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Wednesday, 08 December 2010


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Have you considered going with a dual-drive setup in your Macbook Pro? Put in a 750GB or 1TB for data and install whatever sized SSD you consider large enough for OS/Apps while still being affordable (i.e. a 60 or 80GB)?

Also: the Seagate Momentus XT 500GB should be less than $140. More like $125ish, though my store is currently selling them for $110.

$26 for a 7-port USB hub is pretty steep too, but a powered USB hub, like you say, can be an unforseen godsend in ways beyond multiplying your USB ports. For laptop users who go from desk to desk, for example, it allows you to get all your peripherals plugged in and out with a single USB plug.

Let me give you one advise Ctein, think about using a storage router. They are deadcheap and that way you can run all youre backup drives away from the main desk in a storage closet in the attic or if you need to in a shed in the garden. Nothing frustrates more then a lost file and I have become fashionably lazy so easing up the backup effort to me is paramount. I unload the raw data of the SD card unedited on the internal HD and on the backupdisk on the storage router. Then I edit my files and send the edited files to the storage router as well. That means I can use any system I like (battered HP desktop or ancient HP Desktop Replacement PC) and have the edited files accesseble at any location. Sometimes I even double the backup of the edited files (since these contain more effort).

No indicator light? My local Poundland has a string of seasonal USB powered star lights for the price of... you guessed it.

Tony Collins

Computers can be like cameras; a big hole to throw your money in. Heck I like throwing my money in holes and OWC is one of the best. Good stuff, reasonable prices, top notch customer service. I've been using them for years, never disappointed.

I got one of the cheap multicolored usb ports. It wasn't long before the plug on the power cord broke. I just got one of the newer tech ports - and I'll see how it goes.


Anyone thinking of buying the Seagate overpriced, underpowered kludge should take a look at a recent review by a very reliable publication - PCPro:

Dear Chester,

I've thought about the small SDD / large HD option, but it'd mean losing the CD/DVD drive, and I'm not quite ready to do that. It doesn't get a lot of use, but it does get used.


Dear Ed,

Been thinking about it-- there's about eight external drives floating about the office, and a central router would reduce the clutter. Plus the sneakernet.

But I'd need at least a 10 Gbit/sec network, or I'd still be using too many local HDs for performance-critical tasks. Don't got one of those, yet. Some day, though.

pax / Ctein

Dear Roy,

I have no idea how the drive will perform in a Windows system. I saw consistent improvements in real-world performance on my MacBook Pro. They got lousy boot times; I got great boot times. Shrug.

Testing a drive by copying a large file to and fro has very little to do with how a drive will perform as a system drive. It's an easy test to run, but it ain't useful... unless that's just what you plan to use the drive for.

pax / Ctein

Okay, can someone help me here? I've been thinking about getting an SSD for my iMac in order to use it as a scratch drive for PhotoShop... both to be able to stitch large files and then work on those files. I'm not really worried about the speed of opening a single file.

But the iMac doesn't have eSATA capability, so if the SSD is external, that means firewire 800 at best. Does that even make sense, then?

Or, as Ctein alludes to, could I take out the CD/DVD drive, move that external, and get a faster read/write speed there?

Any help or references would be appreciated. I think I know just enough to be aware of the fact that I don't really know anything...


Ctein: does your optical drive get use when you’re on the go, or only from your desk? If you only use it at home, or if you don’t mind an extra gadget, you can pretty easily either (a) put the optical drive in an external case or (b) buy a cheap (and probably faster) external optical drive.

I just pulled the trigger on a fast SSD + big HDD in the optical drive bay upgrade; it all should arrive in the next couple days and I’m pretty heavily looking forward to it.

Will the NewerTech hub charge an iPad? (I know of no powered-hub that will.)


Dear Mark,

Putting an SSD in a FireWire enclosure is a waste of money. A good, fast conventional hard drive will max out FireWire 800. Instead of spending $100 for a 40 GB SSD, you might as well spend the same amount of money on a large capacity hard drive, partition off the first 40-50 GB for your scratch disk, and have all the remaining space for whatever else you want.

On the other hand, if you have a 2010 27 inch iMac, OWC can install an external SATA port for a modest sum.

Current-model iMacs are NOT user serviceable. It's easy disassembling a MacBook Pro and swapping out drives. Doing the same on an iMac is a job for trained professionals.


Dear Jacob,

My optical drive doesn't get a lot of use when I'm traveling, but it gets just enough use it it would be extremely annoying not to have it available when I need it. Probably in four or five years I'll decide it's an entirely dispensable device, but not today.

pax \ Ctein
[ Please excuse any word-salad. MacSpeech in training! ]
-- Ctein's Online Gallery http://ctein.com 
-- Digital Restorations http://photo-repair.com 

Dear Marc,

A full-power (500 mA) USB port can recharge an iPad if it's not awake. It'll take about 12 hours. If your iPad's awake the port can't provide enough juice to run it and recharge it, but it'll cut the drain rate on the battery by about a factor of two.

pax / Ctein

Dear Ctein,

There is a sweat difference between performance critical storage (which should be as close to the processor core as physically possible) and storage critical which should be as far removed from the processor core as physically possible (another solar system would be ideal in order to prevent data loss in case of nova). But sneakering around is risky business since it prevents a flow from happening and thus creats dataloss hazards of the unacceptable kind. I have lost countless pictures due to this mallpractice when I (in a hurry) formated a backupdrive and experienced a headcrash the day after. Since the day to day production of a healthy photographer is no match for any other medium then disk these days, and disks are not solid state but have moving parts extra care should be taken. So my setup contains 2 drive in my main machine. A 250 Gb drive which contains Windows XP (always the oldest supported version of Microsoft which guarantees the least problems as NASA and NATO doctrine state so nicely) and a 1 Tb lightning fast drive for storage. If the 250 pops I will lose no data. The 1 Tb drive contains all my photos ordered per camera and per month. Each directory has several subdirectories which are labeled "bewerkt JPG" for pictures that have been edited from JPG and "bewerkt RAW" for pictures that have been edited from RAW (needed for extended EV range and CA corrections). Furthermore a directory labelled "RAWJPEG" in which the data of the camera are stored as they come from a full chip. Every camera is "staffed" with 2 SD cards (not more, not less) one is in the camera, the other is in the bag. That way I have at least 200 pictures ready at any time. When a chip is full it gets unloaded into the RAWJPEG directory of the month and for that camera. This is done twice (local) and on the backup drive. Editing JPG I do using a old HP Linux Laptop (The Gimp in native) and store that local and on the backup. Hope to have cleared your 10 Gb ethernet question.

And as for 10 Gb ethernet, it is a question of waiting for costs to come down. So lets pray to saints Bill and Steve, for More's law to work :-).

Greetings, Ed


Well, thanks for the heads-up. It's an older iMac, so no realistic upgrade path. Better to look for a secondhand tower and then add a more accurate display anyway, I guess.

Thanks for your time and expertise.


Drat it, Ctein, I'm blaming *you*! Barely a week after I read this article, my macbookpro's hard-drive is showing i/o errors indicating end of life, and - here's the suspicious part - I know just the article to go to for a recommendation on a replacement! Your fault!

Or good timing on your part, I guess ;)

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