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Old March 26th, 2004, 12:00 PM   #1
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Couple of quick hard drive questions / opinions...

Hey all. Well I'm in the market for a new HD. I'm thinking of the Maxtor ultra 7200 series in the 200gig variety. I currently have a 30 gig and a 120 gig but I had a few questions:

1. Is it possible to run 3 hard drives: in this case, I'd transfer my 30 gig which currently only has music and sfx on it onto one of the new larger ones and run all my programs/OS on it leaving the 200gig and the 120 gig simply for vid files and other storage.

2. Is running my OS on a different partition than my video files the same thing as running the OS on a different drive? In this case given that I most likely can't run 3 hard drives, I might opt to get a 250gig HD and then partition maybe 20 of it just for OS and the rest for vid files ect. Intuitively, this would tell me no, that it must be a seperate physical drive, not just different partitions but I wasn't sure.

3. What would you guys rec? I currently have my OS and vid files etc. on one single 120 gig HD that is in desperate need of help and my 30 gig has 1 gig left from all the music and SFX (not to mention the simple prob of having os and vids on same 120gig drive). I'm planning on getting around a 200 gig drive either in the Maxtor 7200 series or MAYBE the WD Caviar SE which cost a bit more but might be worth it. What kind of partitions would you guys make etc.... thanks in advance!!
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Old March 26th, 2004, 12:58 PM   #2
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1. Yes - with most motherboards you have have up to 4 IDE devices (but remember that CD or DVD drives count as well. You can also add additional IDE ports via cards. Your main limitation is going to be space, power, and cooling ability.

2. No - even on two separate partitions, they are both still on the same drive.
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Old March 26th, 2004, 01:05 PM   #3
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If you only have one drive, then you should have at least two partitions - one around 30G for your OS, and then the other for all your data. Ideally you want to keep all your documents and high traffic items away from the OS partition.

If you have multiple drives, then one drive for your OS and the others for everything else is ideal.

The reason for this is two-fold

- Your OS doesn't compete with anything else as your drive is spinning playing some video or music file or something else not very important.

- When files are deleted they are technically not really deleted - the OS simply 'forgets' where it was on the drive and eventually that space gets overwritten. This is why drives get fragmented over time. Doing this leads to inefficiency as your drive spins all over the place looking for data that's spread out like cold butter on untoasted bread. If you keep your OS separate in a low traffic zone, your fragmentation is kept at a minimum and therefore your OS runs faster.

In your scenario, I myself (and this is up to preference), would do something like this:

- Use your existing 30G drive for OS
- Use your existing 120G drive as a second drive for all of your regular storage, documents, music, etc.
- Get another 200G drive and put it in an external firewire case yourself and do all your video editing there.

Of course having a RAID is always some nice piece of mind, so if you know how, you could always get 2 200G drives and get a RAID controller and run them mirrored so you never lose any video data. Go another step and get 1 or 2 more and do a 3 or 4-drive mirrored/striped setup for even better performance. But this is getting outside of the scope of your question, and probably far above the cash you want to spend.

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Old March 26th, 2004, 04:30 PM   #4
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Hey, so is the benefit of getting a firewire case in my situation to be able to use 3 hard drives (I already have a cd and DVD drive so no room for 3 drives) or do you rec it more for the portability issues? With most of the cases being like $150, couldn't I just get a 250 gig HD and then partition it with a section just for music (like 50 gigs) and then have the remaining ~200 for vid files while having all the high traffic items on the 120 gig? Seems like that would save some money provided that I don't need much expansion past that in the future. If so, maybe I could look into a firewire casing down the road......
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Old March 27th, 2004, 01:10 AM   #5
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External firewire/usb2 cases are only around $60. I personally use newegg.com for stuff like that. I have bought a few over time from there. Here's one, for example (it also has a fan which is a great feature to lengthen the life of a drive):

http://www.newegg.com/app/ViewProduc...146-022&depa=0

There are many enclosures out there; you just have to make sure they have the chip in them that allows larger drives.

Again, the external case is something I like personally. For me it's easy and portable. If you want to dump the 30G drive and just use the 120G as your primary and get a 250G for video, you sure can do that - but you'd want to make sure to partition out 30G of that 120G and reserve it for the OS. But really, there's no need to dump that drive unless you see a reason to - it would be wasteful. Plus again, having a drive dedicated to the OS is always most ideal. Even with split partitions, it still is the same drive and same spindle doing the work.
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Old March 27th, 2004, 01:39 AM   #6
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Imran - very interesting - only one more question: how fast is firewire compared to a 7200 speed HD? Is firewire a faster connection? I ask because if I'm going to get a 200gig etc. HD, then I don't want to waste the extra cash on a extremely fast drive with 8mb buffer if the firewire can't keep up with it - I'll just get one of the normal 7200 200gig HD's......
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Old March 27th, 2004, 08:28 AM   #7
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Any partition even on the drive that contains the OS partition would be faster than the external drive:)

I would get big fast drive (Hitachi or WD 200GB) and partition it for 1-OS, 2-my docs and 3-archiving/rendering of final projects or media data. Running OS will be faster than the old 30GB drive for sure.
Then use the 120 for your video caprure and editing.
You can still buy external case and use the 30GB for back up and portability. You can render to there the mpeg2 from the 120GB and burn to DVDs - it will speed up the process aditionally.
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Old March 27th, 2004, 11:53 AM   #8
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hmmm interesting. I like the idea of the 30 gig later for portability etc. I was thinking though partition the old 120gig for the OS in 1) 30gig section and then 2) 190 gig for songs ect that I won't be using on projects and digi cam pics etc. Then have the new 200 or 250 gig hard drive (it turns out that for $10 more, you can get the Maxtor 7200 series in 250 rather than 200) only for Vid capturing and projects. If I end up using one of my mp3s in a project, I will transfer it over to a folder on the Video HD to use. Still I'm curious, how fast is firewire compared to the normal speed of the IDE ribbon plug of internal HDs? Is there any way that a firewire drive could be faster than the ribbon plug inside? If so, then for max performance, it'd make sense to run the new Video drive off a FireWire case.
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Old March 27th, 2004, 01:26 PM   #9
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A firewire drive tends to have a throughput a little slower than an ATA-100 connection. Sustained rates are around 25MB/s. I would use it as alternate storage and not a capture device because that will prevent any issues with capturing DV and writing back (not that you asked or that it is much of an issue.) If you go to where Imran suggested, search by brands, Western Digital. Their price for external firewire drives are as good as buying a firewire case and drive. You can get one that does both USB and Firewire. I would use the Firewire though as it is faster in many cases.

Something to know about IDE connections. The slowest device dictates the speed on the cable. If you have 2 IDE connections with two connections on the cables, chances are the cable with the CD/DVD drive has the last open connection. Adding a drive would make it run at ATA-33 transfer rates. Alternately, you could add another controller card, including a SATA card to add an additional drive inside your case. If you have available PCI slots.

Bonus material - Firewire 800 is available now. Firewire (400) is theoretically half the speed. But, to get full speed with Firewire 800, you need a PCI-X 64bit PCI connection. That usually requires a motherboard designed for servers using Xeon processors (which tend to use the 7000 series chipsets from Intel.) I suspect that we will see PCI-Express (PCI-e) cards that take advantage of the new bus speed by years end, but you would need a new motherboard ;)

And if you can, avoid partitioning. If makes things more complicated and does not solve that many issues anymore.
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Old March 27th, 2004, 03:40 PM   #10
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George - great information, thanks! so avoid partitioning eh? That's a new one I haven't heard as it seems everyone is partition crazy. So I guess I'll just keep my current 120 gig drive in current fasion with the OS on it etc. - then transfer the music files to it from the 30 gig and move all DV files onto the 250 gig for capturing and projects as well as setting up a folder on the DV drive for any mp3's / songs I need to use for a project to keep all the files I will be editing with off the primary 120 gig hd. I'm excited for my new setup and to laugh an evil sinister laugh when I see the percentage left of HD space the next time I capture footage, oh er um, maybe that's just me... ;) Thanks everyone!
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Old March 27th, 2004, 10:51 PM   #11
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I did some simple benchmarking comparing ATA, SATA, and firewire drives.

Drive----------------Writing speed (in frames per second)
ATA 7200 RPM-----280 fps
SATA 7200 RPM----320 fps
Firewire-------------160 fps

The external firewire drive was about half the speed of the internal drives. The SATA was a little faster (should be expected - the spec is 150 MBs over the 133 for the parallel ATA drives). The other fact is all are more than fast enough for video capture.

I would avoid partitioning drives at all cost. Partitioning is a left over relic from the days when the operating systems could not handle large drives at all or efficiently. The lastest versions of Windows do a great job with very, very large hard drives. Creating partitions just slows the operation down (a lot).

Imran expressed concern over fragmentation. The easiest solution is to run defrag every so often (weekly). Completely solves the fragmentation problem.
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Old March 27th, 2004, 11:04 PM   #12
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The extra bandwidth of the SATA interface makes no improvement over the PATA interface since the drives can't take advantage of the extra capacity. Differences between the drives are neglible. Different model drives DO a make difference.

see http://www.storagereview.com

partitioning- I doubt this seriously degrades the performance of your drive. It does increase fragmentation since 2 partitions fill up faster than "1" partition. As a partition gets full (close to >90%) then fragmentation becomes harder to avoid. A good OS or defrag program will be less effective at reducing the effects of fragmentation.

Benefits of partitioning:
makes your computer easier to ghost (or other backup solutions)
can make file organization easier
prevent your OS+applications from fragmenting the video partition of the drive
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Old March 28th, 2004, 12:28 AM   #13
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The effect of partitioning depends a lot on what you have in each partition. If you have a drive with two partitions and put music in one and video files in the other partition it may not be too bad if you don’t use them at the same time. If you are either listening to music or working with you NLE. If you are listening to music while working on your NLE there will be a big performance hit. Often what people do is put the OS and applications in one partition and the data files in the other. This will cause a big performance hit. Here is a long technical explanation:

Let's take the simple case where you break the drive down into two partitions. The first is 30% of the drive, the second the remainder. So on a 600 cylinder drive, cylinders 0 to 179 are for the first partition. Cylinders 180 to 599 are for the second partition. (Note: many newer drives are logical block based and the interface no longer directly addresses cylinders. In this case the first 30 percent of the blocks would go to the first partition. These would fall in the first 30 percent of the cylinders, so the effects are the same).

Data stored in a file system is broken down into two parts. First is the data it self, maybe a avi file for a video or a program in an .exe file. There is also a table that tells the operating system where the pieces of a particular file are actually located on the disk. (That where the name FAT and FAT32 files systems come from. FAT stands for File Allocation Table. The allocation table was a linear array stored at the beginning of the disk. NTFS uses a much more complicated system but the idea is the same. There is a table that tells where the pieces of a file are located. ).

To read some information off the disk – say you are playing a video from an AVI file – the operating system moves the read/write head to the table and finds out where the start of the AVI file is. Next the operation system moves the read/write head to where the actual data is. This is called “a seek” and is very time consuming. Much of file system design centers around eliminated these slow seek operations. The operating system will read data off avi data for a while. Every once in a while the os will have to seek back to the table and find where the next part of the file is then seek back to the actually data. If you listen carefully (or have a loud hard drive) you can hear the seek operations. When a hard drive makes noise it is from a seek operation.

This is why file fragmentation is bad. Instead of a file being in order on the drive, it is broken down into different pieces scattered around the disk. To get from one piece to another requires a seeks which is slow. Playing an AVI file can actually pause or stutter a bit waiting for the seek.

Where a partitioned hard drive hurts you in performance is you now have two data layout tables physically separated on the disk. Accessing one partition then the other involves a slow seek from say cylinder 185 to say cylinder 2. It’s like having a permanently fragmented disk. As I said at the top if you are only using one partition at a time then you do not have the seeks between partitions and the hit is not too bad. If you have the os and applications in one partition and that data in the other there will be a big performance penalty. Maybe if you are very clever and partition your drives in such a way that two partitions on the same physical drive will not be used at the same time you might sneak by with it. If you did this really well you might get close to the performance of having just one partition on your drive.

As Glenn mentions, there are benefits to having several small partitions. Don't get caught in the trap of thinking there is no performance cost to these benefits.
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Old March 28th, 2004, 02:31 AM   #14
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Many technical information here but I don't think it will help Bryan.

To put the things in simple words - modern drives use 2-3 platers with 3 to 6 heads. Actually 120GB drive is slower than 160GB because it's the same drive (2x80GB platers) but use only 3 heads and 3 sides of this 2 platers. The 160, 200 and 250 use 2 platers and write with 4 heads (one for each side). The first partition (lets say 20GB) takes 10GB from one side of the each palter. Virtualy the second partition would be just as much fast as it will use different heads.

Partitioning is very helpful not only because of esier defragmentation but if your OS get screwed you can format and reinstal without affecting your precious data.

Use the new drive for OS and data Bryan - it'll be faster than the 120 GB older drive. On the other hand the old drive is more than suficient for video.
As other said Fire Wire is about twice slower than ATA but is also enough for capture and editing. People are using even notebooks with 4200rpm drivesand external for video without issues. What I'm proposing is the best you can do for your set up in the moment.
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Old March 28th, 2004, 10:22 AM   #15
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Bogdan, there is a mistake in your reasoning. The heads are not independent of each other. They all are connected to a single pivot and move together.
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