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Thunderbolt/USB3 portable HDD for running apps?


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#1 goodbytes

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Posted 03 May 2013 - 07:34

I want to purchase some software that is a whopping 250GB...The problem is my rMBP only has 250GB (only 60Gb free) and i don't think it can be upgraded.

Would i get good performance running the apps from a portable hard drive if it where powered by USB 3 or Thunderbolt? I don't know much about benchmarks but i can't deal with lag so i'd need it to feel like it was running off my main disk and not off an external device, i've also never used USB3 or TB external devices so i have no real bearing on what sort of performance gains i'll receive..

What are the best brands to look out for this type of purchase? any recommended drives? i appreciate it will be more expensive than a standard drive, i'm looking for 1TB and don't want it to cost an absolute fortune.

Thanks


#2 ZakO

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Posted 03 May 2013 - 08:01

It depends on several factors, what is the software? How many files does it read/load at any one time? Are there a few hundred large files, or millions of small files? Is it constantly reading/writing files, or will slower drives only affect start-up speed?

Assuming ideal read/write conditions (large files), If you go for a USB3/Thunderbolt powered 2.5" drive you're looking at a maximum read/write of roughly 100MB/s, which, depending on the software, isn't going to feel anywhere near the performance of the internal 500MB/s+ SSD. If you went for a 3.5" 7200RPM USB3/Thunderbolt external powered drive you could get about 150-170MB/s which while better, will probably still feel slow compared to the internal drive. Both of these options would cost < £80.

Alternatively, if you want to spend a lot more (£300+) you can buy a 512GB SSD and a thunderbolt 2.5" enclosure which will give you a drive not requiring any external power bricks and capable of read/write speeds of 325MB/s+.

Again, it completely depends on the software though. If, for example, it's music software where the software itself is usually small but with large sample libraries and you only load a handful of the samples at any one time the slower 2.5" option would probably be fine.

#3 +Nik L

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Posted 03 May 2013 - 08:15

Off topic but can I ask, what software is 250GB???

#4 OP goodbytes

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Posted 03 May 2013 - 08:19

It's music software that contains thousands of music samples probably ranging from a few MB up to couple of hundred MB. It's so big that it actually comes on a portable HDD (USB 2.0) for installation, what i want to do is install it to another portable hdd i'm just worrying about it being too slow, i use Logic on my mac and when it struggles to access data quick enough it simply stops in it's tracks.

It could be using 10 to 20 files at any one time.

http://www.native-in...specifications/

#5 iKenndac

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Posted 03 May 2013 - 08:29

To be honest, it's the "portable HDD" part that'll be the bottleneck here rather than the "USB3/Thunderbolt" part — both connections are so fast they're not really going to be worth worrying about.

2.5" HDD disks are normally pretty damn slow. If portability is a big need, an SSD in a little enclosure will be great but expensive.

I've just realised I'm basically rewording ZakO's post, so… what he said. :laugh:

#6 REM2000

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Posted 03 May 2013 - 08:40

It depends on several factors, what is the software? How many files does it read/load at any one time? Are there a few hundred large files, or millions of small files? Is it constantly reading/writing files, or will slower drives only affect start-up speed?

Assuming ideal read/write conditions (large files), If you go for a USB3/Thunderbolt powered 2.5" drive you're looking at a maximum read/write of roughly 100MB/s, which, depending on the software, isn't going to feel anywhere near the performance of the internal 500MB/s+ SSD. If you went for a 3.5" 7200RPM USB3/Thunderbolt external powered drive you could get about 150-170MB/s which while better, will probably still feel slow compared to the internal drive. Both of these options would cost < £80.

Alternatively, if you want to spend a lot more (£300+) you can buy a 512GB SSD and a thunderbolt 2.5" enclosure which will give you a drive not requiring any external power bricks and capable of read/write speeds of 325MB/s+.

Again, it completely depends on the software though. If, for example, it's music software where the software itself is usually small but with large sample libraries and you only load a handful of the samples at any one time the slower 2.5" option would probably be fine.


+1

SSD + Thunderbolt, probably the most cost effective option for performance

#7 OP goodbytes

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Posted 03 May 2013 - 09:13

So if i went with a thunderbolt 7200rpm disk its performance would match that of a standard internal hard drive? which technically is good enough to run apps off.. but may still seem slow to me since i'm used to SSD therefore thunderbolt+SSD would be a better option and match the speed of my internal disk? and it should be a 3.5 drive because 2.5 is slower... i didn't realise 2.5 drives were slower even though the rpm matches.

This Buffalo MiniStation is quite expensive, more than i wanted to spend but i would if it's up to the task: http://reviews.cnet....7-35338125.html i guess SSD is out of the price range for the space i need. I think this is 2.5 anyway, can't really find any single bay 3.5 externals?

#8 TheExperiment

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Posted 03 May 2013 - 09:47

So if i went with a thunderbolt 7200rpm disk its performance would match that of a standard internal hard drive? which technically is good enough to run apps off.. but may still seem slow to me since i'm used to SSD therefore thunderbolt+SSD would be a better option and match the speed of my internal disk? and it should be a 3.5 drive because 2.5 is slower... i didn't realise 2.5 drives were slower even though the rpm matches.

Yes, but USB3 is practically just as good. (Technically it isn't, but realistically consumer hard drives are unlikely to see much of a difference.)

I'd recommend a hybrid drive like this in a drive dock as it'll cache your most used stuff on the SSD part but still be reasonable for accessing the other data (not as fast as a normal HD, but many times faster on the cached parts) - http://www.newegg.co...N82E16822178340 sadly they don't distribute this sort of thing as a straight external drive yet.

#9 rwx

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Posted 03 May 2013 - 10:40

If you are going with USB 3.0 hard drive, you are better of going with 2.5" USB 3.0 enclosure and there are several reasons for this.

- When you buy a factory made USB 3.0 external hard drives, chances are it will come with a 5200RMP hard disk. That's why be careful, do research and read the box. You really want 7200RMP at the bare minimum. When you buy an external USB enclosure, you know exactly what hard disk you are using.

- If the USB 3.0 controller fails, you will need to send the entire disk back to the manufacturer with a factory made external hard disk. With an enclosure, you just take the disk out and put it in a different case. Problem solved.

As far as the software is concerned, I am pretty confident the software will run fine of the external hard disk *if* you have a USB 3.0 port. If you do not, it will be a bit slow.