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The new 28" iMac and Hard Drive Space--need recommendations

Jon Kobeck , Jul 22, 2012; 10:33 a.m.

I am curious about the new iMacs with the 2T hard drive. This is a very attractive option for me because right now my 5 year old iMac only has 1/4 of that capacity and sub sequentially I have to use external drives for my photo catalog. Then another external drive for my time machine back up. Not to mention that ran outof ports and have to use a hub, so it's a mess. My catalog is not that big, with about 1000 images it's about 500 MG in size or 1/2 a Terabyte. So my question, are there speed issues with an internal drive this large? Perhaps I should go with the 1T drive, although then I run the risk of maxing it out as I would be getting close. Or I can continue with the external drives, but that is a pita and messy in my opinion.

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Dave Perkes , Jul 22, 2012; 12:43 p.m.

If you are using up 500Gb for 1000 images, you are creating huge files. I have found a 2TB HDD more than adequate for 50x as many. I still need external drives; so I don't think there is any way round that. HDDs can fail, so I'd never rely only one. There is security in backing up to separate hard drives; preferably kept in a different location to your main computer.
I don't believe there is any speed disadvantage of a 2TB drive as opposed to a 1TB I have a 2TB 7200 31/2" FW disc and cannot say Ive noticed any difference to the older 1TB one I have.
If you use FW800 then you don't necessarily need a hub. I Use Western Digital drives which can be daisy chained together+ a few USB ones which are very slow in comparison.
I'd go for the 2TB with no hesitation.

Jon Kobeck , Jul 22, 2012; 12:57 p.m.

Well, many of the files I have are from my digital days so lots of raw files, then about 300 scans from film. Im currently using Icy Doc drives with Western Digital 1T in each (see pic) on a USB


Icy Dock

Larry West , Jul 22, 2012; 04:17 p.m.

1,000 images in 500 GB? Something is wrong, I believe. My current Aperture Library is nearing 10,000 images, and is only about 250 GB. And that's almost all 18MP RAW files from my Canon 7D. On top of that, I also have the original RAW files on a separate drive, and the Library is backed up in an Aperture "Vault" (basically a backup of the library), on a third drive.

Were I speccing a 27" iMac for myself, I would choose the 256GB SSD plus the 1TB HDD for $600. Not cheap, but it comes with all your apps (and the OS) loaded onto the SSD, and leaves your HDD for other storage (you music, photos, etc.).

But if you're doing a lot of photography, and shooting RAW, and maintaining a large archive, get used to external drives. They're actually the better solution than putting it all inside the iMac. If you fill the drive inside the iMac, it takes a lot more to swap it out for a new one than to swap a new external drive into the chain. If you really can't stand external drives that much, look at the Mac Pro, with 4 hot-swappable drive locations built in.

Since you mentioned hubs, I assume you're using USB drives. I prefer to spend a little more on the external drives, and hook them all up via FireWire 800. It's faster than USB2, and since only storage devices are on the FireWire bus, there's no possibility of contention from any slower devices. Also, devices can be daisy-chained, eliminating the need for hubs.

My setup is like this:

  • MacBook Pro with 320GB SATA drive
  • USB 2 Bus: one Seagate 500GB
  • FireWire 800 bus: two 2TB drives, one 500GB drive (portable), and a FW 800 CF card reader

You really can't have too much storage if you're really into digital photography. But stuffing it all into an iMac that is not the easiest thing to expand, is not the way I would go.

Jon Kobeck , Jul 22, 2012; 11:28 p.m.

Ok I need to verify the space issue on my external drive. I'm pretty sure it was about 500.

The 256SSD IS VERY APPEALING. I assume the OS would boot up and run much smoother and faster on an SSD?

I also see they have a Time Capsule option for a back up. Ahhhhhh money money money

Dave Perkes , Jul 22, 2012; 11:35 p.m.

I believe the Time Capsule is wireless so I'd not consider it. Time Machine on a FW drive would be more efficient and faster (and cheaper).

Larry West , Jul 23, 2012; 10:22 a.m.

I believe the Time Capsule is wireless so I'd not consider it.

While an Apple Time Capsule is also a wireless router, you do not have to connect to it only via WiFi. You can connect via Gigabit Ethernet...

But yes, an external drive for the Time Machine backup is a LOT cheaper, and faster. A good 2TB FW 800 drive is $220, and a 4TB is a shade under $400.

With a new iMac, you also have the availability of Thunderbolt interfaces. These promise even faster access.

BTW - if you can wait 90 days or so, Apple is due (some might say past due) to update the iMac line. Indications point to September/October timeframe. But if you need it now, there's no reason to wait it out, really. Current machines are very good, and probably a lot faster than what you have now (if that's your iMac in the corner of the photo above, then a new iMac is at least 2x faster, and up to nearly 4 times faster (with the 3.4 GHz i7...)).

Dave Perkes , Jul 23, 2012; 11:59 a.m.

Thanks Larry for the clarification on the Time Capsule that it has Ethernet.
I'm not so sure about thunderbolt yet. Drives are expensive and I'd wait to see how they are taken up by other manufacturers.
My guess is the new imacs will have SSDs like the new MacBook Pro. I just hope that Apple don't make life any harder for those wishing to upgrade their imacs. A 27"retina screen will be amazing; I'll be thinking of getting one in the New year $$s permitting of course. Otherwise the current one would be very good.
There is nothing wrong with the current imacs. I have a 2011 21" i3 as an office machine and have been surprised how capable it is;especially after re-using the RAM from my i7 MacBook Pro. Now both have 8gb and they are fast enough for intensive image editing.

J. W. Wall , Jul 23, 2012; 12:05 p.m.

Time capsule includes an Airport wireless router. Even if you connect and use it via ethernet cable only, the wifi continues to operate. My setup is in a small space (motorhome), and, if I leave the time capsule connected, the wifi will interfere with my iMac's use of a separate wifi connection to the internet. Applecare indicated the time capsule's wifi cannot be turned off, just set to not be used. Had I known, I would just have bought an external Firewire hard drive instead of a time capsule. As it is, I have to keep the time capsule disconnected except when using it to back up, and can't use my other wifi during that time.

Barry Fisher , Jul 25, 2012; 02:25 a.m.

Its just what you choose to pay for the 1tb or 2tb. I have a couple of year old iMac with a 1tb and have several external drives. I still have 500 GB. I only keep the latest few projects and when done, back them off unless I think I will need them in the near future. Most of it is on external drives. Its part of using an iMac. I may end up putting in an SSD for OS and programs, but I always expect to use external hard drives to store my photos. I find that an advantage actually, easy to move around etc. My iMac is the last one before the Tbolt version, mid-2010, and I very much still believe the iMac is an excellent choice with no thoughts of upgrading yet. All the quad core versions are quite fast and the screens calibrate and work well for photography.


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