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Suggestions For Moving Photos To External Drive.



  • Brian Lawson Community moderator

    If all you were doing is moving your photos to an external drive, the speed of that drive isn’t going to have much of an impact on performance. The only time the speed will come in to play it when you’re actually reading the files and the memory so they can be edited.

    Any of those drives would do you just fine.

  • W. Witherspoon

    I am just wanting a drive that works well with ON1 for editing, whether it would be a small SSD or 3.5. I have a 3.5 drive for BU which seems fine for that purpose. So if the SSD performs as well or better than the 3.5 drive than i will consider one of them I mentioned before. It seems awhile back Hudson raved about the T7 Samsung.

    My internal seems to always have worked well but as I said it is filling up.

    Thanks again.

  • Brian Lawson Community moderator

    Photo RAW does not care about what kind of drive it is

    Another factor to consider is how will that new drive be connected to your iMac? You may get a blazingly fast drive (and pay for all that speed) only to have the connection limiting the throughput and slowing every thing down making all that speed wasted.

    Which iMac are you running?

  • W. Witherspoon

    This is what I am trying to figure out. What is the best external drive using the connections I have for editing my photos at a reasonable price? I have most direct connections taken up including one USB port for my ON1 scratch drive. I have an old Firewire 800 Bay with drives installed using one Thunderbolt 2 but it can be changed if I need too. The other Thunderbolt 2 is for an external monitor.

    27" iMac late 2015, 4GHZ Quad Core i7, 24GB memory, AMD Radion R9 M395X4GB


  • Brian Lawson Community moderator

    I've already told you it isn't going to matter! Speed only counts when actually reading the file from the drive then it has to be transferred across which ever connection it is hooked up to. That can create a bottle neck and slow things down a bit but I seriously doubt you're going to notice those few nanoseconds.

    Here are the relative speeds of the ports: Thunderbolt 3 > USB 3

    There is another factor and that is the number of available ports. How many of your ports are all ready in use? Which are they and what are they being used for?

    Here is how I configured my mini which has a similar port configuration to your iMac. 

    • USB 3: Lightning cable lying loose on my desk for connecting iPhone, wireless keyboard, and wireless trackpad as needed for recharging or syncing, etc. Available if another USB port is needed.
    • USB 3: Connected to my BenQ monitor. Needed for calibrating it.
    • Thunderbolt 3: Connected to a Thunderbolt 3 dock for port expansion. I've got a lot of toys.
    • Thunderbolt 3: Scratch drive SSD; also holds PerfectBrowseCache

    On the dock I have:

    • Thunderbolt 3: Time Machine backup SSD
    • Thunderbolt 3: back to mini
    • USB 3: Wacom Tablet
    • USB 3: Old hybrid drive I pulled from a laptop years ago when its drive was upgraded which stores my Pictures folder. (I've tweaked the OS to move it there from my User's Home directory.) It also hold miscellaneous other docs
    • 2 unused USB ports: One of the front, another on the back. Used for connecting my daily backup SSD, flatbed scanner, SD card reader or whatever else needs a temporary USB hookup.
    • Somewhere or another I've got a Nikon Coolscan 4000 ED hooked into the dock as well.

    I'm sorry, I'm not going to tell you what to buy. That is your decision to make. Look at the port speeds and figure out what your needs are for the available ports and factor that into your purchase. Don't forget you can buy a naked SSD and an external enclosure and build your own.

  • W. Witherspoon

    Brian, I believe you misunderstood me. I am not asking you to tell me what to buy. I was hoping to hear from other users what they use for an external drive for editing and their experience.


    I have a five year old Mac which I had allowed to get clogged up (2TB drive) and the machine had started to wheeze badly when editing. I have just bought a 4 TB Samsung T7 Shield connected via a USB 2 port. I have shifted thousands of photos to the Samsung. I find the photos load fast and editing speed has improved. Just my experience! (I had to reformat the drive to be able to have apple photos library working on it).

  • W. Witherspoon

    I am considering the 4 TB Samsung T7 since I cannot find a thunderbolt 2 drive. I assume it may perform a little faster than a HDD hooked up to a USB 3 port. Also I am hoping it will perform as well as my internal fusion drive. My six year old is not wheezing yet; just trying to keep it from happening since I am down to 400gb of space left. With Black Friday near it may be a good time to find one. Thank you for your response Guy.

  • Mike Dunetts

    I echo Guy Perkins - had a 27" iMac with a 2GB fusion drive a while back, moved my photos/sidecars etc. to an external SSD. Have used Samsung T5, then a T7 when I outgrew that.  The SSDs were much faster than the fusion when loading the program and in editing/when reading/writing to disk.  I suspect you will notice a similar improvement with your iMac.  I traded in the iMac when the fusion drive performance deteriorated, now have a MacBook Pro.  I also have a CalDigit hub - easier to plug everything in.  I have had good experience with Samsung SSDs, FYI...

    Big advantage with external drives is that you can clone them when you run out of space and have to upgrade to a larger SSD.

  • W. Witherspoon

    It would seem the T7 is the best idea for my iMac at a reasonable cost. I noticed there is now a T9 that is faster but probably not of any benefit for my iMac unless I have to move on to another computer. Even then technology may change by the time I update my computer and may want to use Thunderbolt. Thanks for the comments.


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