Optimizing Performance for ON1 Applications
These are some basic steps that help with overall performance when using ON1 Apps:
- Keep your computer up to date. If it is over four years old or was a bargain when you bought it, it probably won’t work well for image processing
- GPU and RAM are the most important factors if you upgrade your computer
- Keep the operating system, video card drivers, and your ON1 software up to date
- Keep your photos on fast SSD drives
- If you catalog your photos, consider turning down Keyword AI and the preview size.
- Keep your editing to the minimum. The number of retouching strokes, brush strokes, local adjustments, and filters all add up to impact performance.
The minimum system requirements are just that, the minimum to operate with modest-sized photos and displays as a standalone application. You will have a better experience if you have greater than the minimum. This is especially true if:
- You use the application as a plugin where the host application is also using significant resources like Adobe Photoshop.
- Your files are large, such as over 30 megapixels.
- You have a 4K or larger display.
Below, we will detail the computer components, how they are utilized by ON1 apps, and what we recommend.
We update our apps frequently to add features, support for new cameras, and technologies, as well as fix bugs and improve performance. When the app tells you to update, you should do it promptly.
ON1 apps are available for modern Windows and macOS operating systems. Utilizing the latest operating system for your platform can have a big impact on performance. Keeping up to date protects your security, ensures you have the latest drivers, and supporting libraries that we may need. Often times the latest versions will be faster, especially for machine learning tasks. We also focus most of our testing on the last versions of the operating systems.
The central processor is the “brain” of your computer if you will. For our apps it is used primarily for browsing photos, exporting, and some of the retouching tools. Listed below are examples of a current (as of 2023) cpus.
Examples of Recommend CPUs:
Intel i7-10000 series
AMD Ryzen 7 5000X series
These examples typically start with 8-cores (16-threads) and are considered to be about equal in terms of price/performance. In general, the more cores/threads, the better the application will perform in processor-intensive tasks.
You will want to refer to your CPU’s support page to make sure you have the latest drivers installed. CPU drivers do receive updates and can help with performance and stability, not just with ON1 Photo RAW, but your system in general can benefit.
Memory is used to operate on the current photo as well as cache other photos and previews to increase speed. Ideally, you would want to have 16GB or more memory. Often, in a digital workflow you are running more than one application. Many customers use at least one or two Adobe products at the same time as ON1 Photo RAW. Having more memory for all of your workflow apps and operating system will provide a better overall experience. Closing other applications can reduce the amount of memory used if they are not needed. If your GPU shares this memory, as it does on Apple Silicon systems, consider having 32GB instead.
Storage, or hard disks, are used to store your photos as well as cache previews and data for increased performance. Ideally, you want both your operating system and any extra storage to be using some form of solid state storage. Disk read and write speed is extremely important when it comes to reading files and writing out our data (side car data and cache). A general comparison of an spinning HDD vs an SSD; an HDD will have read speed at around 250MB/s. NVMe-based SSD’s can get up to around 6,000MB/s for read speed. If you must use spinning hard disks, make sure your photos and cache locations are on different disks. It is important to keep enough space on your system drive for the caches and potential memory swapping. A good rule of thumb is to keep at least 20% of your drive vacant. If you store your photos on a NAS (network area storage) you should make sure you have gigabit ethernet. Keep in mind that spinning disks are designed to sleep when no in active use. When we access a spinning disk, it may take several seconds to come up to speed before we can read or write data to it.
Video Card (GPU)
ON1 apps make extensive use of your video card. In fact the GPU does more of the work in processing than the CPU does. Having a modern GPU with 8GB of VRAM and updated drivers can make a huge difference in performance. You will want to check with your manufacturer’s website to download and install the latest driver. Typically, they will have an auto-update software you can install to make sure your drivers stay up to date. This is preferred to the built-in Windows update or OEM updaters, which can be significantly out of date.
Examples for Recommended Video Cards:
NVIDIA 30xx series
AMD Radeon RX 6000 series
Most modern Intel integrated video cards will work but lack in performance compared to dedicated video cards and are not recommended. (Intel Integrated Chipsets)
Many desktop PC’s do allow for you to upgrade many of these components, you will want to refer to your owner’s manual for what kind of upgrades can work with your PC. If you have a custom built PC, you would want to refer to the manual for the motherboard as well as make sure your power supply can accommodate many of the newer power-hungry components.
The display is your window into your photos. Having a good display can make your photo look much better. Today high-dpi displays such as 4K displays are common and inexpensive. However the higher the resolution display you have, the more powerful a GPU you may need to drive it. A 4k display has four times as many pixels as the 1080p displays that were popular a few years ago. That means four times as much VRAM is used and four times as many pixels need to be rendered. If you upgrade your display, you should consider upgrading your GPU at the same time.
Calibrating your display is important too. This ensures that your display is accurately showing you what your photos look like. This is the first step in a color-managed workflow. If you plan to share your photos or print them, this is a critical step in accuracy.
Many users have more than one display attached. This can expand your workspace so you can have multiple apps open at once. Keep in mind that each display may look different if they are not calibrated well and that each display increases the amount of VRAM needed to support them.
Megapixels and File Sizes
As digital cameras continue to evolve, and some of them are in the 100MP range, these native sizes are becoming really large. If you are upgrading your camera, and not the hardware to process these images with, you are going to notice the performance of the application will degrade. So keep this in mind as you decide to upgrade to a new camera, that the computer you use to process these images on also needs to keep up too.
Since a lot of Apple Mac hardware is integrated, it’s difficult to make upgrades like you can in a desktop PC. You will want to take a similar approach in terms of making sure your operating system is running the latest that Apple supports, if you use external storage, make sure that external storage is an SSD and if your Mac supports USB-C, make sure the drive is connected through that connection. If you click on the Apple menu in the upper left corner and select “About this Mac”, you should see some general information about your Mac. The first line to look at is the model and model year. That should be the first line in that dialog. An example would be “Macbook Pro (13-inch, 2020, Four Thunderbolt 3 ports)”. The model year is a good indicator of how well it will perform. The older the Mac, the older the cpu/memory/drive will be. Running a Mac from 2015 in 2023, while it can be used for web browsing and office tasks, you will see it lag in performance for photo editing in all areas compared to a current generation M1 or M2 Mac.
Disk Cleanup (Windows)
When you work in an application, Windows stores a temporary copy of your data file on the hard drive. In some cases we need to create .tmp files and then delete them when you quit the application. Crashes or system errors, however, can prevent us from deleting these files, causing them to take up disk space and create problems. From time to time, run Disk Cleanup to remove temporary files and any other files that are not being used.
- Choose Start, type Disk Cleanup in the Search text box, and choose Disk Cleanup from the Programs list.
- Choose a drive to clean up, if appropriate.
- Select Temporary Files and any other files that you want to delete.
- Click OK.
Defragment the hard disk
As you add, delete, and move files on a hard disk, its available space is no longer a single, contiguous block. If the system does not have enough contiguous space, it saves fragments of files to different locations on the hard drive. It takes ON1 apps longer to read or write a fragmented file than one saved to a contiguous location. On Windows you can optimze your drive using these steps.
- Choose Start, type Defrag, and choose the Degramment and Optimize Drives app.
- Select the drive you wish to defragment
- Click Optimize
Generally speaking, macOS hard disks don’t need defragmenting. macOS defragments small files automatically. For more robust defragmentation or to troubleshoot hard disk problems on Mac OS, use Apple Disk Utility. Or, use a third-party utility such as Micromat Tech Tool Pro. See About disk optimization with Mac OS X on the Apple support website.
Some caches on both platforms may not be purged correctly without relaunching the app or rebooting your computer as well. Both of these are good troubleshooting steps.
Optimal Settings in ON1 Photo RAW
Aside from hardware and operating system considerations, there are configuration and usage patterns in ON1 applications that can improve your performance and experience.
The Preferences contain many options that can impact your performance. They are detailed completely in the user guide. Here we will discuss the most impactful options.
This option controls what CPU or GPUs are used for AI inference operations. Auto is the best option for performance. We have profiled all of our AI models and know which hardware they are optimized for. Only change this option to the CPU if you are experiencing unexpected results from AI functions such as NoNoise AI or Resize AI.
The system memory and VRAM usage sliders control what portion of these resources we are allowed to use. The default is 80%. Do not decrease these unless you are having trouble using other applications at the same time.
This option adjusts how much of the CPU resources can be used for cataloging in the background in Browse. Only adjust this down if you are experiencing sluggish performance, generally on older 4 core CPUs. At the normal setting, cataloging will use half of your CPU cores. Note, it is normal to hear your fan on your computer when cataloging. Think of it like the fan in your car.
The Browse cache stores smaller preview versions of your photos once they have been viewed in Browse. This makes viewing them again faster in the future. By default, the Browse cache is set to 5Gb. This is typically enough space unless you work with a large number of active photos (sports and weddings) and you do not use the cataloged folder feature. Note: the Browse cache slider does not limit the cataloged folder cache or any other caches.
Avoid moving your cache folder location unless your system drive is a spinning HHD or you have a small system drive. If you can move your cache to a SSD, this will improve Browsing performance. Most times, your OS drive is going to be the fastest drive, storing the cache on that drive will provide the best performance. Remember if you disconnect the volume the cache is on, the cache will be rebuilt at the default location.
Video Card Strength
The video card strength helps balance the brushing performance for older video cards. If you find the brush moves with a stutter, try decreasing it. The other options for Fast Panning and Fast Preview reduce the preview quality temporarily while you zoom and pan and make these operations faster and smoother. Don’t disable them unless you have a great video card.
The GPU Render option should always be on. It is only available for troubleshooting rendering issues on old GPUs.
Keyword AI is a processor-intensive activity and can have a big impact on cataloging performance. When you create a cataloged folder, you can choose to use it or not. The biggest performance impact is Face Detection. If you do not care to search by faces, leave this option off.
Automatic Lens Correction
Applying Lens Correction Automatically (Files tab) can have an adverse affect on browsing and cataloging performance. You can still enable lens correction in Edit on a photo-by-photo basis when needed. If you work with a compact or micro 4:3 camera, you may consider enabling this option.
Cataloging & Cataloged Folders
Cataloging a folder unlocks many of the advanced digital asset management features in ON1 Photo RAW. It lets you search across folders, publish to Cloud Sync, and create Smart Albums. It also makes general browsing of these folders faster.
Cataloging works by monitoring the folder structure you assign it. It will detect any changes such as added, changed, or removed photos or folders. It will index the metadata for each photo to make searching possible. It will also generate smaller preview versions of photos to make browsing faster.
Cataloging works in the background while you do your normal work. You should not feel an impact from cataloging. If you do, try turning down the CPU usage in the preferences. Cataloging can take a long time to complete. If you assign a new cataloged folder, keep your computer from sleeping and leave Photo RAW running in the foreground so it can continue to work. If the app is in the background or the computer is asleep, or you leave it in Edit or Resize mode, cataloging is paused.
The settings you select for your cataloged folder, as well as the photo storage location, can have a large impact on cataloging performance and the amount of disk space the cache needs. The default settings in ON1 Photo RAW 2023.5 and below are designed for maximum feature functionality, but also are the slowest and use the most disk space. You can reduce the cataloging overhead in these versions by changing these options.
- In Keyword AI, in the preferences, disable it for cataloged folders or at least turn off Face Detection.
- In the Catalog Preview size option, use the small or medium instead of standard option
The default settings in ON1 Photo RAW 2024 and above are tuned to balance performance and function. You can change the cataloging properties by right-clicking and selecting Catalog Properties.
- Preview Size — Adjusts the size of the previews created and stored in the disk cache. Embedded uses the JPG that is embedded in most raw files. This is the fastest option, but will be the least accurate until you edit the photo. Medium will generate high-quality thumbnails that are accurate. Standard will generate high-quality thumbnails as well as fit sized preview. This option takes the longest to catalog and the most space on disk, but provides the fastest, most accurate browsing experience.
- Scan Frequency — This adjusts how often your folder structure is scanned for changes. Scanning on its own is not resource-intensive in most cases. You can always pause scanning if needed as well. Keep in mind, unlike Lightroom, when you browse to a folder, it will update its contents automatically.
- Keyword AI — This has the biggest impact on the time cataloging takes. You can choose to disable Keyword AI if you don’t care for it, or you can use the basic option, which uses a sub-set of the options in the preferences that do run quickly. Or you can use your preferences settings.
Cloud Sync is similar to cataloging. It is a background task that keeps your published photos, folders, albums, and settings in sync across all of your devices. You should not feel a performance impact while Cloud Sync is working. However, it is the lowest-priority background task and thus the slowest to complete. Publishing photos to Cloud Sync requires generating editable proxy versions of each photo and uploading to the cloud. This can take up to 20 seconds per photo in some cases. Cloud Sync can also only work when the device is not asleep, Photo RAW is running in the foreground, and you have an internet connection. If you want your photos to publish as fast as possible set your computer to not sleep and leave Photo RAW as the foreground application. In the Cloud Sync progress window, enable Turbo mode which lets it use more of the CPU. Let it run overnight or over a weekend when you don’t need to do other things. The same is true on mobile devices, if the device goes to sleep, it can no longer sync.
The option to autowrite xmp metadata to non-raw files requires a lot of disk reading and writing and can impact performance, especially on spinning HDDs. If you are not using your photos across other applications that need metadata, leave this feature off.
Order of Processing
ON1 applications, and specifically ON1 Photo RAW are non-destructive editors. Everything you do is a live adjustment. There is no “flattening” like in Photoshop where you can’t adjust something after you put something on top of it. That means the more you do, the more complex your edits, the harder it is for your GPU to render all the changes. Photo RAW is unique in the breadth of flexibility in non-destructive editing it offers. It is important to understand the processing pipeline and try to work in the proper workflow order to maintain the best performance.
First, each layer in a photo can have its own set of non-destructive settings. Think of a multi-layered file as a collection of individual raw photos. Each photo is still independent.
Each layer starts with the demosaiced linear raw data. This is the base of the photo. On top of that is applied NoNoise AI if you are using it. Then any legacy retouching tools such as content-aware crop, Perfect Eraser, clone stamp, and the retouching tool. These are all CPU algorithms that are slow and must be done at the bottom of the pipeline to keep things above performant. Next comes the raw processing rendering. Think of this as the things you adjust in Develop and Local Adjustments. On top of that comes Sky Swap AI and Portrait AI, and last is Effects. If you need to adjust options low in the pipeline after adding many features like Sky Swap or Effects, it can lag as it must re-render everything above the step you are editing. Trying to edit in this order will make things faster.
- Noise Reduction
- Spot retouching
- Local Adjustments
- Transform, Liquify
- Sky Swap AI
- Portrait AI
Masking and Retouching
The masking and retouching tools in ON1 Photo RAW are all stored as instructions as well. If you make hundreds of brush strokes on a single image, that can affect the performance of the application. When you have done that kind of editing on a file, performance can be significantly affected in all aspects of the application, this includes opening up the file again to continue editing, to the actual act of adding more corrections, masks, filters, etc. If the image you are working on requires a lot of heavy retouching, it’s recommended that after you complete your retouching, you flatten the layer by merging it with another layer or a copy of the current layer. This will burn the retouching and other adjustments into the base pixels rather than keeping them live. This is a good way to increase performance if needed.
Don’t Over Do It
The best way to keep things performant is to do less work. Don’t use NoNoise AI on a photo that doesn’t have significant noise, generally over 1600 ISO. Similarly, don’t use Tack Sharp on photos that are not blurry. It is not a general-purpose sharpener, it is designed for deblurring. Don’t use lens correction unless your photo needs it. Generally, only wide-angle lenses need lens correction.
Reduce the number of filters that you add to your photo. Be methodical and think about what you want your photo to look like and what filters are needed. Over the years, we have seen many user photos that have duplicates of the same filter or even contra-acting filters stacked on top of each other. Try to use the fewest adjustments needed to achieve your goals.