rig, almost done. But I am wondering what would be the best hard drive setup for it.

There are a few things I know I want, but some things are still TBD. The plan so far :

- DRIVE1 SSD 120GB OCZ Pixel (solid state)
Primary 'work' OS (XPPro 64, with 6Gigs of ram) and main apps (2D and 3D apps, nothing else)
I also want to store a disc image of that drive somewhere, to be loaded on startup every time to ensure a super clean and stable environment. Or, even if it's not loaded at every boot, at least saving that config somewhere in case something happens.

- DRIVE2 HDD 1TB (platter)
This drive would store : the secondary OS dedicated to gaming (XP home), and all the secondary apps accessed by the primary OS (all the little things : 7Zip, FTP access, all that) This would be partition A.
I also want to store there all the art files I am currently working on partition B.

- DRIVE3 USB HDD 500GB Seagate FreeAgent external (platter)
This one stores all reference material, tutorials, ebooks, movies, music and anything else that I need to carry around and share on other computers. I keep plugging that one in and out. I use it already, working great so far and seems very stable. It basically holds everything that I don't mind loosing :P

- DRIVE4 USB HDD 320GB Seagate FreeAgent external (platter)
I already use that one as a backup for personal art. It is very rarely plugged in or accessed. I just dump all my art folder in it once in a while. It's a very basic manual backup solution but I know I can trust it.

- DRIVE5 is still to be decided (I have 2 300GB SATA leftover drives I can use for that)
This is where I want to have an automatic backup of the whole art folder from drive2B. I want this to be fully transparent, as in, whenever I create a edit a file on 2A, it gets saved on 5 aswell.

This is where I need help! I don't know what to use to keep Drive5 up to date in a transparent manner. Maybe I should use some kind of syching app performing the bakup on startup or shutdown or when the computer is idle? Also I don't know if this should be external or internal. Somehow USB doen't sound very smart for this.

Also do you think that this setup makes any sense at all? Or maybe I am missing on a better solution? Maybe I should use revision control?

Last but not least, considering all the above, what is the best drive to use as a Photoshop scratch disc? I always heard it needs to be a different drive than the one Photoshop is installed on. But maybe SSDs change the problem completely?

(also : no need for music and movie storage on this machine, music all taken care of on my laptop I use as a mediacenter with drive3)

Thanks if you can help!!

Replies

  • Joshua Stubbles
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    Joshua Stubbles polycounter lvl 17
    I'm not sure about anything concerning the data synching or drive5, but it's a general guideline to not have anything on the same drive as your OS. So the SSD would be Windows and only windows (drivers, etc).

    Right now I have an older IDE drive with VistaUltx64 on it, with 2x120 drives in Raid0 split into 3 partitions - work, apps, games. I also have an external USB backup that I use for 1-touch backups of my work & various folders, which I then burn to DVD for archive every month.
  • killingpeople
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    killingpeople polycounter lvl 14
    oh god i'm so jealous... i have such a shit setup /cry
  • Marine
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    Marine polycounter lvl 17
  • pior
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    pior godlike master sticky
    Hehey yeah I remember that vid :P I'd be happy with 1/24th of that!!

    So Vasago, when you say OS/Windows only, what do you do about c:/Program Files? Do you keep it empty and put every program on another drive? Because one of the point of the SSD is that it'd loads .exe super fast...

    It's all new and a bit confusing!

    KP, I had a shitmachine for too long too :P
  • Joshua Stubbles
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    Joshua Stubbles polycounter lvl 17
    Prior, it's mainly about keeping Windows running as fast as possible, as long as possible. When you install/uninstall apps onto the windows drive, it fragments data, leaves data behind, etc. After time that just slows things down (regardless of defragging). I reformat at least twice a year to keep things moving fast, due to this. With SSD being so fast, that might not be an issue at all.

    I wish it wasn't so farken expensive though :D
  • Mark Dygert
    Also be mindful of what you keep dumping on the desktop as that normally resides on the C:\ drive also. If you're the type to dump all kinds of temp files and downloads there it might be a good time to break that habit and move it to that kind of stuff to another folder.

    I think you're safe to stick most of your major apps on SDD. Since most of them would require a reinstall if the OS is reinstalled. Photoshop and mudbox might be the only two that don't require a reinstall after the OS changes.

    It will be interesting to see how photoshop handles being on the same drive and dealing with SSD. Maybe stick it on one of the platter drives, and have the scratch set to the SSD. Probaly won't matter and putting it all on the same SSD drive will be fine.

    That video is nuts...
  • Lamont
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    Lamont polycounter lvl 13
    You can remap your "My Documents" to another drive.

    SSD bang for buck isn't there just yet. Buy some Velociraptor SATA's and run it in raid. You can get 1.5TB HDD's for about $100~$130. SSD don't get fragmented. Get rid of those tiny (small capacity) drives, save some space and reduce heat.

    Also, SSD apparently have performance degridation issues. I read two articles, one on Slashdot and another one somewhere else. Prolly HardOCP.
  • bearkub
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    bearkub polycounter lvl 13
    I agree with Lamont here. SSD just isn't there yet in a practical way, yet. It's pretty expensive for small amounts of storage (last I looked, mind you...) and you can get massive amounts of space that is nice and speedy both reading and writing on platters for a good price.

    Another good drive solution to fit your needs may be something like 2 internal HDDs (one for the OS's and one for storage/etc) and then they now make enclosures that are small drive arrays. I used one at work that would hold 4 1-tb drives that you could either use each drive independently or RAID them all together and make one nice mirrored drive. You could then also drop whatever data you have on those 2 external USB drives on the small array and use the 2 smaller USB drives for archiving purposes.
  • diminished_Self
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    diminished_Self polycounter lvl 12
    or you could pick up one of these bad boys:
    http://www.thinkgeek.com/computing/usb-gadgets/a7ea/

    and just swap out whatever harddrive you need at that moment. very handy if, like me, you have random old harddrives sitting around doing nothing.
  • thomasp
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    thomasp quad damage
    Vassago wrote: »
    I'm not sure about anything concerning the data synching or drive5, but it's a general guideline to not have anything on the same drive as your OS. So the SSD would be Windows and only windows (drivers, etc).

    is it possible then to remap the "program files" directory to another drive without breaking things? i seem to remember some apps which dump stuff in there without asking.
    btw. why, why, why on earth did they choose a foldername with a space in it?! that one causes fun with some programs, not the least softimage...

    i'd be interested to hear about a practical sync-/backup-solution, too. all i could think of so far is to run SVN, perforce or similar as an art-database to make this insta-backup useable.
  • oXYnary
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    oXYnary polycounter lvl 17
    To a point. Its more like some programs assume to install on the main OS drive. That don't give you a choice to install elsewhere.

    I have different partitions for my work programs and game programs to lower fragmentation so no worries about windows reinstall so quickly.

    I rather have ssd and quiet performance than a velociraptor.
  • cptincognito
    Can't remember off the top of my head where it is, but windows has some internal settings that are helpful for defaulting Program files/temp folders etc off a non C drive. A while back I set up boot camp on my macbook with far too small a partition (2GB for XP), and running as much as possible from an external drive.

    SSD sounds nice for OS/APPS/SCRATCH, but I recommend getting a RAID1 setup for your work. You're never as good as you think you are about backups- and when hard drives fail, tears are shed. Get an external enclosure that allows you to swap out a drive and automatically mirror in a fresh one. Hard drives are cheap, have 3 or 4 that you cycle through every couple weeks. Test whatever solution you end up with BEFORE you put a bunch of valuable stuff on it.

    I know people that are happy with these, but there may be more economical solutions out there.
  • Thegodzero
    Yeah ids say a (32GB?) SSD drive for the OS, then two 1/1.5TB drives in raid1 should do you good. Then once a year pull out/replace one of the 1/1.5TB drives as a dated backup.

    That's my plan at least.

    BTW do people still partition drives these days?
  • Lamont
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    Lamont polycounter lvl 13
    oXYnary wrote: »
    I rather have ssd and quiet performance than a velociraptor.
    Yeah, I almost went that route too with my current build: Have my C partition 360GB SSD and two 1.5TB SATA HDD's. My computer is 18 inches from my face and all I can hear are the fans on the videocard. If sound really is your problem, spend the $$ on a good case and good HDD mounts.

    SSD's for main stream computer use, I'd wait a year for the cost to go down and the capacity to go WAY up. Intel is going to be dropping the prices and increasing the capacity of their SSD's.
  • pior
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    pior godlike master sticky
    Hey lots of great points!!! Thanks a ton for the advice so far.

    Yeah BK and Lamont I must admit I am a bit nervous about trying out SSDs, first/second gen stuff just cannot be 100% reliable. However it was recommended by my IT guy ... so I thought, since this is is just the OS drive and I plan to have a rather definite drive image anyways, I might aswell try that. The one I got is 120GB and its form factor is much smaller than the one showed in that 24 drives promotional video.

    About the art/backup drives. CTP, I'm glad you mentioned RAID because I never gave it much thought really. I remember it from ages ago when my computer-obsessed buddy told me he was setting on up, and it seemed expensive, tricky and risky (thinking that the whole comp wouldnt start if one drive fails). But now I understand it is becoming a cheap, and safe solution providing instant backup.

    About the enclosure. Isn't it weird to have one of the RAID drives in a USB box like that? I always believed SATA to be way faster than anything USB. Wouldn't this slow down the write? OR maybe one drive gets written, and then the other starts spinning in the background?

    Also, do RAID drives have to be EXACTLY similar? Can one use different makes and different storage capacity? Let's say I setup a RAID ... and after 6 months I decide to swap out one drive for backup, and need to put a new one in. I suspect that after a few years the original model would be unavailable? Or maybe I should work with a specific type of drive for a few years, then upgrade the whole couple altogether?

    And I don't know what to think about the RAID drives being accessed all the time ... and being used as a backup after 6 months aswell. Aren't "one time" copies safer? What about online services?

    So many questions!
  • pior
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    pior godlike master sticky
    OH I think I got it about the RAID setup. Maybe you guys are saying :

    2 drives always running, exactly the same specs (lets call them the live drives - inside the tower, not USB)
    and after 6 months of work, I just take whatever brand new drive I have at hand (lets call it the static drive) , plug it as yet another drive (USB enclosure), and just copy the content of the live drives to it? Then unplug, and just keep working for 6 months until I buy another 'static' drive for the next backup?
  • oXYnary
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    oXYnary polycounter lvl 17
    Are you you saying you want to do a usb raid? Why bother? The bus would limit any advantage it has. Do a Esata raid (e=external).

    There are different types of raids. Some you dont need the exact same capacity. Some you do, and some will (in mirror) use the drive with the lowest capacity.

    Here is the wiki.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Standard_RAID_levels

    Lamont.. the thing is.. Who needs 1+terabytes of space? Are you doing a movie editing without any compression? Seriously. All this excess space for what? Do we really need work from 10 years ago? Or 300 version progress saves of something thats finished?
  • cptincognito
    That drive has firewire 800- but there's other solutions that have eSATA as well.

    Raid archiving is simpler than that- you have two identical drives in the external enclosure, every write to the raid volume happens to both disks. See how the enclosure i linked to has the two drives visible on the front? you can actually slide one drive out, slide a third (blank) drive in its place, and all your files get mirrored into the fresh drive. You then take the drive you pulled out and put it on a shelf for safe keeping.

    I've worked with server raid setups that were hot-swappable, which is cool. One drive gets hosed, you pull it out and put a fresh one in while the machine is still reading and writing away!

    I don't think it's necessary to use the same exact drive- you definitely need the same speed and probably the same size/cache. That's part of the value of that off-the shelf system, they figure it out for you.

    One thing to watch out for (less with RAID1 mirrored) is that in older systems the drives were sometimes formatted specifically for the hardware raid controller. So in order to recover data from a hard drive, it needs to be hooked up to that specific model RAID enclosure/PCI card.
  • Lamont
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    Lamont polycounter lvl 13
    oXYnary wrote: »
    Lamont.. the thing is.. Who needs 1+terabytes of space? Are you doing a movie editing without any compression? Seriously. All this excess space for what? Do we really need work from 10 years ago? Or 300 version progress saves of something thats finished?
    Yes. Trade show videos, and sales videos. 5 minutes of uncompressed footage is like 16 gigs for 720p. These videos are up to 20 minutes long for some products. The raw data is huge too. Sometimes I have to output in multiple resolutions. I have no clue how much data is on a HDD when someone sends it to me.

    My work drive isn't just a bunch of 3D files, it has photography. I shoot raw and fast, so each photo shoot is like 8gigs (about 2.5 hours). Private photoshoots go to the owner. So it's not there long. Then there's the print work for whoever, my own personal photography, websites, compiled apps... a lot of stuff. A few digital paintings and video lessons. I crank out a couple 1080p timelapse vids a year... not much. A few ZBrush scenes can be 100mb, and doing revisions while you work can be huge.

    When I save stuff I save things that are worth saving. I don't save revisions when I back up. I don't save render caches, no frames from animations, no compiled video files. If I need it again, I have that scene/project ready to render again. The disk space I have is very practical.
  • pior
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    pior godlike master sticky
    Well I dont do much weddings videos nor gigabytes photokillings hehe
    Ok so RAID seems just as complex as I remembered it ! It's all getting a bit too technical for me...
  • Lamont
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    Lamont polycounter lvl 13
    Raids are more easy to set up now as pretty decent raid controllers are offered on most mobo's out there. As for raid with different drive sizes, you can always partition them to make them all the same size. But this depends on the type of controller.
  • |Buddy|
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    |Buddy| polycounter lvl 11
    You put 2 drives into Raid 1 array (copy of the exact same data on both drives in array) and:

    -one damages- your data is cool and everything works
    -you can plug one out and copy data from it
    -you can swap one of the drives with different brand hdd with the same capacity and it will reconstruct the array (another way of backing up)

    Its recommended that you use the same brand though, however even after a year i had no problems in buying exactly same pair of drives ( for new raid array ), especially when you get the newer/faster/more expensive ones.

    -OS is not really slow on Raid1 array, i used to have OS on Raid 0, now its on Raid 1 and stuff works very fast actually. But if you can afford SSD drive then put your OS on that.

    The external hdd's you picked are good, i use 500gb freeagent as a additional backup and it works pretty nicely (e-sata is mad fast).

    Worth noting, as long as you have decent motherboard (i'm on asus p5q-e, was on asus commando) you don't really need dedicated Raid controller, when my first mother board broke down i just had to buy a new one with the same controller (or newer of the same type, there was plenty of those). But if you dont want to risk having to get a new mobo with some sort of restrictions then get a dedicated raid controller. Having said that though, i'm using the motherboard one and i'm pretty happy.

    This applies to raid 0 (and the more complex ones) rather than to raid 1 though (which wont break down if the controller burns anyway).

    I use 1tb in Raid 0 for some storage and PS swap/virtual memory, works pretty nice, if you can afford SSD for swap purposes it would be propably faster.

    edit: worth noting is that you should do all your raid setup hardware-wise (bios etc), software solutions suck major cockerson - my opinion though.
  • Lamont
  • sir-knight
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    sir-knight polycounter lvl 10
    I use a thermaltake max4 SATA hotswap bay for a 1TB drive (soon to be multiple as more are needed) It's getting kinda hard to fill a 1TB drive with just anime... I have something like 50 series on the damn thing after going through both my 250 cd binders full of CDs and DVDs for stuff to keep/archive and I'm still only at about 450gb used.

    I might just go ahead and pull the trigger on a cheap 500 gb to more all my art reference to and retire my IDE drives... I currently still have 1 IDE drive in my new system waiting to be replaced.

    A revision control system would be extremely useful... especially something that backs up your work drives maybe on a once a week basis, something like SVN would be perfect to do this with once a week and keep writes/plugged in times to a minimum (you plug in the backup drive once a week and it does it's magic, and then you pull it out, this was my reason for the MAX4 bay)

    At any given time I don't need access to all the data I have on my multiple drives, so not having them plugged in and powered (resulting in potential drive failure) is a good thing.

    The hotswap bay has really negated my need for a 3.5" mobile drive for storage... for mobility I can easily use a 2.5" external or even a USB key, as they are tiny now and the same size as my mobile 2.5. The only thing I don't like about the hotswap bay is that the drives go in naked, so you have to make sure you don't touch the circuit boards on the drives as they will corrode eventually from your oily paws.

    But I figure with 3 or 4 hotswap drives I should have all my data backed up properly and distributed in case of loss.
  • pior
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    pior godlike master sticky
    hey guys,

    so I just got an early setup running - still don't know about raiding the whole thing, so I went basic for now. XPpro on the SSD, XPhome on a 300GB partition of the platter, and 700GB for art stuff. Still have to figure out the backup side of things, even considering online backup actually...

    On a side note - I don't know if the SSD is responsible for that but I just tested mudbox, still sculpting butter smooth at ... 36 984 506 polygons. Thats 36 millions haha. I think thats enough! (and then the ram caps hehe)

    So silent too!
  • Thegodzero
  • pior
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    pior godlike master sticky
    6 gigs was all I could fit inside my budget!
    But the mobo has 6 slots so I might switch to 12 eventually!
  • Thegodzero
    Nice, that's what i was planing on going for.

    Care to give the rest of the specs?
  • pior
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    pior godlike master sticky
    Case : Antec P182
    CPU : Intel Core i7 920
    Mobo : Asus P6T
    Ram : G.Skill DDR3-1600 6GB
    HD1 : 120GB OCZ Pixel SSD
    HD2 : Western Digital 1TB HDD
    Optical : DVD-R Samsung 22x
    VIdcard : 9800GT
    PSU I don't have the reference for it anymore, but it's one of the modular ones with fancy cables. I think it's a 530V.
  • Thegodzero
    Everything looks the same as what I'm planing on building spec wise, other than the 9800gt. So why a 9800gt? Why not a GTX200 series card?
  • pior
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    pior godlike master sticky
    Because games suck but Mudbox rules haha
    (aka : cheap)
  • pior
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    pior godlike master sticky
  • EarthQuake
    honestly that 9800 with burn through any game you have, with the i7 and fast ram etc.

    I think i'll end up building a very similar setup in a year or two when i feel the need =)
  • Lamont
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    Lamont polycounter lvl 13
    In a year or two, you might be able to do a full SSD machine. Not gonna do SSD till the prices and capacity get to a good point.
  • pior
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    pior godlike master sticky
    Well Lamont if I understand correctly SSDs are good and fast for reading but not so good for writing. So I think it is safe to have all the apps running from it, but the data actually stored to a nice regular platter HD.

    I am currently trying to put all i need on the SSD ... and then plan to freeze it using DeepFreeze, to basically never really touch it again.

    Fun, but boring to setup all this haha. Here went my 3 days weekend hehe
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