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Is it bad to be running my DAW off only 1 Hard Drive?

Discussion in 'Recording' started by Johnjm22, Mar 24, 2005.

  1. Johnjm22

    Johnjm22 Guest

    I've been told that it is best to run a DAW on multiple drives. One for programs, and one for audio. Is there any truth to this?
    And if so why?

    Right now I'm running PTLE on a Dual 1.25 Mac G4. The only drive I use is the stock 120GB drive that came with the computer. It has crashed a couple times in the past, but is was no big deal because I didn't have any super important projects on the computer. But latley I've been getting more business, and I've been doing bigger projects. Would running my DAW off two drives make it more stable?

    Thanks for any help. :cool:
  2. Big_D

    Big_D Well-Known Member

    2 HDD's are definitely prefered for several reasons. One is for the saftey of your audio data, if your OS/Programs drive should crap out all of your audio is safe. If your audio drive goes south however, well I guess that's sort of self explanatory.

    The other reason for 2 HDD's is performance. By dedicating one drive to audio and the other to programs your computer can process the data more efficiently. Audio can be streamed uninterupted to the CPU regardless of what the OS or programs drive is doing. In other words in general more tracks and plugs can be run (as long as the CPU and memory are up to it).

    Hope that helped
  3. Randyman...

    Randyman... Well-Known Member

    You mean a Mac really CAN crash ? :wink: (Sorry - I just had to).

    What's up Big_D?

  4. Johnjm22

    Johnjm22 Guest

    Thanks for the reply Big D. That did help.

    What hard drive would you recomend, Internal or External? And what brand and speed?
  5. fontane

    fontane Guest

    Internal... 7200RPM or 10000RPM...

    I am using the 7200rpm 160gb hitatchi
  6. Johnjm22

    Johnjm22 Guest

    Why Internal?
  7. Randyman...

    Randyman... Well-Known Member

    Internal drives will ALWAYS be faster. Anytime you need to convert from IDE (or SATA) to Firewire (or USB), you LOOSE bandwidth! You can do a test with "HD Tach" (A PC program :( ). My ATA133 Maxtor HD in an "Oxford 911" equipped HD enclosure only gets like 35MB/s max! The SAME DRIVE on an internal ATA133 connector does around 50MB/s!

    Also, in the PC world, the Southbridge controller (The IDE controller) will NOT tie up the PCI bus, where Firewire WILL. If you need TONS of audio bandwidth for your AUDIO I/O, then you will probably want to salvage as much PCI bandwidth as possible (by using INTERNAL southbridge controllers for your audio HD instead of FW).

    NTM - Internal drives will usually be quieter opposed to a small external enclosure with an extra fan. The Power supply should also be an important concern. Some of the external HD's use inferior power supplies. At the same time, if your PC's internal Power Supply is crappy, you will also have issues with an internal drive.

    PS - Sorry for my earlier MAC comment. I just see so many "PRO MAC" guys saying that a MAC will NEVER crash! :roll:

    Later :cool:
  8. Lerxst

    Lerxst Guest


    Just having a seperate audio drive (internal or external) doesn't mean that you will gain performance. You want to run that drive off of a different controller bus. Preferably one that is not being used by another device.
  9. Randyman...

    Randyman... Well-Known Member

    FWIW - Most "Promise" controllers DO use PCI bandwidth. The Southbridge is the only connection I know of to avoid stepping on the PCI bus. But you DO have a VERY valid point. I put my "back-up" HD's on my Promise controller, and my copies from my Southbridge to my Promise HAUL ASS! Like 1.5 to 2 times as fast as a Southbridge-to-Southbridge HD transfer! But, the PCI bus is seeing 50MB/s extra traffic while copying these files. That would not be good if you need mass bandwidth for 36 channels of audio I/O with low-latency.

    An easy fix: I keep my Audio drives on the Southbridge, and the back-up drives on the Promise, and I just don't use the Back-up drives for anyhing while recording Audio. Situation under control :wink:

    Later :cool:
  10. Johnjm22

    Johnjm22 Guest

    Damn. You guys know alot about computers. All this techno talk has me a little bit confused. What is IDE, SATA, and ATA?

    I've been looking for a drive and found this one:


    If this isn't a good one can someone recomend one to me.
  11. Randyman...

    Randyman... Well-Known Member

    IDE refers to "Integrated Drive Electronics", and simply means the drive has it's own form of controller built-in. These are the norm now-a-days.

    ATA stands for "AT Attachment", and I really don't know what that means. All that is important, is that ATA uses a PARALLEL bus with RIBBON CABLES, and master/slave combinations (2 devices controlled on ONE cable!). Most CD-R and DVD drives are still ATA, and ATA hard drives are still VERY popular.

    SATA is "Serial ATA", and allows higher bandwidth, AND only has 1 device per cable. This means maximum bandwidth is avalible for more than 1 perhiferal - opposed to "sharing" one set of cables for 2 devices. The SATA cables are also much more slender, and allow more airflow inside a crammed PC case (it DOES make a difference!). DVD-R drives and CD-R drives are also avalible as SATA, but they are not as popular as SATA HDs yet...

    That WD SATA HD you linked to looks nice. I have a 200GB simular to it in my PC. It rocks! As long as your Mac is SATA compatible, and you have an open SATA connection, it looks like it will fit the bill. Maxtor SATA drives are also nice, but I have had very good performance out of WD SATA stuff (the 200Gig, and a 36Gig Raptor @10,000 RPM).

    Later :cool:
  12. Big_D

    Big_D Well-Known Member

    Your half right, yes it should be on a different IDE channel (this doesn't apply to SATA) but it does not have to be the only device on that channel. As long as it's the master device and the other device is not being accessed at the same time you will see performance gains. I do agree though that it is prefered if the drive is alone on that channel.

    John, the drive you listed is an SATA drive and I'm not sure if your G4 supports SATA (I don't think it does). If it doesn't you will have to go with an IDE drive. SATA is faster than IDE (150 MB/s vs 133 MB/s) and uses a serial interface as opposed to the paralell interface of IDE. SATA is prefered but IDE should work well with your G4. Here's an IDE version of the drive you posted.


    Check out your system to see if it supports SATA before buying anything and let us know if you need help.

    BTW, nice job Randy
  13. Johnjm22

    Johnjm22 Guest

    Thanks for the replies everybody. Good info.

    I'll check to see if my Mac supports Sata. If not, I'll probably get that IDE drive you listed Big_D.

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