• Welcome to the Lightroom Queen Forums! We're a friendly bunch, so please feel free to register and join in the conversation. If you're not familiar with forums, you'll find step by step instructions on how to post your first thread under Help at the bottom of the page. You're also welcome to download our free Lightroom Quick Start eBooks and explore our other FAQ resources.
  • Stop struggling with Lightroom! There's no need to spend hours hunting for the answers to your Lightroom Classic questions. All the information you need is in Adobe Lightroom Classic - The Missing FAQ!

    To help you get started, there's a series of easy tutorials to guide you through a simple workflow. As you grow in confidence, the book switches to a conversational FAQ format, so you can quickly find answers to advanced questions. And better still, the eBooks are updated for every release, so it's always up to date.
  • 18 October 2022 It's Lightroom update time again and there's a new AI-based Masking tools and a new Content-Aware Remove Healing tool, as well as smaller features, new cameras, lenses and bug fixes! See this blog post for Lightroom Classic and this blog post for the Lightroom Cloud Ecosystem changes.

HDD or SSD for working drive?

Status
Not open for further replies.
Joined
Jan 4, 2014
Messages
44
Lightroom Experience
Advanced
Lightroom Version
11.4
Operating System
  1. macOS 11 Big Sur
My G-Tech RAID 0 working drive has been doing a great job storing my images since 2014, but it's now showing signs that it could fail. Assuming it's not an electronics issue, I could just replace the two 7200 drives - and have as much storage as I need.

My Lr catalogue and previews already sit on my iMac's SSD, so speed there isn't a problem.

My question is whether putting my RAW files on a big SSD (rather than an HDD) would give me a noticeable speed boost? Not even sure how I would connect the SSD to the Mac to maintain speed levels...

Something tells me that it won't make a difference, but I thought I would check with people here who know better than me how Lr works under the bonnet.

Thanks in advance for your guidance.

Julian
 
Solution
I seriously doubt you would get a "noticeable" speed boost from switching your image library to an external SSD, the only place you might see some gain would be during import when copying from memory card to the external drive (i.e. the write part of the process would be quicker, but that may not amount to much overall). Apart from that, the only time the image files are accessed would be when building previews or exporting, though the CPU processing is the major part of those activities, which makes the read/write speed of the external drive much less significant.
Joined
Feb 1, 2010
Messages
13,847
Location
West Sussex, UK
Lightroom Experience
Advanced
Lightroom Version
Classic
I seriously doubt you would get a "noticeable" speed boost from switching your image library to an external SSD, the only place you might see some gain would be during import when copying from memory card to the external drive (i.e. the write part of the process would be quicker, but that may not amount to much overall). Apart from that, the only time the image files are accessed would be when building previews or exporting, though the CPU processing is the major part of those activities, which makes the read/write speed of the external drive much less significant.
 
Solution
Joined
Jul 11, 2011
Messages
453
Location
San Antonio, TX
Lightroom Experience
Power User
Lightroom Version
Cloud Service
Any SSD is going to smoke any HDD for anything, and certainly for LR. You absolutely will get considerable performance gains with an SSD for data (even if it is a SATA SSD) in LR when compared to any spinning drive.
There is no argument for spinning drives if one can afford to go all-in on SSD, which is doable for everyone at 2 TB and under. The new rule is every computer must have an SSD for the OS and programs, and if the data requirement is less than 2 TB then you get a 2 TB M.s PCIe SSD for your data drive.
The problem now is that if you need to jump to 8TB SSDs (like I do), the cheapest 8TB SATA SSD is 700 bucks and the cheapest M.2 PCIs SSD in 1400 bucks.
But yes, keep yopur eye on SSD prices and go SSD, like we all will anyway eventually. HDDs will be dead unless over 10 TB soon.
Ther point is, absolutely use only SSD for your boot drive and LR cat, and for sure use SSD for your data drive if you images store on less than 2 TB.
Also, RAID is going to be dead. You might want to start weening yourself off it.
 
Joined
Jul 11, 2011
Messages
453
Location
San Antonio, TX
Lightroom Experience
Power User
Lightroom Version
Cloud Service
I read Jim's reply after writing my SSD lecture. I agree on his comment about external SSDs for now (with the LR library module). That whole conversation depends on a lot of other connectivity issues and what desktop or laptop you have, but if we are talking external drives right now I can see his point unless you start getting the latest Thunderbolt 4 connectivity with some fast SSD and NAS systems.
But the bottom line is that switching to SSDs is a no brainer if you can. The problem is 8TB SSDs are expensive, like I said in my comment. 2 TBs are a no-brainer right now. Anyway, go big SSD when you can and get off raid if you can.
 
Joined
Feb 1, 2010
Messages
13,847
Location
West Sussex, UK
Lightroom Experience
Advanced
Lightroom Version
Classic
But the bottom line is that switching to SSDs is a no brainer if you can.
I have to disagree with this statement, and I think it gives the wrong impression to the uninitiated user that they should be placing their image library on the more expensive SSD drives. So the statement needs some qualification. LrC catalog on an SSD? Absolutely if the budget allows. But images? I have seen no evidence that having the images stored on an SSD will significantly boost LrC performance, so don't get carried away with the headline read/write speeds of the comparative devices as they have little significance in terms of how that data is accessed by LrC.

Here's a bit of light reading for you: https://www.computer-darkroom.com/blog/will-an-ssd-improve-adobe-lightroom-performance/
That article is over 10 years old, but the author (Ian Lyons) has reviewed it several times over the intervening years and he maintains his conclusions are still pretty much the same.

To support that, I ran some timing tests this afternoon....running 1:1 preview builds and full resolution exports for 200 30mp files, half edited, half unedited. These tests are about the only way of getting some accurate metrics for comparison purposes. For the first set of tests the 200 images were on one of my external Samsung T7 SSD drives connected to a TB3 port on my Mac Mini M1, and for the second set of tests I switched the location of the images to one of my external USB3 backup drives (GTech 4TB 7200rpm drive). Results:

1. Images on SSD

1:1 Previews were built in 7m 47s
Exports completed in 4m 25s

2. Images on USB3 EHD

1:1 Previews were built in 7m 48s (one second slower overall)
Exports completed in 4m 19s (six seconds faster overall)

I mentioned in my earlier post that the SSD might show some speed advantage when doing imports, i.e. copying to the target drive. So I tested that as well, importing 320 x 45mp files using embedded previews:

Importing to SSD took 3m 05s
Importing to USB3 EHD took 3m 07s (2 seconds slower overall).

So even in that test case there's little advantage is using an SSD for the LrC image library. There may well be other system use cases where an SSD absolutely does merit the additional cost, but within the narrow confines of the original post there would appear to be no advantage at all.
 
Joined
Apr 3, 2012
Messages
1,832
Location
Bay Area, California, USA
Lightroom Experience
Power User
Lightroom Version
Classic
To build on Jim's comments, Puget Systems does regular benchmarking of workstations for LR, and they've also observed that SSDs make at most a small difference in LR performance. The last benchmark article I found is from 2016:
https://www.pugetsystems.com/labs/a...-Storage-Performance-Analysis-875/#Conclusion

but the relative difference in performance between spinning disks and SSDs remains about the same now as then. (Puget Systems is a great resource for choosing LR hardware, even if you don't buy from them.) Their current recommendation (unsupported by recent benchmarks) is:

https://www.pugetsystems.com/recomm...ightroom-Classic-141/Hardware-Recommendations

What storage configuration works best in Lightroom Classic?

While you could get by with just a single drive, we recommend at least a two drive configuration depending on your budget and desired performance level:
  1. Primary Drive - OS/Software (SSD/NVMe) - Includes your operating system and the base Lightroom installation. An SSD is highly recommended as it will greatly improve how fast the OS and programs startup, but you can also upgrade to a faster NVMe drive for a small performance benefit.
  2. Secondary Drive - Project Files (Platter/SSD/NVMe) - If possible, it is a good idea to keep your photos and catalogs on a secondary drive. For most users even a platter drive should be more than fast enough, although a SSD tends to be snappier and will often smooth out your workflow.

As Jim observed, CPU/GPU time dominates the i/o time for rendering raws (for previews or exporting). A 30 megapixel raw is roughly 40 MB, and it takes about 0.4 seconds to read that file into memory from a modern spinning disk. But Jim's measured time per photo for building previews was about 2.3 seconds.

LR uses the multiple cores to make the i/o time insignificant when processing batches of photos. If there are, say, 8 cores, LR will process (say) 12 photos in parallel, so that the CPU/GPUs will be fully utilized and never be waiting for i/o. Switching from a spinning disk (0.4 seconds to read a raw) to an SSD (0.1 seconds to read a raw) won't make any difference, since the limiting factor is the speed and number of CPU/GPUs (which are never waiting for the disk).

With respect to the catalog, as long as your computer has a reasonable amount of memory (e.g. 16 GB), the operating system will end up caching the catalog database in memory, so the perceived differences between disks and SSDs is minimized. For batch updates to large numbers of photos (e.g. metadata updates), the catalog database will perform the update as a small number of small disk writes, so the differences between disks and SSDs would be hard to perceive. And LR performs most catalog database updates in background without stalling the user interface.

SSDs could make a modestly noticeable difference in the speed of Develop moving to the next photo. In this case, the user is waiting for the i/o of the raw file to complete (it isn't overlapped with processing other photos). So if the next photo isn't in the operating system cache, a user would wait 0.4 seconds with a spinning disk, 0.1 seconds with an SSD (very approximately).
 

Jimmsp

Senior Member
Joined
Jan 9, 2011
Messages
1,171
Location
Green Valley, Arizona, USA
Lightroom Experience
Advanced
Lightroom Version
Classic
...

My question is whether putting my RAW files on a big SSD (rather than an HDD) would give me a noticeable speed boost? Not even sure how I would connect the SSD to the Mac to maintain speed levels...
I have a couple of internal SSD drives on my pc desktop. I import my raw files into a folder I call "Work in Process".
This will consist of a number of subfolders.
After I am finished with them, I just have Lightroom drag them into a "History " folder I maintain on a spinner HDD.
But I really don't notice a speed difference when I call up a raw from History for more processing.
 

BobT

Active Member
Joined
Apr 7, 2009
Messages
390
Location
Australia
Lightroom Experience
Advanced
Lightroom Version
Classic
I've just built a new computer. It has a 1TB eNVM for programs and another for data but for backups I use the HDDs salvaged from the old computer. My advice would be, if you have any not too old and known to be reliable HDDs, use them, but if you need to buy a new drive, definitely get an SSD.
 
Joined
Jul 11, 2011
Messages
453
Location
San Antonio, TX
Lightroom Experience
Power User
Lightroom Version
Cloud Service
You guys are killing me. I know this is not a PC / computer / Mac / laptop / desktop forum. If it were, you would not be discouraging the use of SSDs and if you wrote some of this there, you would be crucified and boiled in oil....

Am I in a time warp here on this thread? Is this 2022? Are we really posting articles from a decade ago? (I didn't read it so maybe it has some relevance, but I'm too busy trying to keep up with what is happening right now, which is hard enough to do).

Jim, you build your rig and I'll build mine. They will both work fine on LR right now.

LR is getting better every month it seems. If you guys are arguing for HDDs vs SSDs, then I don't even know where to start lecturing you....

But like I said, that is in the future and right now 8 TB and above SSDs are out of reach for a lot of folks. But 2 TB SSDs are a given. And the moment Gen 5 M.2 PCIe 5 - 2 TB SSDs are available on the market ... that is when I rebuild. I'm waiting....

Right now, I have 4 very large HDDs spinning in my rig. And I dream of the day that is not the case.

To be honest, 3 years ago I predicted that right now we would have 10 TB M.2 PCIE SSDs available for 500 bucks. I was wrong. But the Vid hit us, or we would right now. It will happen soon.

And of course it will help LR in all kinds of ways. And everything else too.

And you have to be careful with old LR tests. A month ago LR was not using the GPU in key places that it is right now.
 
Last edited:
Joined
Jul 11, 2011
Messages
453
Location
San Antonio, TX
Lightroom Experience
Power User
Lightroom Version
Cloud Service
I've just built a new computer. It has a 1TB eNVM for programs and another for data but for backups I use the HDDs salvaged from the old computer. My advice would be, if you have any not too old and known to be reliable HDDs, use them, but if you need to buy a new drive, definitely get an SSD.
I don't like old HDDs. How old? No way I rebuild and put in a 3 year-old HDD for anything important. But for a pure single copy 4th backup? why not. Go ahead. Let it spin for awhile (as you watch the SSD market closely in anticipation of putting all of those in the trash heap).
 
Joined
Dec 7, 2007
Messages
2,673
Location
Puget Sound
Lightroom Experience
Intermediate
Lightroom Version
Classic
My G-Tech RAID 0 working drive has been doing a great job storing my images since 2014, but it's now showing signs that it could fail. Assuming it's not an electronics issue, I could just replace the two 7200 drives - and have as much storage as I need.

My Lr catalogue and previews already sit on my iMac's SSD, so speed there isn't a problem.

My question is whether putting my RAW files on a big SSD (rather than an HDD) would give me a noticeable speed boost? Not even sure how I would connect the SSD to the Mac to maintain speed levels...

Something tells me that it won't make a difference, but I thought I would check with people here who know better than me how Lr works under the bonnet.

Thanks in advance for your guidance.

Julian
In addition to the opinions that have been provided above, I would encourage you to read the articles at Puget Systems that John has linked above. They have been building and testing machines designed for LR for a number of years, and they do not typically cut corners on their builds. The various tests they have performed should be helpful in your decision making process.

--Ken
 
Joined
Nov 30, 2012
Messages
827
Lightroom Experience
Power User
Lightroom Version
Classic
You guys are killing me. I know this is not a PC / computer / Mac / laptop / desktop forum. If it were, you would not be discouraging the use of SSDs and if you wrote some of this there, you would be crucified and boiled in oil....
No one in this thread is generally saying “you don’t need an SSD.” An SSD will always be technically faster than a hard drive. But this is an application-specific question, and that changes the answer. The key to the direction of this thread is understanding that all types of data access in Lightroom Classic are not equal; they are definitely weighted differently. And that weighting becomes important if you are on a budget.

Where does Lightroom Classic have the greatest need for storage speed? This is an important answer, and many people get it wrong:
  • For all modules except Develop, it’s the volume containing the current catalog. Not just because of the catalog, but largely because the previews file (and Smart Previews file, if used) is very frequently accessed in all modules (except Develop), and Lightroom Classic always stores the previews/Smart Previews files in the same folder as the catalog. If an up-to-date preview is built for an image, Lightroom Classic is going to read the Previews file instead of the original.
  • For the Develop module, it’s the volume containing the Camera Raw cache, which defaults to the system volume. The Camera Raw cache is there to minimize re-rendering of those processor-intensive raw images plus their recent edits. If you are editing by moving among sets of images in Develop, fast access to the Camera Raw cache is critical.
Neither answer is “the volume where the originals are.” Because originals are read relatively infrequently. Maybe to build an initial preview, or in Develop to load an original into the Camera Raw cache. After that, the originals are largely left alone, because most of the I/O for that image will involve the Previews cache or the Camera Raw cache; or if you’re lucky, the even faster RAM caches of those locations. Where the originals are stored has little weight in the overall performance picture for Lightroom Classic. For an original on a hard drive, access time will be slower, but reading originals is infrequent enough that you probably won’t notice the difference. And that is why so many here find hard drives a perfectly reasonable place to store originals.

But at the other two locations — the previews file and the Camera Raw cache —access is so much more frequent and constant that an SSD makes a definite difference in responsiveness. Many here would agree that an SSD is certainly optimal for those specific locations. If you have a recent computer that boots off a fast SSD, and you also happen to keep your catalog on that boot volume, then you are largely taken care of as far as fast storage needs for Lightroom Classic. So, the terabytes of originals can be stored on a slower SSD or…yes, that’s right…a hard drive, if you need to save money. Not saying anyone should use a slow hard drive for originals (don’t use the cheap 2.5-inch backup drives from Costco), but if it’s around 200GB/sec or more the originals should load quickly enough.

If you need more details, I refreshed my memory about how this works from reviewing the pages about previews, cache, and performance in Victoria’s Lightroom Classic Missing FAQ book. It’s all there.
 
Joined
Feb 1, 2010
Messages
13,847
Location
West Sussex, UK
Lightroom Experience
Advanced
Lightroom Version
Classic
You guys are killing me. I know this is not a PC / computer / Mac / laptop / desktop forum. If it were, you would not be discouraging the use of SSDs and if you wrote some of this there, you would be crucified and boiled in oil....

Am I in a time warp here on this thread? Is this 2022? Are we really posting articles from a decade ago? (I didn't read it so maybe it has some relevance, but I'm too busy trying to keep up with what is happening right now, which is hard enough to do).
Greg, you may not want to read a decade-old post (which actually is as relevant today as it was then), but I do suggest you read the original post in this thread. A very specific question was asked ("My question is whether putting my RAW files on a big SSD (rather than an HDD) would give me a noticeable speed boost?") to which I supplied the correct answer, condensed to "no". I then followed up with a series of tests demonstrating the point I was making.

I'm sorry if that has somehow upset you, but our job here is to give the best answer we can to the questions that are asked, not to try selling the latest and greatest technology. And for the record, if the same specific question was asked of me on a PC/computer/Mac/laptop/desktop forum, I'd give the exact same answer.
 
Joined
Jul 11, 2011
Messages
453
Location
San Antonio, TX
Lightroom Experience
Power User
Lightroom Version
Cloud Service
I'm not at all upset. It is an interesting discussion and I really appreciate the info about when and how LR accesses the raw files (wherever they are stored). The great thing about this forum is that others can learn about LR from the posted question and the discussion can advance. The OP was asking about doing what I did two years ago, and it was a big decision. That is to move all my raw files to a big 8 TB SSD from a spinning 10 TB HDD.

That could be a 1 TB (common and cheap), a 2 TB (more expensive but doable), or an 8 TB. I disagree with you only in that I would advise him to do it if he can, and the list of benefits in doing that is very long and is not just concerning the speed and frequency in which LR accesses the base raw files stored somewhere outside the boot SSD.

I just don't agree with a lot of what is being said here (my opinion) and beyond just opinion, I believe that a lot of what has been said on this string is wrong. We could argue all year about what kind of components to pick and buy in a new desktop or laptop in order to maximize our photography and our unique workflows. In fact, there are hundreds of blogs and forums where people do just that. They disagree on everything all the time. Show me 5 enthusiasts building a desktop rig for photography and I will show you five different builds and a lot of intense arguments.

It is difficult to keep up with the latest advances on connectivity, CPUs, GPUs, RAM, PSUs, and the latest in SSD tech and how it connects to the system. The ports make all the difference in this arena too. In fact, the confusing world of computer connectivity is about to be dominated by two players in a two-horse race - Thunderbolt 4 and USB 4. That will impact the way we store and back up our images in the future. It will impact our workflow and all of Adobe (and LR), and LR will continue to evolve to make best use of these new technologies. LR was slow to do that in terms of utilizing the GPU and maximizing the use of multiple cores, but they are doing it right now, and just did with the 11 update.

You remember what the Boss said a couple of days ago when I was talking about how the latest version of LR now uses the GPU for generating previews and that process goes much faster now? That is a new thing. She said that Adobe's priority is making LR faster and more efficient. Who knows what they do next.

I spend a lot of time reading Tom's Hardware every day because they report, review and editorialize about literally every piece of gear that comes to the market, and it's a minefield out there.

I get all the discussion about how and when LR currently accesses the raw file. But if anyone thinks working in LR with your raw files on an external HDD connected to USB 3 port (because all the newer faster ports won't be needed with a spinning external HDD) is as good as working off an SSD that is mounted on a motherboard via M.2 and PCIe 4 (or even SATA), well, I just don't know what to say.

When I'm working off my laptop on the road my images are on that internal single drive. On my desktop? The images are all on an 8TB internal SATA SSD. I made that move 2 years ago with the help of this forum. The price of that 8TB SATA SSD drive has not dropped much since then (from 800 to 700 bucks). So it is still very expensive to make the move. Like I have said on this thread, there are 8 TB M.2 PCIe Gen 4 SSDs for 1400 bucks. That just happened a month ago. That's a lot of money but I'm doing it soon. Will it help LR? Heck yes. It will have a profound impact on a lot of things. It's going to be awesome, and we will all get there someday.

If you think LR accessing 100 to 200 MB Fuji Raf MF raw files on an external HDD connected to a USB 3 port is the same thing as LR getting to those huge files on a M.2 PCIe 4 (soon to be 5) drive, or even a SATA SSD, then it does not upset me at all Jim. It causes me to shake my head and smile.
 
Joined
Feb 1, 2010
Messages
13,847
Location
West Sussex, UK
Lightroom Experience
Advanced
Lightroom Version
Classic
I just don't agree with a lot of what is being said here (my opinion) and beyond just opinion, I believe that a lot of what has been said on this string is wrong.

Could you be specific about what things we have said that you think are wrong? None of us claim to be infallibly accurate, but it would be useful to know exactly where we are wrong in the things we post here. We are always happy to be corrected.

If you think LR accessing 100 to 200 MB Fuji Raf MF raw files on an external HDD connected to a USB 3 port is the same thing as LR getting to those huge files on a M.2 PCIe 4 (soon to be 5) drive, or even a SATA SSD, then it does not upset me at all Jim. It causes me to shake my head and smile.


Smile all you want, Greg....it's pointless carrying on this discussion, as you are clearly not going to be persuaded by facts. As far as I'm concerned, the original question has been answered, so I'll wait to see if he has any follow-up questions.

One final data-point.....today I dug out the oldest and slowest portable hard drive in my cupboard in order to repeat the tests that I did yesterday. It's an old 250GB WD Passport portable drive, 5400 RPM, USB2 (yes, USB TWO). And the results of the Preview and Export tests were as follows:

1:1 Previews: 8m 10s (the SSD test was 7m 47s), so the USB2 drive was tiny bit slower.

Exports: 4m 22s (the SSD test was 4m 25s)!

Go figure!
 
Joined
Jun 20, 2009
Messages
19,457
Location
Houston, TX USA
Lightroom Experience
Power User
Lightroom Version
Cloud Service
My Lr catalogue and previews already sit on my iMac's SSD, so speed there isn't a problem.

My question is whether putting my RAW files on a big SSD (rather than an HDD) would give me a noticeable speed boost? Not even sure how I would connect the SSD to the Mac to maintain speed levels...
There are very few occasions when Lightroom Classic needs to access the original file. These are primarily when printing, and exporting. If exporting in large numbers a faster disk might be useful.

A HDD will last around 6 years and the SSD longer, maybe up to twenty. I would not depend upon either for more than 5 years

Your best drive connector would be Thunderbolt 3 or 4 if you have the ports on your Mac. If you are using a G-Tech enclosure that is USB, you might want to swap the enclosure out for a TB3 or 4 and put your money on the increased speed of the port (40GB-s). You can keep your traditional HDDs if they are not too old.


Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk
 
Joined
Jul 11, 2011
Messages
453
Location
San Antonio, TX
Lightroom Experience
Power User
Lightroom Version
Cloud Service
Could you be specific about what things we have said that you think are wrong? None of us claim to be infallibly accurate, but it would be useful to know exactly where we are wrong in the things we post here. We are always happy to be corrected.




Smile all you want, Greg....it's pointless carrying on this discussion, as you are clearly not going to be persuaded by facts. As far as I'm concerned, the original question has been answered, so I'll wait to see if he has any follow-up questions.

One final data-point.....today I dug out the oldest and slowest portable hard drive in my cupboard in order to repeat the tests that I did yesterday. It's an old 250GB WD Passport portable drive, 5400 RPM, USB2 (yes, USB TWO). And the results of the Preview and Export tests were as follows:

1:1 Previews: 8m 10s (the SSD test was 7m 47s), so the USB2 drive was tiny bit slower.

Exports: 4m 22s (the SSD test was 4m 25s)!

Go figure!
Ok. I agree and it does seem strange when you think about it. Plus, I don't know your whole setup. I know LR flies fast on my PC and laptop and maybe it is hard to pinpoint exactly how and why unless you are a pro bench-marker and are testing a bunch of systems of various arrangements. If that external HDD vs Internal SSD speed observation is true, then LR has some work to do. And remember, after all of my SSD musings here, I'm running three 8TB spinning drives in my rig right now. I can't afford to be backing up my images on SSDs now (but soon I will).

I know that when I jumped to having all of my raw files on a big SSD, LR flew faster in many ways. But to be fair, I also had moved up the ladder on RAM, GPU and CPU. Sometimes it is hard to pinpoint exactly why we are running faster (or slower) on LR.

I think we can all agree that it would be nice to have affordable fast and big SSDs. Think of how far we have come. Everyone is booting off of fast SSDs these days, and running the LR program on that same SSD and that is also where we have the LR folder with the cat and previews. I think it goes without saying that it would be a very nice thing for us all to also have our raw files on a nice big fast and affordable SSD vs external spinning drives.

Maybe we aren't there yet without spending a lot of money, but it is happening fast now post-Covid.
 
Joined
Jul 11, 2011
Messages
453
Location
San Antonio, TX
Lightroom Experience
Power User
Lightroom Version
Cloud Service
There are very few occasions when Lightroom Classic needs to access the original file. These are primarily when printing, and exporting. If exporting in large numbers a faster disk might be useful.

A HDD will last around 6 years and the SSD longer, maybe up to twenty. I would not depend upon either for more than 5 years

Your best drive connector would be Thunderbolt 3 or 4 if you have the ports on your Mac. If you are using a G-Tech enclosure that is USB, you might want to swap the enclosure out for a TB3 or 4 and put your money on the increased speed of the port (40GB-s). You can keep your traditional HDDs if they are not too old.


Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk
Well said. It's also possible that an HDD lasts minutes vs 6 years, and I agree I don't trust them after 5 years and I want to get to the point that I don't have any HDDs. That happens sooner than later.
Yes, on connectivity, the immediate future is TB 4 and USB 4. I would not buy a laptop now without 2, 3 or 4 TB 4 ports now as well as 40GB USB-C connectivity. All the new mid to upper Motherboards are going to have plenty of those connections on desktops.

Apple is making me drool these days. I've often thought of switching totally. They are killing us with those displays, ARM processors (M2 family now), connectivity and build quality. Oh - and extremely low power consumption and superb previously unheard of battery life because of that ARM architecture.
 

PhilBurton

Lightroom enthusiast (but still learning)
Premium Classic Member
Joined
Nov 16, 2015
Messages
2,777
Location
California, USA
Lightroom Experience
Intermediate
Lightroom Version
Classic
For anyone who uses LrC and has a subscription plan, instead of buying SSDs in preference for HDDs for multi-TB storage, consider upgrading your graphics card.

Of course, if you have an unlimited budget, then build/buy an entirely new system with AMD Ryzen CPU (for PCI-E 4 support) and get a current generation card from either NVidia or AMD and an NMVe SSD that supports PCI-E 4. Either transfer your current HDDs to youw new system or buy a very large NMVe SSD to replace those HDDs. Of course for me such a system is not even aspiratonal. I need to replace my 14 year old Nikon D3.
 
Joined
Nov 30, 2012
Messages
827
Lightroom Experience
Power User
Lightroom Version
Classic
I get all the discussion about how and when LR currently accesses the raw file. But if anyone thinks working in LR with your raw files on an external HDD connected to USB 3 port (because all the newer faster ports won't be needed with a spinning external HDD) is as good as working off an SSD that is mounted on a motherboard via M.2 and PCIe 4 (or even SATA), well, I just don't know what to say.
What you might say, is to tell us the real world storage data rate that you measure when reading raw files off your M.2 SSD. Because when I observe that during Lightroom work, the peak is well below the top I/O throughput of NVMe SSDs, and not far from hard drive range.

I did a quick test. First I threw out the previews and then “walked” through consecutive images in both Library/Loupe and Develop. I was hoping that would cause Lightroom Classic to constantly read the originals and write to caches. Some of the originals are on this Mac’s internal system SSD (with a measured peak of around 5000+MB/sec), and others were on an external SATA SSD (peak 450-550MB/sec). They included stitched panoramas so that I could try larger files. But despite the high throughput that the storage hardware can provide, the peak read reported was just 293MB/sec during that Lightroom Classic test.

Lightroom-Classic-IO-on-SSD.jpg


Now, it was just a quick test so maybe I am missing something. Or maybe my reporting utility isn’t accurate enough. But that still makes me curious what readings others get. Maybe SSDs provide a qualitative difference in perceived retrieval speed beyond what actually shows up in I/O benchmarks.

That experiential difference is a big reason Apple specs fast storage*, especially on the top end Mac Studio which appears to be capable of 7000+MB/sec thanks to having a lot of parallel channels to/from larger storage capacities. They like to enhance macOS performance by using fast storage to read system files and caches and swap memory as quickly as possible, which makes the biggest difference with frequently accessed system files and caches. SSDs are definitely far faster than hard drives when rapidly reading/writing large numbers of small files at random locations. But Lightroom Classic originals are not accessed anywhere nearly as frequently as system files or Lightroom Classic preview/cache files.

Ultimately we do all agree that if someone has enough money, you just get SSDs for everything. The SSD vs hard drive question here only applies when you don’t have enough money to put your entire photo/video archive on SSDs…and that seems to apply to a lot of people.


*the exception being the new 13" M2 MacBook Pro base model, which has unusually “slow” SSD storage due to the few channels in its single 256GB storage module…don’t buy that configuration
 
Last edited:
Joined
Jul 11, 2011
Messages
453
Location
San Antonio, TX
Lightroom Experience
Power User
Lightroom Version
Cloud Service
What you might say, is to tell us the real world storage data rate that you measure when reading raw files off your M.2 SSD. Because when I observe that during Lightroom work, the peak is well below the top I/O throughput of NVMe SSDs, and not far from hard drive range.

I did a quick test. First I threw out the previews and then “walked” through consecutive images in both Library/Loupe and Develop. I was hoping that would cause Lightroom Classic to constantly read the originals and write to caches. Some of the originals are on this Mac’s internal system SSD (with a measured peak of around 5000+MB/sec), and others were on an external SATA SSD (peak 450-550MB/sec). They included stitched panoramas so that I could try larger files. But despite the high throughput that the storage hardware can provide, the peak read reported was just 293MB/sec during that Lightroom Classic test.

View attachment 18912

Now, it was just a quick test so maybe I am missing something. Or maybe my reporting utility isn’t accurate enough. But that still makes me curious what readings others get. Maybe SSDs provide a qualitative difference in perceived retrieval speed beyond what actually shows up in I/O benchmarks.

That experiential difference is a big reason Apple specs fast storage*, especially on the top end Mac Studio which appears to be capable of 7000+MB/sec thanks to having a lot of parallel channels to/from larger storage capacities. They like to enhance macOS performance by using fast storage to read system files and caches and swap memory as quickly as possible, which makes the biggest difference with frequently accessed system files and caches. SSDs are definitely far faster than hard drives when rapidly reading/writing large numbers of small files at random locations. But Lightroom Classic originals are not accessed anywhere nearly as frequently as system files or Lightroom Classic preview/cache files.

Ultimately we do all agree that if someone has enough money, you just get SSDs for everything. The SSD vs hard drive question here only applies when you don’t have enough money to put your entire photo/video archive on SSDs…and that seems to apply to a lot of people.


*the exception being the new 13" M2 MacBook Pro base model, which has unusually “slow” SSD storage due to the few channels in its single 256GB storage module…don’t buy that configuration
Conrad, that is interesting. I'm not a tester and am usually chasing the best components anyway because I build a new rig every 3 years and update components along the way. I change laptops every two years. So I am getting the good stuff anyway and it becomes harder to compare it to the old stuff. On any new PC or laptop, you will be booting off of a fast SSD, and everyone puts LR and their catalog on that same internal SSD. Sure, many folks still are working off of their big spinning external or internal hard drives where their raw files are stored. Like I said, right now, unless you want to spend 700 bucks for an 8 TB SATA SSD, or 1400 bucks for an M.2 SSD, then you will be putting your raw files on a spinning disk (internal or external) if you have more than 2 TB of raw files. But less than 2 TB, which is the case for many of you, a fast new 2TB M.2 PCIe 4 SSD is not that high and you should do it now.

I understand what is being said here about how and when LR pings to the actual raw file and that having your files on a HDD vs SSD seems not to be that big a difference in some of these stopwatch tests by enthusiasts. But when you think about it, it makes no sense. Read and write speeds for HDD vs SSD are dramatically different. We all know that. As you move up the SSD ladder from SATA to M.2 and the 4 (soon to be 5) generations of PCIe, the speeds dramatically differ. LR has to still read those raw files. But I get it. LR does a good job of loading those raw files into all kinds of ram and cache so one won't notice the difference in a small work flow.
But I have some huge files. Example - I focus stack with medium format sometimes. That results in some DNG and TIFF files that are 700 MB. You think a big file like that loads into LR from an external spinning drive connected to a USB 3 port is as fast as an M.2 (or even SATA) SSD connected to a fast USB 3.2 Gen 2x2 20 Gbps port or faster? No way. If so, then LR is at fault and will get better.
Also, if I import load 1000 big 100MB files into LR and build 1:1 previews and then start editing, I know it is much better, smoother and faster using all SSD. Of course it is. I know it because I use LR every day for years on end and I made the switch. I can feel it and see it. I just can't prove it to you guys. And besides, I'm talking about the whole workflow too, not just loading the file from disk into LR for the develop module.
So, my advice to the OP is the same. Move to SSD for everything as soon as you can afford it. If his total raw file storage is below 2 TB, that is a no-brainer. If it is over 2 TB and he needs an 8TB SSD, well, that cost will come down this year and next and we all can do it. It's gonna happen anyway.

The HDD won't die soon because we will still need them at above 10 TB. And not to mention (yuch and thumbs-down!) RAID.

I guess what I have learned from this thread is that LR needs to improve reading from faster technology solutions like M.2 PCIe 4/5 SSDs connected to very fast 20 and 40 Gbps ports, and better prepare itself for TB 4 and USB 4. I want to see lightening fast loads from disk.
 

MrFixit

Member
Joined
May 11, 2019
Messages
29
Oh dear, I have all of my RAW files (several TB) on a NAS (RAID 6) with just a 1GB connection!! So LrC must run like a dog?

In fact, it's plenty fast enough for my purposes (I am retired) and my >2 year old PC appears to be more CPU (Intel I7, 6 cores, o/c'ed to 4.8/5GHz on all cores) bound than I/O bound.

So I guess I'll just soldier on.
 
Joined
Apr 3, 2012
Messages
1,832
Location
Bay Area, California, USA
Lightroom Experience
Power User
Lightroom Version
Classic
these stopwatch tests by enthusiasts.
Some of the contributors here are software engineers with decades of experience, and the stopwatch is always the first place to start when measuring application performance.
 
Joined
Jul 11, 2011
Messages
453
Location
San Antonio, TX
Lightroom Experience
Power User
Lightroom Version
Cloud Service
Oh dear, I have all of my RAW files (several TB) on a NAS (RAID 6) with just a 1GB connection!! So LrC must run like a dog?

In fact, it's plenty fast enough for my purposes (I am retired) and my >2 year old PC appears to be more CPU (Intel I7, 6 cores, o/c'ed to 4.8/5GHz on all cores) bound than I/O bound.

So I guess I'll just soldier on.
You are fine. I bet your system is very fast and LR runs very well, as mine did two years ago when I had my 5TB of raw files on external spinning HDDs.

Moving to all SSDs of course has many benefits throughout the workflow besides just waiting on LR to read the raw files. You will of course get there eventually anyway, as we all will.

Like I said at least 7 times on this thread, if you are over 2 TB on your storage requirements, it is probably best to wait a bit unless you are willing to spend 700 bucks on one 8TB SATA SSD, or 1400 bucks one one M.2 PCIE4 internal SSD.

RAID? That is a separate topic best not for this forum. If you are a shooting high volume pro that can't afford to be down for a few hours as you reset your system from a backup after a single failed primary data disk, then I get it. You have to have the redundancy. I don't, and I have through long experience learned to not rely on RAID. I don't like RAID and my reasons are a long list. I think most enthusiasts that shoot a lot like me don't need it, and would be best to avoid it. The high-volume daily working pro or big shop? Different story.
 
Joined
Jul 11, 2011
Messages
453
Location
San Antonio, TX
Lightroom Experience
Power User
Lightroom Version
Cloud Service
Some of the contributors here are software engineers with decades of experience, and the stopwatch is always the first place to start when measuring application performance.
Right. I respect that. And I'm not a tester. I don't know which posters on this thread those are or what their experience is with LR (or how current they are with the latest components vs doing their job and writing code or managing projects). I am happy to listen to them and learn.

In fact, I listen to hundreds of "experts" in many photography and PC blogs, forums and publications. Like Maximum PC - the Builder's Bible. I research intensely before every build because a lot of money is sent and decisions have to be made.

But to be honest, I don't always agree with the software engineers or even a friend of mine that designs CPU architecture. I have a friend at Dell who I also don't always agree with. You know who I listen to the most when I build a new rig for photography? The young guys who are serious gamers and build their own rigs because those rigs are also good for content production as long as you get a nice 4K IPS (or better - mini-LED) professional 32 inch 4K monitor instead of a gaming monitor.

To each his own. I'm just sharing ideas, and some of you are resisting what I know you will be doing soon anyway. But some of you are are probably stubborn and set in your ways. You love your spinning hard drives because they have worked so well for you, and if your storage requirements are high, you have no real choice yet anyway.

The OP? He wants to know from us what he should do. I think I told him what to do and he will make up his own mind. If you guys who are software engineers and write code all day don't agree, then just say so. This is an open form of discussion. Note: I may have missed it, but I would like to know what his total size is on his photography files. 1 TB? 2? 4? 6? 10? That has a big impact on any decision made right now.

Again, I moved my raw files to SATA SSD 2 years ago, and I'm about to move them again to a 8TB M.2 PCIe SSD. When I do, I will come on here and seek help from the LR gurus because I know transferring to a new base data disk and linking the LR cat to it is going to cause me trouble. It can be done in a few keystrokes after copying my 6 TB of raw files to the new disk. But one little mistake can make a shambles of your folder system and cause all kinds of angst as you try to clean it up. I wish I had kept exact notes of how to do it in my case. Clete doesn't remember, but he talked me through it two years ago. Even the Queen piped in.
 
Status
Not open for further replies.
Top