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Monday, 06 March 2017


A Thunderbolt cable (about $35) would have made your data transfer much faster. Thunderbolt is really PCI Express, and runs much faster than Gigabit Ethernet.

SSD's can make old computers sing. I have a flock of 2008 MacBook and MacBook pro computers, and they are wonderfully peppy with an SSD.

" ... the time it takes to upload your data from a backup onto a new computer ... "

An eye blink compared to uploading data to an online/cloud data store. For me it took weeks.

I second your recommendation to consider upgrading an older computer to a solid-state drive (SSD). I performed this operation on both my Mac Pro and Mac Book Pro in 2015. Wow, what a difference.

You're right about the SSD making a huge difference in speed of computers. For over 30 years I had worked on computers and for all those years putting more memory in made the biggest difference. But all that has changed with SSDs.

I too purchased a 1TB Samsung SSD and it was the easiest install of hardware or software I have encountered in years.

If you can't afford or need the 1TB the smaller SSDs are very affordable. Just get one. You will not regret it.

The kicker it the transfer of one disk drive to the new SSD. All you need is an available USB port (Best have USB3.) and a USB cable.

The software provided by Samsung is a no brainer to use. Once the transfer is done swap out the old, and I do mean old, hard drive for the SSD.

Western Digital, WD, recently purchased San Disk probably to make SSDs.

"in which "for-[effing]-ever" is packed into some interminable-seeming but eventually actually finite number of minutes or hours."
There is actually a mathematical way to do this, see for example https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Riemann_sphere, but I don't know if french teachers do this deliberately.

I like your ideas regarding the Macs - I've thought it would be nice to have a stand-alone desk top computer and a laptop. Right now I use a two or three year old 13" Mac Air as my only machine, driving a 27" Retina monitor. I sometimes spend up to two months away from home, and can't figure out how to easily keep two machines updated with the same files. I don't want to get in a situation in front of a client where I realize that the file I need isn't on the Mac Air. Any suggestions?

[Syncing laptops and desktops is the last great frontier. There is no known good way to do it. At least as far as my puny brain can figure out. --Mike]

Don't stop at just a SSD. If you want a real jolt in speed get a SSD that is not a sata connection but goes into a motherboard slot. Intel and Samsung both make these now. They are 4 to 6 times faster that a sata SSD. When my team went to the Canon 5DS (50 megapixel) I also had to upgrade my computer yet again - last time was for the Nikon D800. I got the intel one, only one available at the time, and it made a huge difference in my ability to keep up with the new very large files.

I am using one of the 2012 Minis, also. I think one big advantage of these "old" Minis is you can increase the RAM yourself. I bought mine used and increased the original 4 gb to 16 gb - cheap and simple improvement. Good luck with your Mini.

In the fall of 2014 the 500 GB hard drive in my 17" MacBook Pro laptop (which I use with an external monitor, keyboard, and Wacom "tablet") died (thank god for my policy of DOUBLE back-up for everything — well, almost everything, see below on iTunes) and I replaced it with a 500 GB SSD (don't remember what brand).

The difference the SSD made was utterly astonishing: it was like getting a brand new up-to-date machine (at that time, I'd already had the laptop for four years and the model was, I believe, five years old — incidentally, this was the first time in 27 years that I had a Mac hard drive failure).

It's given ye olde laptop at least another five years of life (I hope), of which, alas, more than two have already passed by niow …

But still: it was the cheapest major upgrade I've every made (although I never was able to figure out how to get iTunes to recognize that I was indeed the same user who had purchased several hundred DRM'd "songs" back in the day … so I suppose I should include that loss as part of the expense of the upgrade).

But I'm curious to see how the new Mini works out for you: it's one of the options that I mull on when I have to remember that one of these days I will indeed have to move on from the current machine.

Hi Mike;

Kevin Mitnick, who knows about computers, says he formats his drives and reloads the OS et all every six months. This gets rid of little things that hide and slow things down.


A couple of years ago I did replace to the HD by an SSD on my 17" MacBook. Yes, it is the single best improovement you can make to your old/new computer, It works much faster. You will enjoy it.

Congratulations on the new computer. I had a Mac Mini before buying my current iMac last year. It wasn't well spec'd, however, so when it started to run out of storage and memory I just jumped to the iMac and had the new computer configured with more memory and storage than I'll ever need. Right. About the only thing I've learned about using computers is to never overestimate your needed memory and storage. You'll always need more. And I did get a 1TB SSD in the iMac. Makes for a nicer user experience.

The local Mac specialist guys who transferred my files told me the Mini was still in good shape and could be updated for only a small cash outlay. Maybe I'll eventually do that and gift it to my stepson.

As Bertie Wooster might say, "That's a computer? It looks like a bally drink-coaster. I should have set my b-and-s on it if I weren't warned."

I'm right there with you on transferring files to a new computer. Just completed loading mine last night. But transferring files is a drop in the bucket compared to setting up a new computer from scratch; installing all the OS updates, downloading and installing editing software, monitor calibration, backup initialization, etc. I recently replaced my old NEC P221W-SV with a BenQ SW2700pt and xrite i1pro and my laptop wouldn't quite drive it properly. So upgraded that to an HP Elitedesk with SSD for OS and conventional drive for data. (This makes the 2nd time I almost switched from PC to Mac, but the current state of discontent with Apple does not leave me warm and fuzzy.) Well, there goes my lens budget for the year. I've been lucky in that I've never had a primary drive failure and lost images, but did have a external drive fail. So I had 0 backup until I replaced with a new external and completed a backup. As close as I want to be to lost images. Just a word of caution for anyone without a backup.

I did the SSD upgrade on my Dell laptop a month ago. I just transferred the overly laden with bloatware original OS install onto the SSD.
All of a sudden, the constipated mess that was my laptop started to run like it was on meth, fast isn't a good enough term. Lightning fast might be closer.
Next up, my Mac mini. It has always run nicely but the hard drive could probably upgraded. It already has the 16 gigs of ram.

I never realized the importance of physically cleaning a computer until one day I pressed the power button and absolutely nothing happened. I ran it over to the local Best Buy where the gentleman removed the cover and showed me that the fan was encased in dog fur. (We have two Samoyeds, and the PC tower was on the floor, under a desk.)

Once the fur was removed and the fan could work again, all was well with the PC. I sheepishly thanked him for the gratis repair, and went home with the PC, and an important lesson.

SSD yes! And clean those fans and vents, especially if you have pets and carpeting and have the computer tucked into a cubby or on the floor beneath the desk. You can pull an entire dust bunny from them if you've never cleaned them and your PC will run much cooler, which will make it faster.

A caveat:

To get a major speed benefit from replacing a mechanical HDD with an SSD, your computer must have a high speed SATA (or direct MB) connection. Many older portables have built-in SATA I interfaces. A new SSD will upgrade reliability, but, at least in my case, have no noticeable effect on speed.

I knew this going in, and replaced the HD as it was getting long in the tooth and I didn't want it to die in the middle of a trip. It also decreases power usage, which should increase battery life at least a little and made my little beastie run cooler.

Sonnet makes a bracket to mount your mini on tha back of your display,which allows you to have zero clutter.
If you like the mini on your desktop, OWC makes the mini stack max which gives you a HD (up to 6 TB) and an optical drive, as well as a bunch of ports, all in a mini sized case so it stacks. Don't need/want the optical, they have a regular miniStack. They make great external drive + port expansion for any computer with USB 3.

Re Affinity as a sensible, low-frills alternative to Photoshop and Lightroom. Comments from various Facebook sites raise some flags for me. I'll look forward to your assessment in a week or three.

I have a 27" iMac desktop and 12" MacBook that I travel with and use at two homes. The iMac Is the writing/graphics computer and the MacBook is communications. My "sync" solution is a "Temp" file on the desktop of each that has current projects and a portable 1TB drive for the extra (3rd) backup on the iMac. That backup is "SuperDuper" the not Time Machine so I can access it with the MacBook. That gives me current projects plus the full archives wherever I am.

I honestly would advise against replacing the thermal grease unless the computer is several years old, and even then you are probably wasting your time. If you do, clean every trace of the old grease off and only apply a very small amount of the new grease. Too much grease will lead to thermal problems that you maybe didn't have before. As a retired engineer I can say that replacement was something that I have never seen done in the corporate world.

An SSD will speed up the boot time, reading and writing files and the opening of apps no end but will not make any difference to how fast Photoshop or any other app works.

I synchronize documents and images between two computers using Google Drive, however there are solutions from Apple (iCloud Drive) and Microsoft (One Drive) and if you want to go with something completely 3rd party Dropbox, Box and others do a great job. The key is to move everything you want to synchronize in the right folder and install the application on all devices to be synchronized.
Benefit for using iCloud is that you can also backup your iPad and iPhone to it at no extra cost for storage.

Re: syncing laptops and desktops - cloud services like Google Drive, Dropbox and Microsoft OneDrive make this easy. They can get expensive if you have a lot of data, though.

For photos you can use Lightroom CC and the Adobe Cloud to sync. I use Lightroom to sync photos I take on my iPhone with my iPad and Mac Mini (a 2012 model needs an SSD). Any changes made on one device are automatically copied to the others once they are connected to the internet.

I installed a 500GB SSD in my 2012 Mini a couple of months ago, but rather than swapping out the original HDD, I left it where it was and added the SSD in the second drive bay. Impressively, they managed to design two drive bays into that diminutive Mini enclosure. The "Fusion Drive" option is actually a HDD in one bay working with an SSD in the other. I chose not to configure the drives as one Fusion Drive, so I have the SSD boot drive plus an internal 1TB HDD dumpster drive for ... stuff! Feels like a new machine.

Good investment Mike!

I have to say, I'm not sure I understand all the lamentations in regards to Mac. I have a late 2014 Mac Mini with 8GB Ram, 256GB SSD, and 2.6Ghz i5 Processor. $900 bucks. I have no complaints. The SSD does indeed make a significant difference. Previously, I had a 2010 MacBook Air 11 with 2GB of RAM and 126GB SSD and was amazed how well it performed and I got 5 nice years out of it...in fact, I kind of miss it as it was a one of a kind device. I really think computer performance has leveled out pretty much, in the same sense as camera sensors. Can we really tell the difference if we put two machines side by side? Perhaps if you're doing video editing or something heavy duty that requires some heavy duty processing power. But for photoshop, Lightroom, DxO and the like? I'm not so sure. Just my two cents. Seems to me all computers are quite robust these days.

p.s. As to multiple devices, I'm am an Apple guy who uses Google stuff. Google Drive works awesome for having files available on all devices. Most browsers these days sync nicely, although I'm partial to Chrome. I guess I'm a strange bird...I like Apple hardware, but prefer Google software and apps.

SSDs are nice, without doubt, but backups are more important. I just spoke with a photographer who had done manual backups on one (sic!) external harddisk for years, and in one moment of nonattention lost 5 years of images. So, better be overly cautious and keep at least two independant backups, if possible in separate places.

Remember: Everything with rotating parts will die some day, and everything else too ;)

SSD's are not indestructible. I think the MTBF has gotten better (at least for certain brands), but a Google search will easily turn up many horror stories of folks have lost everything essentially with no warning when their SSD suddenly became inaccessible.

I've experienced this with a certain popular brand of microSD card in my cellphones, and twice lost a significant amount of data when the microSD card controller suddenly went toes up. At the suggestion of the cellphone manufacturer, I switched microSD card brands, and haven't had an issue since (knock on wood). There was a lot of finger-pointing between the cellphone manufacturer and the original brand of microSD card I was using, with each accusing the other of using incompatible interfaces, leading to failure. As far as I know, that was never resolved, so buyer beware.

Please do your research before trusting your data to whatever bargain SSD you find out there (saying nothing against the Samsung EVO's -- I know nothing about their reliability, as I've not investigated them, yet).

I've toyed with the idea of super-charging my ASUS Windows 10 laptop, which is now about two-three years old. Recently, I upgraded the RAM from 8 GB to 16 GB (maxed it out), and that helped significantly with doing large image collages in Photoshop. Anything to prevent PS from thrashing the hard drive will do wonders for your processing speed within PS. Even then, when you are reading/writing multi-gigabyte layered files, a little boost in the hard drive area is appreciated.

Also, I agree that replacing the grease under the CPU is a pretty risky and questionable practice. There are no moving parts there, and no expectation that the supplied grease breaks down over time. For one thing, the interface twixt CPU and heatsink is essentially gas-tight, so it is not exposed to the air, and thus, not susceptible to any chemical breakdown from exposure to the air.

Another vote for your impressions after using Affinity for awhile. Especially how it handles output. I can use another app instead of PhotoShop for processing images, but I don't think there's another choice for preparing files for printing?

Well, I am in a stuck place, I think. I have both a MacBook Pro 15" and an iMac 27" from 2009. I know that the SSD upgrade would provide a nice boost to the very frequent task of opening and saving files (which can be very slow sometimes with large PSDs and complex .ai files). I can add some more ram, too. Both machines have 8gb. But that still doesn't address the system bus speed or the GPU system. Both come into play with the sort of work a creative pro does - particularly that GPU (try using Premiere, or even iMovie, on one of these machines).
That little Mac mini has significantly better specs than my 27" iMac. Perhaps I should buy one of those and use my iMac as a monitor!

I recognize that this is an old comment thread, but I would offer a counterpoint regarding CPU/GPU thermal paste. First, thermal paste is in no way similar to "grease" (i.e., for lubrication) and instead serves to facilitate efficient heat transfer from the heat-generating bits of your computer to outside world. Second, my experience is that thermal paste is often poorly applied in new computers and/or does degrade over time. I have worked on numerous desktop and laptop computers, from many manufacturers, and in every case cleaning up the old thermal paste (which, again, is often poorly applied) and correctly using a small amount of new, high-quality thermal paste, has reduced CPU/GPU temperatures significantly (e.g., >10C). I open up my personal computer once a year to clean out dust, clean the blades of the fan and the fins of the heat sink, and to reapply thermal paste, and each year I can see both idle and max-load temperatures drop. If you're comfortable opening your computer to swap RAM or HDD/SSD, it's not much more difficult than that. If you need assistance, Youtube is your best friend.

You are going to have to bite the bullet eventually:
Trey Ratcliff switches to Windows!
High profile response to Apple's lack of interest in professional computers:

Trey Ratcliff

"I converted to Apple over 5 years ago when it was clear to me Apple made the best products for creative professionals. I loved Apple and became a hardcore fanboy. I was all-in. Now, I’m switching back to PCs. The new line of MacBook Pros are not-that-awesome. Apple has always been a company that makes beautiful, well-designed products (and still does), but they’ve started to put an emphasis on sleek design form over professional function."

You can see his reasons here:



2010 and 2012 Steve Job designed Mac Pro is cheap enough to get one ... should be ok unless you do development (and risk no further OS upgrade in 3-4 years from now).

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