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Old 02-01-2017, 07:53 AM
VRW VRW is offline
Join Date: Sep 2007
Posts: 1,318
Default Re: Which External Hard Drive?

Originally Posted by richiejazz View Post
Sessions in Logic and Pro Tools started getting slow and crashing with multiple tracks pulling out big guns like Trillian and Omnisphere - BUT I think this is mainly down to me still using my system SSD to store and load the sessions from.

What Im confused about is that many people are saying USB 2.0 is no good at all, even though I have been running pretty heavy stuff this way for some time. Is that success down to having a 7200BPM external HDD?
Well, you know, like many others here I have used several types of externals and connections through the years myself and, yes, to a certain degree even USB 2 with a 7200rpm drive can work. I used this configuration myself for a couple of months with PT back in the day.
However I noticed my system to be sluggish then and even received errors with high track counts from time to time which went away immediately when I replaced the USB 2 drives with Firewire 800/7200rpm drives.
And this was not the only experience with USB 2 externals and Pro Tools I have had over the years which led me to not recommend it for the use with PT anymore (besides the fact that Avid never have approved it for the use with Pro Tools).
Again, from my personal experience it may work to a certain degree but never will be that reliable, stable and issue free like 7200rpm/Firewire 800 externals.
So it´s simply not worth the lower price at the end of the day.

And, yes again, your success in running the USB 2 is down to having used a 7200rpm drive at least. With anything slower you won´t succeed at all with Pro Tools.

Originally Posted by richiejazz View Post
This brings me onto my second point that Seagate themselves told me that RPM speed on external hard drives is TOTALLY IRRELEVANT when using USB. This is after seeing lots of advice saying you MUST have at least 7200RPM and that 54000 is useless. Who is correct?
Sorry but in this particular case the guy from Seagate was completely wrong obviously as in the audio recording world RPM speed is a crucial thing to consider as for drives. As mentioned before you can use a USB 2/7200rpm external with Pro Tools to a certain degree even if it´s not recommended and not the best idea actually. Unlike a USB 2/5400rpm external which will not work with Pro Tools finally.

It´s just that a USB 2/7200rpm drive will run at approximately 20-30mb/s, a FW800/7200rpm drive at about 60-70mb/s (which will be the slowest recommended drive by Digidesign/Avid) and a USB 2/5400rpm will be at about 10-20mb/s.
You see, there is a hell of a difference in speed at the end of the day.
Today average SATA SSDs like the Samsung Evo/Pro series run between 300-500mb/s, Apple Flash drives even go by 500-700mb/s.

And, yes, of course, this will influence the way your system works.
I have had it all through the years, for the OS/systems drives, internal drives as well as for external drives and I tell you it does make a significant difference which drive(s) you use finally. Like mentioned before, of course you can use slower drives and it still may work in a way but it can work really great and issue free if you use faster drives for your recording system.

In 2012 I bought an i7 Quad Core Mini which came with an 1TB 5400rpm internal system drive for example. Even if I used Firewire 800/7200rpm externals it gave me no good performance with Pro Tools then. System got stucked, overloaded, errors etc.
I replaced it with an 7200rpm HDD and the troubles went away. Simple as that. Very few times with really many many tracks, VIs and stuff I still saw problems. So one day I decided to replace my 7200rpm HDD with an Samsung Pro SSD and, guess what? Never had any errors or overloads anymore.
When those SSDs got more affordable later I decided to replace my Firewire 800/7200rpm externals with another large internal Samsung Pro SSD and I couldn't´t believe how this Mini system started to fly from then on. What a noticeable improvement in performance this was again!

Originally Posted by richiejazz View Post
Which brings me onto Firewire - which I presume is the best option to go for given the spec of my ageing machine - however FW800 drives seem few and far between these days, the best looking one to me seems to be the Glyph studio at 2TB. Also does RPM have more/less/the same impact on using FW?
Yes. Definitely yes in your particular case as your MacBook only offers USB 2 and FW800.
The good thing with FW is that you can chain a certain number of drives without any complications and it will work well with Pro Tools.
And, yes again, even with FW RPM has an impact for the work with Pro Tools.
What you want are 1-3 (depending on your needs...separate drives for your Pro Tools sessions+audio and your VI samples) Firewire 800/7200rpm externals which you may daisy chain finally and everything should be fine.
If you are using sessions with more than about 25 tracks per session you may spread out your audio files to 2 different drives because 25-30 tracks at the max will be the limit for one FW/7200rpm external for the use with Pro Tools. This limit was set by Digidesign/Avid once as well as got confirmed by personal usage over the years.
If you go beyond 30 tracks with one FW800 drive only you will see some errors etc from time to time again.

Originally Posted by richiejazz View Post
the best looking one to me seems to be the Glyph studio at 2TB. Also does RPM have more/less/the same impact on using FW?
Glyph always have been great drives for Pro Tools but if you are in the US you may look at OWC Firewire/7200rpm drives as well. Those are PT approved as well and will be even more affordable.
I used several external LaCie Firewire/7200rpm drives with Pro Tools successfully too which may be interesting for you as well.

I would recommend getting 3 Firewire drives (two for your Pro Tools audio files and one for your VI samples) and building a chain. If you are using any Firewire audio interface you may put it at the last piece in the chain.
Put one FW external which comes with a power supply as the first piece in the chain, the other two (even if bus powered only) behind and you will be good to go.
Just make sure these FW drives all have two FW ports so that you can use it in a chain successfully.


Let me say it again, you rather may use 2 or even 3 different (smaller) drives to spread your files and samples instead of running all your stuff from one single drive. With Firewire/7200rpm this will be the recommended and best working solution.
Today with Apple Flash drives (500-700mb/s compared to 60-70mb/s of the Firewire/7200rpm drives) you can run everything from one drive only if you want it but most professionals still use separate drives for Pro tools audio and VI samples just for reliability and stability even with SSDs and Flash drives.
With Firewire/7200rpm drives you certainly will not get happy on using one drive for all only at the end of the day. Believe me.

Well, I forgot to mention your OS/system drive. Please, make sure you use a 7200rpm HDD at least. No 5400rpm drive. SSDs are nice but not essential with your Macbook. If you are not using a 7200rpm HDD for your system drive already, check it out there. It´s not too expensive.

If you still may have any older 7200rpm Laptop drive (2.5") or any 2.5" SSD you of course may consider putting such a one into such an external FW enclosure as well (for your external FW drives).

Wishing you the best of success!

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Old 02-01-2017, 01:42 PM
Southsidemusic's Avatar
Southsidemusic Southsidemusic is offline
Join Date: Dec 2011
Location: Stockholm - Sweden
Posts: 11,615
Default Re: Which External Hard Drive?

Ouch !!

Just ran into a wall of text
Best Regards

South Side Music Group
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Old 02-04-2017, 11:59 AM
richiejazz richiejazz is offline
Join Date: Oct 2007
Posts: 3
Default Re: Which External Hard Drive?

Wow, thanks very much VRW. Amazing amount of info there - confirmed a lot of what I suspected and good to know!

I've gone with a Glyph Studio 2TB for now - very expensive but hopefully worth it. One of few 2TB Firewire options for all my samples too.
Will get another smaller drive soon to run my sessions from and chain them.

Actually just realised - got the original HDD from my MacBook that was taken out after I had to send it for repair a few years ago and since replaced with my SSD. Just been using it for backing up and noticed its 7200RPM. I presumed it would be 5400.

If I can can firewire this with an enclosure I'll be good to go!!
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