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Running Photoshop off an external hard drive


Jill Morgan
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Last year my son bought me a 256GB SSD.  I was going to put it in my laptop, but decided not to as the laptop is getting old and I need a new one anyway.

 

I was thinking of buying a case for the SSD and loading the heavy software (such as PS and my Affinity Suite of programs) on to the SSD drive.

 

Would that speed up these programs or make no difference as the operating system is on the regular drive?

 

Since the SSD is a 2.5" drive, (I think they all are aren't they?) how easy would it be to use the SSD as my main drive and the HDD simply as storage?  I assume I would have to get some type of case to get the SSD to fit in the 3.5" slot in the computer.

 

Jill

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On 29/05/2020 at 08:59, Jill Morgan said:

Last year my son bought me a 256GB SSD.  I was going to put it in my laptop, but decided not to as the laptop is getting old and I need a new one anyway.

 

I was thinking of buying a case for the SSD and loading the heavy software (such as PS and my Affinity Suite of programs) on to the SSD drive.

 

Would that speed up these programs or make no difference as the operating system is on the regular drive?

 

Since the SSD is a 2.5" drive, (I think they all are aren't they?) how easy would it be to use the SSD as my main drive and the HDD simply as storage?  I assume I would have to get some type of case to get the SSD to fit in the 3.5" slot in the computer.

 

Jill

The SSD is fast storage media.  The key is what type external case/dock is used to house the drive and what type interface is used between the SSD external case and the computer.  Old USB 1 & 2 is slow and will waste the inherent speed of the SSD.   Newer interface protocols like USB 3+ have considerably faster data transfer speeds:

 

Then there is Thunderbolt 3 which has 40 gb/sec data transfer speed capacity. 

 

https://www.howtogeek.com/449991/thunderbolt-3-vs.-usb-c-whats-the-difference/

 

Putting your image editing s/w on the SSD will certainly speed it up - but only if the SSD is used with a fast connection protocol.  Otherwise the SSD's speed is wasted.

 

If you buy a new laptop it should have newer USB 3+ and maybe Thunderbolt 3 interface ports and perhaps it's own internal SSD with the computer's operating system installed on it.  Choose an SSD external housing that supports the fast protocol ports of the new laptop.

Edited by Phil
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Generally you should run your applications from the same drive as the operating system so running Photoshop from an external drive is not likely to give you any speed boost. Given that the laptop is old anyway doing what you suggest would be just moving the furniture around.

 

Having your image files on a fast SSD does have an effect in terms of saving the files but it is really the amount of RAM, the graphics card and the processor speed that determine how fast you can work in Photoshop. I have tested raw conversions in ACR on several computers and various disks and the surprising result is that the disk on which the files were on does not matter in terms of time to convert the raw file - that is determined by the computer itself and not the drive. But the drive on which the files are contained does matter for saving the files when internal SSDs are fastest. All the tests I did had the OS and Photoshop on an internal SSD drive which is always going to be the best.

 

 

 

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This doesn't answer your main question, but you may not need a case for the SSD. A few months ago, I bought a refurbished (looks brand new to me) DELL tower with a 256 MB SSD and lots of RAM. I decided to add a 2 TB conventional HD for storage. When I opened up my computer, I discovered that there was no slot for the new 3.5 inch HD, which is unusual. I spoke to a computer repair guy, and he told me to flip the drive over and just lay it face-down inside the tower. This works fine, so you might be able to do the same with your SSD. Good luck.

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1 hour ago, Phil said:

 

 

Then there is Thunderbolt 3 which has 40 gb/sec data transfer speed capacity. 

 

https://www.howtogeek.com/449991/thunderbolt-3-vs.-usb-c-whats-the-difference/

 

Putting your image editing s/w on the SSD will certainly speed it up - but only if the SSD is used with a fast connection protocol.  Otherwise the SSD's speed is wasted.

 

 

 

I prefer to have the speed on the desktop, as I really only use my laptop when I go to tadeshows.  98% of my work is done on the desktop.  I can only find Macs with thunderbolt, so that lets me out.  My desktop does have USB 3 though.  

 

52 minutes ago, MDM said:

Generally you should run your applications from the same drive as the operating system so running Photoshop from an external drive is not likely to give you any speed boost. Given that the laptop is old anyway doing what you suggest would be just moving the furniture around.

 

Having your image files on a fast SSD does have an effect in terms of saving the files but it is really the amount of RAM, the graphics card and the processor speed that determine how fast you can work in Photoshop. I have tested raw conversions in ACR on several computers and various disks and the surprising result is that the disk on which the files were on does not matter in terms of time to convert the raw file - that is determined by the computer itself and not the drive. But the drive on which the files are contained does matter for saving the files when internal SSDs are fastest. All the tests I did had the OS and Photoshop on an internal SSD drive which is always going to be the best.

 

 

 

 

 

I have 12GB of RAM, so that is plenty.  But I do tend to have a lot of the memory hording apps running at the same time when I move files from one app to the other.  I can up my RAM to 32GB, might add some.  But I do have the hard drive, just have to think what to do with it.

 

Jill

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6 minutes ago, John Mitchell said:

This doesn't answer your main question, but you may not need a case for the SSD. A few months ago, I bought a refurbished (looks brand new to me) DELL tower with a 256 MB SSD and lots of RAM. I decided to add a 2 TB conventional HD for storage. When I opened up my computer, I discovered that there was no slot for the new 3.5 inch HD, which is unusual. I spoke to a computer repair guy, and he told me to flip the drive over and just lay it face-down inside the tower. This works fine, so you might be able to do the same with your SSD. Good luck.

 

My son was going to move everything over to the SSD, Windows and all the heavy duty software, but when he opened my desktop, he said he would need a housing.  So he closed it up and it never got put in.  Now this expensive drive sits in a drawer.  I'll have to do some research.  My next laptop will probably have an SSD, except I travel with it alot, and hate to carry extra drives for all the files.  I have most in the cloud, but sometimes I don't have wifi or data access.

 

Jill

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1 hour ago, Jill Morgan said:

 

My son was going to move everything over to the SSD, Windows and all the heavy duty software, but when he opened my desktop, he said he would need a housing.  So he closed it up and it never got put in.  Now this expensive drive sits in a drawer.  I'll have to do some research.  My next laptop will probably have an SSD, except I travel with it alot, and hate to carry extra drives for all the files.  I have most in the cloud, but sometimes I don't have wifi or data access.

 

Jill

does your external ssd look like one of these 2.5" things?

b7a2da47-27b6-4a50-86f1-eaecc4f8f162_1.4f578f7fb818d8170862939ac96f0baa.jpeg

 

all you need is one of these cables (usb 3 to sata) to run it off your laptop. i use the startech brand

 

61BlONxnAPL._AC_SX425_.jpg

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1 hour ago, Jill Morgan said:

 

My son was going to move everything over to the SSD, Windows and all the heavy duty software, but when he opened my desktop, he said he would need a housing.  So he closed it up and it never got put in.  Now this expensive drive sits in a drawer.  I'll have to do some research.  My next laptop will probably have an SSD, except I travel with it alot, and hate to carry extra drives for all the files.  I have most in the cloud, but sometimes I don't have wifi or data access.

 

Jill

 

The SSD certainly is a lot faster, and the new computer boots almost instantly. In addition to the new 2 TB drive that I recently installed (sort of), I have two external HD's. Not sure why I need all that space as I'm not a "volume shooter". However, TB's are relatively cheap now.

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If your older laptop has a cd/dvd drive there are adapters available whereby you remove the drive (mine had 1 screw holding it in) and place your SSD in the adapter and slip it back in put the screw in and your done.  No disassembly required.

https://www.amazon.com/Highfine-Universal-SSD-HDD-Enclosures/dp/B01MRI8YFN/ref=sr_1_3?dchild=1&keywords=cd+drive+ssd+adapter&qid=1590886431&sr=8-3

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12 hours ago, Johnnie5 said:

If your older laptop has a cd/dvd drive there are adapters available whereby you remove the drive (mine had 1 screw holding it in) and place your SSD in the adapter and slip it back in put the screw in and your done.  No disassembly required.

https://www.amazon.com/Highfine-Universal-SSD-HDD-Enclosures/dp/B01MRI8YFN/ref=sr_1_3?dchild=1&keywords=cd+drive+ssd+adapter&qid=1590886431&sr=8-3

 

Think I'll get something like that but for putting in my desktop.  Laptop too old (it's 9 years old) so need a new one and new one will come with SSD. Might use that though for extra storage for the laptopl

 

I think one of my projects during this "down time" will be cleaning out my hard drive (almost 1 TB full) so I can clone it to the SSD drive then use the HD for storage.  Should I move the old drive or use the bios to redirect the main drive?  Which would be the simplest?  I use my HD as my Plex Server, so it has a lot of video files on it.  Gonna take awhile to move all those.  Not to mention all my business files, but I do have those saved on external drives and in the cloud.

 

Jill

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11 hours ago, Jill Morgan said:

 

Think I'll get something like that but for putting in my desktop.  Laptop too old (it's 9 years old) so need a new one and new one will come with SSD. Might use that though for extra storage for the laptopl

 

I think one of my projects during this "down time" will be cleaning out my hard drive (almost 1 TB full) so I can clone it to the SSD drive then use the HD for storage.  Should I move the old drive or use the bios to redirect the main drive?  Which would be the simplest?  I use my HD as my Plex Server, so it has a lot of video files on it.  Gonna take awhile to move all those.  Not to mention all my business files, but I do have those saved on external drives and in the cloud.

 

Jill


I got a SSD drive M.2 form factor for a Dell laptop that came with a slow 2 GB spinning drive.  I put the 512 MG drive in the proper slot and used Macrium Reflect to clone the OS and apps to it, and did the jiggery pokery to make the SSD a boot drive while leaving a secondary boot on the other drive until I was sure of what had happened.  There's a very good YouTube how-to video on the procedure (Googling Macrium Reflect, moving OS to SSD card, YouTube should get you there).  The SSD drive is now the C drive.  The spinning drive is for data -- photos, music, videos, etc.

 

The laptop is for emergency use, back up for photos, and for hooking up to a smart TV to play videos.   You might consider getting a bigger internal spinning drive if you have lots of files on a smaller one.  My understanding is that hard drives perform better if they're less than 2/3rds full. 

 

Solid State Drives really improve boot time.  Minimum size I'd recommend would be 512 MG.   I have a Samsung if I remember correctly.   These also run better if they're not completely full, too, and neither drives last forever. 

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Here is the adapter for your desktop.  https://www.amazon.com/Valuegist-Internal-Mounting-Bracket-Adapter/dp/B07GLSL6DF/ref=sr_1_2_sspa?crid=186OJQQCPLVNN&dchild=1&keywords=ssd+adapter+2.5+to+3.5&qid=1591032135&sprefix=ssd+adapter%2Caps%2C205&sr=8-2-spons&psc=1&spLa=ZW5jcnlwdGVkUXVhbGlmaWVyPUExSVBFVUxOSkVJSlpGJmVuY3J5cHRlZElkPUEwOTg2MDE0MjBPVlQ3NVlCNjVRTSZlbmNyeXB0ZWRBZElkPUEwMTgzMjI1M1g5VFdWUk1WUVFPJndpZGdldE5hbWU9c3BfYXRmJmFjdGlvbj1jbGlja1JlZGlyZWN0JmRvTm90TG9nQ2xpY2s9dHJ1ZQ==

 

I bought a Crucial brand SSD for my laptop and they provide cloning software via download to move you operating system over to the new drive.  SSD drives are really cheap now.  I think I would get at least a 500gb or 1TB and just put all the software on that for the desktop and have separate drive for file storage.  You would be surprised what an SSD could do for your laptop and might allow you to get a few more years out of it. 

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So let's think about what you need to run PS optimally, you need 1 real hard drive and 2 other "virtual" partitions on a 2nd hard drive.The first hard drive is where you install PS and keep your catalogues of files (like your C drive), and the separate physical HD is used for partitions - "PS scratch" (see PS preferences to assign it) and "Bridge cache" (see cache management" in bridge preferences). You create these virtual drives in your Windows computer management - basically your borrowing space on an existing drive and making a new partitions. 

 

Photoshop likes these virtual drive because it can hand off certain memory intensive functions in the background while it is processing data, thus taking advantage of the processing power of your computer. So why 2 Hard drives? Because having these virtual drives on the same physical disc as your C drive IS BAD, you're forcing Photoshop to stop and start the hand-off process on the same disc. So your virtual drives need to reside on a physically different hard drive, let's call it D. These virtual drives don't have to be very big, and if you install an extra 1T Hard drive, I'd assign 100G each for scratch and cache, the balance for back up and file storage. You can easily create multiple VHDs on this big disc.

 

Now I think you said that there isn't an internal bay for more than 1 HD in your computer? I find this to be really, really odd unless your computer is so old or so basic that you may not have the processing power to handle 64-bit versions of windows, photoshop and other software. If that's the case, I think you need to seriously think about a new computer. I would not consider using an external drive environment for my OS.

 

What about using your new SS for the operating system only and applications on the bigger standard drive? Good idea ....but be careful, since cloning the OS will leave the old OS in place you must assign the new hard drive in BIOS as the boot drive. Use software like partition wizard to clone the operating system over carefully, there are several options you need to understand. So now you will need a minimum of 3 hard drives...1. your SS drive for Windows OS, 2. a second hard drive for applications, and 3. a third hard drive for your "virtual" partitions and backup storage.

 

I personally don't like the idea of cloning over a hard drive because the old APPs have many registry entries and install files pointing at the old OS. So if you clone over the OS, you may need to format the old hard drive and re-install your applications...setting windows to always install everything in your "D Drive". This is tricky and best done when setting up a new computer, is time consuming but will speed up your computer. Good luck, Back up everything!

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3 hours ago, formerly snappyoncalifornia said:

 

Now I think you said that there isn't an internal bay for more than 1 HD in your computer? I find this to be really, really odd unless your computer is so old or so basic that you may not have the processing power to handle 64-bit versions of windows, photoshop and other software. If that's the case, I think you need to seriously think about a new computer. I would not consider using an external drive environment for my OS.

 

What about using your new SS for the operating system only and applications on the bigger standard drive? Good idea ....but be careful, since cloning the OS will leave the old OS in place you must assign the new hard drive in BIOS as the boot drive. Use software like partition wizard to clone the operating system over carefully, there are several options you need to understand. So now you will need a minimum of 3 hard drives...1. your SS drive for Windows OS, 2. a second hard drive for applications, and 3. a third hard drive for your "virtual" partitions and backup storage.

 

I personally don't like the idea of cloning over a hard drive because the old APPs have many registry entries and install files pointing at the old OS. So if you clone over the OS, you may need to format the old hard drive and re-install your applications...setting windows to always install everything in your "D Drive". This is tricky and best done when setting up a new computer, is time consuming but will speed up your computer. Good luck, Back up everything!

 

Realized my ssd is a 960GB so lots of space on it.

 

My laptop has no bays, the desktop has a few.  Desktop is only 2 years old. Ordered the mounting hardware today.  Also going to get an ssd for the aging laptop and put the current HDD in the CD/DVD slot.  Ordered the mounting hardware for that as well, but haven't ordered the drive yet.  Not sure what size I want to get for it.  I don't use it that much, except at trade shows (so right now I just use it to Watch Britbox on the tv as my Amazon Fire doesn't have Britbox.). Be nice to speed these computers up, especially the laptop as it does creek along.

 

Thanks for all the advice

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