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Hard Drive Upgrade - Printable Version

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Hard Drive Upgrade - Nayrb - 05-08-2019

I've done some research on SSDs and come up with some ideas based on my own specific setup, but I could use some input before I start spending money and rearranging plugs. Keep in mind I use Kontakt, which makes heavy use of disk streaming rather than loading everything into RAM.

The time is coming for my upgrade to Windows 10. My PC is from 2013 and it does this music stuff rather swimmingly, so I'm loath to go making big changes. But since I'll have to reinstall things and migrate data when I change the operating system anyway, I figured a hard drive upgrade might be in order as well. Below are a couple of hypothetical plans I'm bouncing around.


Scenario 1: Replace HDD with SSD

I could replace the main HDD with a quality SATA 1TB SSD. My current system uses a 2TB 7200RPM Barracuda for a main drive and a Sandisk 32GB SSD for caching. Currently I'm not looking at using separate drives for samples and OS respectively. I know that's not "best practice," but I've never actually had a problem in the past. I suppose the current HDD could become extra storage. The Sandisk caching SSD would just go in a drawer somewhere. The idea here is, of course, to take advantage of what the SSD can do in all applications and move away from HDDs entirely. It's a pretty straightforward setup, too.


Scenario 2: Install the OS on the SSD and the samples on the HDD

I could just use said SSD solely for the OS and the applications. The HDD and its caching drive would still be for samples and storage (essentially doing what it already does, sans the OS). On that note, is it even possible to use the caching drive in this configuration? I don't think it is, based on what I've read. Cons also include probably not making a difference in task performance speed when working on music (disk streaming and whatnot). Would it really be worth it over just installing Windows 10 and not bothering with a new hard drive at all?


RE: Hard Drive Upgrade - Samulis - 05-08-2019

For my desktop, I found I had an available 'mSATA' slot (sort of like the precursor of M.2), which can accept mSATA SSD's. They're about comparable to a SATA SSD, but very compact and perhaps even easier to install. I ended up setting up my system on a 1 TB mSATA SSD (Samsung, i think?), then used my old 2 TB HDD as a storage drive for samples. The difference when running applications was absolutely immense.

For my laptop, only just a year ago, I outright replaced the 5400 RPM 512 GB HDD with a typical 2 TB SSD from Crucial. I don't do much virtual orchestration on my laptop, but I do use it for lots of sample recording and loading/saving files on there is incredibly fast, even with the operating system on the same drive.

My general recommendation would be to make sure you buy a SSD with about 2x the space you probably actually need. Once more than 50% full, drive speed tends to decline quite quickly and it can even affect longevity somewhat if you push it past 90% too regularly, as that reduces the drives' ability to 'wear-level'. I do strongly recommend upgrading from a HDD to a SSD for your system at least, as the advantage for app loading times is quite impressive. On my old HDD, a web browser might take 15-30 seconds to open... on here it's instantaneous, even with just a several-years-old slightly-over-filled mSATA SSD.

Since a SSD does not need to jump a physical arm back and forth to read data from different parts of the drive, random read/write performance is much better. This means multitasking, such as sample streaming from an OS disk, is several orders of magnitude better (both in latency and sheer throughput) than it would be on optical media. Long story short, it should be fine to keep samples on your OS SSD... as long as you don't fill it up too much. That being said, picking a SSD with some decent cache space on it will also help in multi-tasking situations, and there is a whole rabbit-hole you can go down regarding which types of SSD technology are best for your specific use case (e.g. Intel has some drives that specialize in latency specifically, while some other technologies offer different advantages).

I would recommend sticking to common brand names: Samsung, Sandisk, WD, Crucial, for example.


RE: Hard Drive Upgrade - Mattias Westlund - 05-08-2019

I'm not an SSD expert and I'm also generally out of the loop when it comes to PC's these days. I just wanted to mention that you should make sure your 2013 machine actually has a disk controller that allows you to take advantage of the speed increase that SSD's offer. It probably does, but check before you go out and start buying stuff. My ageing machine is stuck with SATA II which, if you put an SSD and a modern HDD up against each other, will only give you modest performance gains. Your machine likely has SATA III and/or mSATA/M.2 though, but just saying. Better safe than sorry.

As for how to set it all up -- is disk streaming an issue with a spinning hard drive right now? If not, use an SSD for your OS drive. Keep the HDD for loading samples and replace it with an SSD later.


RE: Hard Drive Upgrade - Nayrb - 05-09-2019

Good info, guys (yes, I have been following all the many other posts about SSDs and such on the forum, too). I don't think my motherboard has mSATA ports, but it has something like six SATA III connections, so a standard SATA SSD should fit the bill. I can just put it where the caching drive is now, in fact, if that isn't going to be of any more use to me once I make the upgrade. So installing should be easy.

I'm used to big templates taking awhile to load. And disk streaming has not been an issue at all; but I'm not sure if that owes anything to that caching drive. Previous builds didn't have one but they never approached the levels of memory usage and streaming needs I've gotten up to over the years. I suspect, though, that having the OS on an SSD more or less replaces the caching drive in that respect; but I could be wrong (that tech was sort of going on in the background without me really understanding for a long time). Basically, I've never had to worry about it since I started the computer up in 2013.

For the record, I'm considering buying a Samsung 860 Pro. It's kind of nutty how expensive a 1TB is ($300), but I guess it makes sense to put the money into something I'm expecting to use for a long time. Since it'll just be the cost of the drive and of Windows 10 Pro, I can space out the purchases and not feel it too much. I'm still considering it, though, because I'm leaning toward the SSD / HDD combo, and I might not need to go that expensive for the OS drive (Product recommendations are welcome).

Sorry for being a bit of a "n00b" with this (but I am). When you use the two drive setup do you just put the samples and bounced tracks and whatnot on the HDD and all the applications and project files on the SSD with the OS? In other words, does anything ever get stored on the OS drive intentionally or does it more or less just run applications?


RE: Hard Drive Upgrade - Samulis - 05-09-2019

(05-09-2019, 12:15 AM)Nayrb Wrote: For the record, I'm considering buying a Samsung 860 Pro. It's kind of nutty how expensive a 1TB is ($300), but I guess it makes sense to put the money into something I'm expecting to use for a long time. Since it'll just be the cost of the drive and of Windows 10 Pro, I can space out the purchases and not feel it too much. I'm still considering it, though, because I'm leaning toward the SSD / HDD combo, and I might not need to go that expensive for the OS drive (Product recommendations are welcome).

Sorry for being a bit of a "n00b" with this (but I am). When you use the two drive setup do you just put the samples and bounced tracks and whatnot on the HDD and all the applications and project files on the SSD with the OS? In other words, does anything ever get stored on the OS drive intentionally or does it more or less just run applications?

The 'EVO' line is just as capable as the 'PRO'; the 'PRO' just has a little extra longevity (like 10 years -> 20 years of very regular use). For the record, as long as you don't over-crowd the drive or use it as a server disk, it will last a decade or more or regular use- that's what they're designed to do.

A good post from the B&H Q&A section (emphasis mine):
Quote:Yes, the Pro is slightly faster then the Evo but actually this is not the main reason of the Pro line. The difference is long term reliability due to higher tier components and architecture which is the main reason behind the Pro line in the first place. Up until the 860 line the Pro series had 10 year warranties, since the 860 this has been reduced to 5 just like the Evo however the Pro warranty permits double the TBW (total bytes written). TBW is the main unit of measure for longevity of a flash memory product such as SSD's. As an example the Evo 860 1TB has a 5-year 600TB TBW (600 terabytes, total bytes written) vs the Pro 860 1TB which has 5-years 1,200TB TBW ie double the TBW over the Evo version. I hope that helps to clear things up.

To write 600 TB, you would need to completely empty and refill the drive 600 times. The key operator here is writes, not reads, so running apps, loading samples, etc. will count very little to the drive's detriment. Likewise, keeping the drive at less than 50% capacity will give it greater maneuvering space with conditioning, so that will give more bang for your buck. The people who need the PRO version are, for example, videographers who use SSD's as their recording medium, thus quickly and regularly filling it up with hundreds of gigs of data on a regular basis, and server drives, where a high amount of reads and writes happen constantly. A system drive does make a lot of reads and writes, but it is not nearly as intense as either of these (unless there is something wrong).

Since you can get an EVO 860 for half the price of a PRO 860, I'd recommend going with an EVO. The 1 TB capacity should be sufficient for a system disk, although if sample load times are of interest to you, getting the 2 TB model and keeping your regularly accessed libraries on the SSD itself might be a good idea. Since you have so many SATA III connectors, you could even get two 1 TB SSD's, use one for OS, one for main samples, and your HDD for backup and aux samples.

(side note- SATA II and SATA III connectors are mechanically identical- check the silkscreen on the motherboard or look in the motherboard/OEM's manual to ensure which connectors are SATA III. In mine, I only have two SATA III connectors, the other four are SATA II)

Besides, if you haven't already, you need to get an external backup drive of some kind before doing anything remotely as risky as transferring your OS. I messed it up when I did mine, and was insanely relieved I had backed things up right before the transfer.

Store anything on the SSD that needs to be accessed quickly and with low latency. This typically means apps, games, system files, and critical work files. Aside from what your OS puts there automatically, it's up to you to decide how you store your files.


RE: Hard Drive Upgrade - bigcat1969 - 05-09-2019

Just a note Firefox or most any browser constantly writes to your system HD to recover sessions. You might consider upping the interval if you use an SSD for your C drive and SSD life is more important than webbrowser crash protection.

https://www.mahal.org/change-firefox-session-store-interval-to-save-your-ssd


RE: Hard Drive Upgrade - Samulis - 05-10-2019

Cool point, BC, didn't know it was that bad!

Just did a bit of back-of-the-envelope math... your system would have to constantly write more than 11 MB of data every second for 8 hours each day, or about 5.5 GB for an 8-hour day, to use up the 600 TBW limit in 5 years (a total of 52,560,000 seconds of up-time). I take their figure of '10-20 GB per day' to mean 24-hours, which would equate to about 2.5-5 GB per 8-hour day. So yeah, if that info is correct, reducing that interval (if it hasn't already been patched by Google/Firefox) sounds like a very good precaution.


RE: Hard Drive Upgrade - Nayrb - 05-10-2019

Thanks BC and Sam, I went ahead and made that Firefox change on this laptop I'm currently using (fortunately I have an SSD equipped machine to mess around with already, so this all won't be entirely new to me when I put one in the desktop).

As for the EVO vs Pro, I appreciate the clarification. I had already been gravitating toward the EVO, because it just seemed like a better option, financially speaking, but it certainly helps to have it laid out in front of me. I suspected both EVO and Pro were probably great options in the practical sense.

I'll triple check my SATA config on the motherboard, too. I'm almost positive they are all SATA III, but I'll pop the hood again and have a look.

When backing up do you clone or mirror your system? I've always been rather old school about it, just backing up files and opting for a fresh OS install / reinstall of programs. This, unfortunately, leaves me without a "roll back" option. If there's a way to have my cake and eat it, too, I wouldn't mind trying it.

And hey, another thing: How does one install Windows 10 these days? Do they even sell physical media anymore or do you just download the ISO, put it on a disc, and pay for it when you activate the version you want?


RE: Hard Drive Upgrade - Nayrb - 06-10-2019

Alright, the upgrade is done. I ended up with two 1TB EVOs, one for OS and apps, the other for samples. I left the old HDD in as well which has helped with migrating data. Still working on getting everything ironed out, but it's going well and everything is much faster now. It went quite smoothly; the only thing I seem to have messed up on was somehow blanking during the OS install and leaving the SATA config in RAID instead of changing it to AHCI. I learned what a boot loop is  trying to change that after the fact,  so I guess it's just going to stay that way  Big Grin There are some workarounds for that but frankly it's already faster by far than the previous setup and I'm not sure I want to delve into more arcane territory just yet. Hopefully now I can get back to working on tunes!

Update: Fixed that SATA controller thing pretty easily by finding a guide that let me switch to AHCI in Safemode with a couple of steps. Really enjoying the speeds of the SSDs. An 8.5GB project takes about a minute or so to load, and I moved 55GB of drum samples from the HDD to the storage SSD in 7 minutes. Coincidentally, at work someone needed to recover 8GB of data and it took several hours Big Grin