Best Hard Drive for Video

Discussion in 'Amateur Video Production' started by RickWarda, Sep 10, 2006.

  1. RickWarda

    RickWarda Guest

    I keep getting told this is a good question but no one can advise me to
    a good answer.
    I have a video editing PC workstation with one Raptor C-drive and two
    300GB Western Digital SATA hardrives for source video projects.
    This PC is also connected to my server which simply stores graphics,
    music and serves printers and stuff.
    Here is my question.
    I need to add more video hard drive space (I know, I know I just can't
    delete the projects I have on there right now, and don't want to
    re-capture that video)
    So should I
    1.) Add another SATA drive ( I would have to buy a PCI-SATA card, my
    mobo only has 2 ports)
    2.) Add another EIDE drive ( I think I have one EIDE spot left for
    3.) Add an external USB 2.0 drive
    4.) Add an external Firewire drive
    5.) Add a dedicated video drive to my Server (which is connected via a
    Lyksis wired hub)
    6.) Add an SCSI card and start a daisy chain of drives (too $ ?)
    Basically I'm wondering If I will see performance issues between these
    different scenarios.
    I will be capturing video to this new drive, creating Vegas projects
    that incorporate this video
    and then render the project.
    Will there be different performance issues in the Capture, Editing or
    Rendering tasks?
    I'm assuming this may continue to grow.

    RickWarda, Sep 10, 2006
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  2. RickWarda

    Smarty Guest


    I don't think your problem is unique or especially complex. Adding hard
    drives for video is not unlike adding them for any other purpose, except
    that you may be a bit more careful about transfer speeds if you intend to
    capture high def content. Most standard definition video requires disk
    transfer rates which are well within the performance range of most cheap
    7200 RPM drives, and Raptors are not needed. Bus saturation can become a
    problem if you are trying to do multiple video captures or transfers
    simultaneously, and therefore Firewire (and especially USB 2) are
    problematic if using more than one external drive for video capture.
    However, PATA/EIDE, SATA, and SCSI all do very well with supporting 2 or
    maybe 3 drives running at high I/O rates simultaneously, a situation few
    people need or use. RAID offers some reliability advantages and can also
    boost speed, if you have mission-critical content to deal with.

    If your growth needs become more concrete, it would be easier to offer you a
    specific plan. It is tempting to say "Add another EIDE" drive since it does
    not require, in your case, another controller, and will certainly have more
    than adequate speed if you buy a 7200 RPM drive.

    Adding another SATA or SCSI drive only makes sense if you intend to add
    more drives and need the eventual expansion of another controller card.
    Since you can buy very large (500 MB) drives cheaply, it is hard to imagine
    needing to add several, but you may have very large volume production to
    handle, and have not stated this yet. As you are probably aware, MPEG2 video
    such as found on most DVDs requires about 2 or 3 GB/hour and lightly
    compressed DV video (avi format) or high def HDV requires about 13 GB/hour,
    so you could store tons of video on a single 500 GB drive. Uncompressed high
    def video is another story, which I suspect is not your area of interest
    based on your question.

    I would not recommend using a video server and moving video back and forth
    to your workstation for editing, rendering, etc. The network imparts too
    much of a speed penalty to make this a fast solution, although there are
    situations where a client/server arrangement makes a lot of sense for video.
    My home SageTV system serves a half dozen PC "clients" around the house with
    a PC video server which records and stores MPEG2 video, and this type of
    situation makes sense because there is no editing or interactive transfers
    other than pure streaming of video from server to clients.

    Rendering is, however, a special case worth mentioning. The slowest part of
    video authoring and editing with Vegas and most other programs is the
    rendering step, and Vegas specifically offers a method to spread the
    rendering over more than one machine. This process is worthy of another
    thread if you want to investigate it further, but it does offer a
    significant speed up for some production workflows. This may or may not
    matter in your particular case.....

    Hope this helps and provides some answers to your questions.

    Smarty, Sep 10, 2006
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  3. RickWarda wrote ...
    My favorite:
    7) Get a USB2 to IDE "cable" and just plug in raw drives
    into the computer as needed. I now just keep a bunch of
    raw drives on the shelf and plug them in as needed. No
    need to power down (as I had to do with the plug-in
    drive shell/drawer, etc.) It is fast, and cheap, can't hardly
    beat that. Can't remember whether the last ones I bought
    were $8 or $12 each.
    Richard Crowley, Sep 10, 2006
  4. RickWarda

    Scubajam Guest

    I use 5 drives, all work great (1.2 TB). 2 are EIDE, 2 SATA, and one
    on a PCI card for SATA, so there's room for even more.

    With what you have, go ahead and add another EIDE drive. They're often
    cheaper than SATA, and work fine. Adding a PCI card controller will
    work fine also.

    If you want an external box, use Firewire. I don't recommend USB2.
    While it's speed is published as 480, faster than a 400 Firewire,
    that's burst speed. Sustained is closer to 200. I tried it once with
    an external drive with bad results, but that may have been my setup. I
    don't know about the USB to EIDE trick.

    For sure, operating system on C drive, capture to a different drive,
    preferably on different controller. Then edit, and when finished,
    render to a 3rd drive. Don't render to the same drive as your raw
    capture material, you might lose 25% time or more. After the render
    you can always transfer the final file back to any other drive as

    I've also used external Firewire boxes with good results. Hot swap is
    OK, daisychain is OK. Even works well with my 3 yr old laptop.

    Jim McGauhey
    Washington State
    Scubajam, Sep 10, 2006
  5. "Scubajam" wrote ...
    OTOH, I have had perfect performance from over a
    half dozen of those very cheap USB2 to IDE cables
    used with several different desktop and laptop PCs.
    They are currently selling for $ 8.50 (including power supply)
    I think they are great. I just ordered a couple of them for
    my SATA drives, also.
    Richard Crowley, Sep 10, 2006
  6. RickWarda

    David McCall Guest

    I paid about $5 more when I bought mine, but it was still worth every penny.

    Notice that there is a new version advertized on the same page.
    For a dollor more, you get a version that works with 2.5" drives as well.

    David McCall, Sep 10, 2006
  7. Right. But those "laptop drives" sell for premium prices
    (GB/$) that make them unattractive for storing video.
    At least in my world. YMMV
    Richard Crowley, Sep 10, 2006
  8. RickWarda

    David McCall Guest

    Actualy I wasn't thinking about storing video on them specifically.
    Laptop drives are not only expensive, but usually a little slow too.
    The only point was that for a dollar extra, you can handle both
    normal 3.5" "internal" drives, and also the little laptop drives.

    For instance, when I rebuild a system that I have been using for
    a long time, I usually put in a new boot drive and keep the old
    drive so that I can still fetch anything that was on that drive.

    While that isn't too hard to do with a desktop machine, there isn't
    any provision for a second drive on a laptop. Since I keep my
    old drives, it is really handy to be able to connect an old drive to
    any machine without having to install it in the machine (which
    requires a reboot). In fact you don't even have to install it in
    anything or reboot to try a different drive. Very handy indeed.

    David McCall, Sep 11, 2006
  9. Brilliant. I haven't had to recover a laptop (yet), but
    that is a great solution.
    Richard Crowley, Sep 11, 2006
  10. RickWarda

    heytud Guest

    I've been thinking about adding a second HDD to speed things up and
    give me a bit of elbow room, so this thread is timely...
    Interesting that (at least for 100-200GB drives on, the
    SATA drives at 3.0Gb/s can be less expensive than the ones at 1.5Gb/s.
    Why? Because the 1.5Gb/s are all 10,000 RPM, while the less-expensive
    3.0Gb/s drives are 7,200 RPM.

    I couldn't find a PCI card to add 3.0Gb/s SATA ports. (I think it may
    have to do with the limitations of the PCI bus itself.)

    I may just get a SATA drive and a PCI-SATA card ($21), and plan on
    moving the drive into a new CPU someday. (I'll also need a power
    supply connector, since my PS doesn't have a SATA power connector).
    Not having shopped for HDDs lately, this was a surprise: You can get
    many 7,200 RPM SATA drives *cheaper* than the corresponding 7,200 RPM
    ATA100 drives. Examples: vs.
    It seems like having the drives on different controllers is almost a
    necessity in order to see a performance gain from separating them if
    this Wikipedia article is correct: (See
    "Serialized, overlapped, and queued operations").
    Why not render onto the boot drive? It doesn't seem like writing the
    rendered file could be a bottleneck in the process (especially with
    write-behind caching), as long as it's not sharing bus bandwidth with
    the capture material.
    heytud, Sep 12, 2006
  11. Higher technology gets cheaper as we go along.
    SATA is a more recent technology and is getting
    all the development while IDE is now a "legacy"
    technology. SATA is also cheaper because it uses
    few wires.
    As the density increases, you can get faster transfer
    rate without resorting to jet turbine 10,000 RPM
    Because the operating system uses the boot drive for lots
    of overhead things (related to your video processing AND
    other things) that will decrease your throughput. Best
    avoided altogether as cheap as hard drives are these days.
    It is sharing bus bandwidth with the OS overhead.
    Richard Crowley, Sep 13, 2006
  12. RickWarda

    DayBreak Guest

    Very interesting and well said Richard. Thank you ...
    DayBreak, Sep 13, 2006
  13. RickWarda

    heytud Guest

    Until they're free and install themselves, I'm still going to put at
    least a little consideration into the need for it. :)

    Bear in mind also that in my case (and probably other amateurs on the
    NG) the CPU is not the latest and fastest; it simply can't do the
    rendering work fast enough to saturate a disk bus with output.

    If I were doing HD or trying to make money doing video, I'd certainly
    not think twice about adding more power. (Although I'd still think
    about *where* to add it.)
    OK, is there something wrong with this (very approximate) math?

    Say we're rendering to MPEG-2 at 15Mbits/sec (the peak rate for
    standard DVD, right?) in realtime (I know my CPU can't come close to
    it, but I'm sure somebody's can).

    A mediocre physical hard drive can transfer at a sustained rate of
    40MBytes/sec (or ~320 Mbits/sec). The ATA/100 bus can transfer at
    100MBytes/sec (or ~800 Mbits/sec). This means that the act of writing
    the MPEG file takes only about 5% of the drive speed and only about 2%
    of the ATA bus capacity. I can't believe that the OS is going to use
    so much of the bus bandwidth that 2% is going to matter. Even
    considering inefficiencies, overhead, etc., could it be 10%?

    If we're rendering to DV at 36Mbits/sec in realtime, that's still only
    11% of the drive capacity and about 5% of the ATA/100 bus capacity.
    heytud, Sep 13, 2006
  14. RickWarda

    AnthonyR Guest

    Those are the limitation numbers, actual IDE hard drives transfer nowhere
    near that, 7 mb/s if you are lucky and can handle 2 streams of dv barely. A
    raid might get close to double that, say 11-13mb/s. At least in my benchmark

    PS I just ordered one of those USB to IDE gadgets to transfer files from old
    drives without having to open the pc and fiddle with wiring, at that price
    it's a bargain. Thanks Richard.

    AnthonyR, Sep 14, 2006
  15. Theoretical numbers. In the real world things don't necessarily
    run as well as the published lab specs. Furthermore, the OS
    can do things in bursts on its own timetable unrelated to your
    wishes. Not worth slogging through all that when hard drives
    cost well less than $1 per gigabyte.
    Richard Crowley, Sep 14, 2006
  16. RickWarda

    AnthonyR Guest

    Exactly, and I had forgotten to mention in my earlier post that drive
    manufactures always post maximum burst rates, that doesn't help someone
    doing video editing. To them the sustained data transfer rate is more
    important in that case, and it's more like 7mb/s than the 100mb/s limit of
    the bus.

    Thanks again for the tip, wow..they shipped that usb to ide out
    same day and I seen it elsewhere afterwards for $29, cool.

    AnthonyR, Sep 14, 2006
  17. RickWarda

    Anoni Moose Guest

    I'm in the process of upgrading my system for improved video too.
    They will get installed this weekend (including an e6600 upgrade).

    For you, the smallest change for the biggest return, IMO, would be to
    two Seagate 320GB vertical-recording 7200.10 drives for under $100
    each from Newegg (w/free shipping). Then put them together RAID-0.
    These seem to be very fast drives (the new recording method is very
    dense on the disk so transfer is FAST even at 7200 rpm). Raid-0 makes
    it go twice as fast as that. Blazing 640-GB for under $200 (or maybe
    $250 if
    you need a PCI controller for the extra ports -- although those two
    should be able to saturate the PCI bus :).

    If those current 300Gb drives can be handled as well on the same
    controller (and you've backups to use for transfer to-and-fro), you
    can RAID-0 the pair of them too. Video does seem to so like very
    fast disks (not that anything likes slow ones).

    That'll give you over 40 hours of FAST added DV video space
    for little money. . :)

    SATA vs SATA2 isn't to be worried about. it's a secondary speed
    thing where speed off of the disk proper and things like RAID-0
    make the huge differences, especially with video where the data
    is huge and will use full tracks rather than being something
    seek-limited zipping around slowly (where raid-0 won't help either).
    Anoni Moose, Sep 15, 2006
  18. IME, better to use the two drives as separate entities rather
    than lashing them together in any kind of RAID configuration.
    You gain more from having separate source and destination
    spindles (as when rendering or transcoding) than you gain
    from any (dubious IMHO) speed "gain". How many more
    times faster than DV do you need?
    Richard Crowley, Sep 16, 2006
  19. RickWarda

    Theodore Guest

    Kind of relating to the "Pro or not?" thread...

    Even with the real numbers, the CPU in my case is so much of a
    bottleneck that the boot drive doesn't even feel the difference in
    writing the rendered data. Windows Task Manager tells me that the CPU
    is at 100% utilization rendering to DV-AVI at about 1/5 realtime. As
    for the OS, you're right that it can preempt other processes, but in
    doing so, it's also taking up CPU time, which is the scarce resource

    I think the "3 hard drives" (system + source + render) suggestion makes
    plenty of sense only for someone who's got a CPU fast enough to turn
    the drives or ATA/SATA bus into a bottleneck.

    Anyway (and not surprisingly), adding a SATA drive for source material
    made a definite improvement over the single-drive situation I had when
    I first decided to try playing with video. (That's what it is, BTW:
    Playing. If I were expecting to make money doing it, I wouldn't be
    asking these questions.)
    Theodore, Sep 27, 2006
  20. "Theodore" wrote ...
    It has nothing to do with CPU speed. It has everything
    to do with disc access time (which is mechanical and
    VERY slow compared to the wimpiest CPU). Just the
    sound of your head assembly thrashing back and forth
    and back and forth and back and forth and back and forth
    and back and forth and back and forth and back and forth
    and back and forth and back and forth and back and forth
    while rendering is plenty of evidence without even
    knowing the CPU speed.
    Richard Crowley, Sep 28, 2006
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