Solid State Drive vs 2 Hard Disk Drives? SSD vs Multiple HDD

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oceanblood
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Solid State Drive vs 2 Hard Disk Drives? SSD vs Multiple HDD

Post by oceanblood » Fri Jul 12, 2013 12:38 am

Greetings everyone!!
I've got an old (6 years old) DAW and my OS HDD died. I ordered an SSD to replace it, and I'm finding myself asking questions I don't know the answer to.
Here it goes:

First of all, they way my system is set up, I've got the OS on one drive, I record my audio on a second drive, and all my samples are on a third drive. Now, from what I came to understand, the reason for this is two fold: Inside a physical drive there's a disk that spins and a little needle or eye that writes and reads data to the disk. Having multiple drives both speeds things up and extends the life of your drives since the needles don't have to do as much jumping around.
So here's my question: Since my new SSD doesn't have a spinning disk and a little needle in there, is there still a benefit to writing audio data to a separate physical disk? Should I still use an HDD to record audio data while I run my OS on the SSD, or would it be just as well to record the audio data straight on to the SSD that has the OS running on it? ALSO, when I finally start building my new machine, should it be set up the same way, but with all SSD? One for audio data recording, one for samples, one for OS? Or is that pointless since there's no disk and eye to worry about?? Are newer builds simply equipped with one big ass SSD?? Or is SSD not as good for recording audio data??
The main reason I'm concerned about this is because I'm now very concerned (as you can imagine) about the other HDD's in my system failing since the OS HDD just did. Since their time appears to be up... do I need to buy a couple more HDD's or can I simply transfer my audio data to my new SSD and just use it for recording from now on? AND, If I'm gonna be replacing the HDD's anyway (since they've apparently got one foot in the grave) should I just go for it at replace them with SSD (wayyyyy more expensive, of course :( ).
Yeah, you get the idea.. Please, someone who KNOWS the answer to this question help me out. I've been searching google for days trying to figure out the best course of action. THANKS SO MUCH GUYS!!!!!!!!
Oh,
for those who are interested, the drive I ordered is a Samsung 840 Pro.
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Post by kslight » Fri Jul 12, 2013 4:53 am

SSDs are really optimized for situations where they are always reading the same data, such as operating systems and software access. Everytime you write to them you eat into its projected life.

If you use one for constant read/write, it will wear out its life expectancy very quick, depending on how much work you do...could be 6 months. Smaller SSD drives wear out exponentially faster.

For organizational and integrity reasons, I always recommend a separate OS and audio drive (not just a partition). Much easier to manage, and better disk performance.


Because SSD is still bleeding edge and relatively unproven, has read/write use limitations, and is substantially more expensive...I would not trust one as anything but a boot drive at this time. I would choose a good quality enterprise level HDD over any SSD any day of the week.

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Post by Randyman... » Fri Jul 12, 2013 4:47 pm

FWIW - I've been running Intel (and lately Samsung) SSD's since 2009, and I have yet to "Wear one out". I even leave my Page File on the SSD and numerous VM's, and never had an issue since 2009.

The Samsung 840 Pro is basically the one to beat. You made a fantastic choice IMNSHO (that's what I run in my "SandyBridge-E" DAW).

I personally run my OS and all DAW Apps on my SSD, and leave the Project Files on my Hardware Areca RAID-6 array. If you have tons of VSTi's and sample libraries, you might need to install them to a hard drive since you only have 256GB on the SSD. Take inventory of your software and required drive space, and see what you come up with - go from there.

Don't worry abut using your screaming fast SSD for whatever you need. It will not wear out anytime soon. You will love boot times and overall system responsiveness hands down.

PS - If on a desktop, disable the Hibernation File and constrict the Page File to something like 512MB Minimum / 2048MB Max to free up some space. I also kill System Restore on all of my PC's as I handle all back-up images on my own (frees up more SSD space). If you are the type that relies on System Restore, I would suggest relying on cloned System Images instead ;)

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Post by oceanblood » Fri Jul 12, 2013 5:34 pm

ks... I just read this article:
http://us.hardware.info/reviews/4178/10 ... -20-6-2013

..... I think maybe 6 months is a little pessimistic??

Randyman!!
- Just reading about areca.. Hadn't heard of it. It's essentially a bunch of SATA ports in a pci-x slot? And those are hdd?

I've got about 30 gigs of audio data on my tracking drive, and that's six years of music recording (I only record my own stuff) The question is if I should transfer that 30 gigs to my new SSD and just track to that from now on (presumably another 30 gigs or so..), or should I spend 50 bucks on a new HDD to track on??

Thank you guys for replying!!!!
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Post by Randyman... » Fri Jul 12, 2013 6:30 pm

Indeed - That test showed like 760TB (760,000 GB) written before the SSD died. This will take a very long time under normal circumstances, and even in most "extreme" circumstances will be many many years. The test was way beyond anything you'd put the SSD through in real-world applications...

RE: The Areca RAID card: I'm a bit of a storage freak. I lean on hardware RAID cards for my important session data and anything I consider important. I'm not a fan of Motherboard RAID ("Software RAID"), so I always use Areca cards in my Desktop, DAW, and NAS computers for peace of mind. They are way overkill for my required performance desires, but I love the reliability and raw speed they allow with multiple hard drives. I run RAID-6, so I can lose any TWO hard drives, and not lose any important data.

Hardware RAID cards are pretty finicky about hard drives - you really need a drive that includes "TLER" ("Time Limited Error Recovery"), and most cheap "consumer" drives don't offer this. WD's "Red" series, and most any "Enterprise" class SATA drive will generally offer TLER as standard, but you will pay more for this feature (even though it's strictly a firmware based modification!). So hardware RAID is neat and reliable, but not what I'd call cheap...

The fault-tolerant RAID arrays (RAID 1, 5, 6, etc) certainly aren't required, but I'm a big fan. As long as you have a strict backup routine in place, you will be fine with single drives IMO. Do some research into Hardware and Software RAID, and come to your own conclusions - like I mentioned I'm a bit of a freak.

So - you don't have a lot of project data to worry about (I'm up to 5TB and counting), I'd say use your SSD to hold your projects and also use it for new projects, but keep a backup on the hard drive, and in at least one other location (preferably off-site to protect you from fire/flood/theft type losses).

This way you can use the SSD and realize INSANE project load times from the SSD with the warm and fuzzy feeling of knowing that you are backed up and fairly bullet-proof from data loss. Backup new projects religiously (daily, or after a good deal of new takes or edits) even if using a hard drive. I personally backup to 6 or 7 locations - Two RAID-6's, three RAID-5's, and two complete sets of single drives I rotate offsite in addition to single drives in my various PC's. (I'm a freak :shock: )

Lots to take in - Do some research and let us know if yo have any further inquiries on the subject :cool:
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Post by Snarl 12/8 » Sat Jul 13, 2013 8:46 pm

I don't know if this has been covered, but to the OP, my philosophy is that if you don't have computer data in 3 locations or media, you need to be able to live your life without that data. That 30 gigs of music data sounds incredibly valuable to you. What's your backup strategy? And in my opinion, you can't trust burned CD's/DVD's. I have some that are a few years old that just come up blank in my computer.
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Post by kslight » Sun Jul 14, 2013 11:08 am

oceanblood wrote:ks... I just read this article:
http://us.hardware.info/reviews/4178/10 ... -20-6-2013

..... I think maybe 6 months is a little pessimistic??

Randyman!!
- Just reading about areca.. Hadn't heard of it. It's essentially a bunch of SATA ports in a pci-x slot? And those are hdd?

I've got about 30 gigs of audio data on my tracking drive, and that's six years of music recording (I only record my own stuff) The question is if I should transfer that 30 gigs to my new SSD and just track to that from now on (presumably another 30 gigs or so..), or should I spend 50 bucks on a new HDD to track on??

Thank you guys for replying!!!!
No doubt I meant it to be pessimistic...there are unknown variables (from the original post on this thread) to consider of course...for example the size of the drive (bigger drives will last longer than smaller ones, in the solid state world...because there is more room of course to write/rewrite data to). And of course it would depend on the amount of work you do, the kind of track counts, resolution you deal with....
I personally run my OS and all DAW Apps on my SSD, and leave the Project Files on my Hardware Areca RAID-6 array. If you have tons of VSTi's and sample libraries, you might need to install them to a hard drive since you only have 256GB on the SSD. Take inventory of your software and required drive space, and see what you come up with - go from there.
This is exactly what I was talking about as the ideal way to use SSDs. Of course you are not consuming near the amount of write/rewrite operations, so the drive will last substantially longer in this configuration.

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Post by TimOBrien » Mon Jul 15, 2013 1:01 pm

SSD's aren't magic and you could still run into the problem of audio buffers overrunning if the OS, services or apps keep making disk calls. Your goal is the smooth, uninterrupted streaming of all data all the time.

Best efficiency solution:

OS, apps and plugins on boot drive
Sample libraries on a second separate drive
Audio tracks and projects on another separate drive

I've used this type of setup since my PII-450mhz days and have never had any problems.

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Post by oceanblood » Mon Jul 15, 2013 2:37 pm

Hey, thanks everyone for the replies. Tim, as I stated in my original post, my set up was just that. OS on one drive, audio tracking on another, samples on a third. My question was 1: if SSD rendered this set up superfluous, and 2: if not, should all three of those drives be SSD. I'm getting the impression here that I should track on HDD, since there's so many read/write operations of so much data, and probably put my samples on HDD as well, since there's like 300GB of samples. I suppose I'm just gonna have to replace my old tracking and sample hard drives, don't want them to die on me like the OS did. Snarl, yes this data is very valuable to me, but you're saying I should back up my tracking and sample data twice over? That's a lot of hard drives!! :/
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Post by Randyman... » Mon Jul 15, 2013 4:32 pm

oceanblood wrote:Snarl, yes this data is very valuable to me, but you're saying I should back up my tracking and sample data twice over? That's a lot of hard drives!! :/
Randyman... wrote:Backup new projects religiously (daily, or after a good deal of new takes or edits) even if using a hard drive. I personally backup to 6 or 7 locations - Two RAID-6's, three RAID-5's, and two complete sets of single drives I rotate offsite in addition to single drives in my various PC's. (I'm a freak :shock: )
Indeed - Protecting valuable data is not cheap. Only you can decide how much to invest in protecting your valuable data. 2 Backups is the generally agreed BARE MINIMUM - and this includes the "Original" as the 3rd copy. At least ONE of these copies should be offsite.

If you have your Software and Sample's install DVD's, you can count those DVD's as a backup - but I'd still keep the installers in multiple places. Storage is dirt cheap - time and hassle is not...

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Post by Snarl 12/8 » Mon Jul 15, 2013 10:13 pm

+1
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Post by GooberNumber9 » Wed Jul 17, 2013 11:29 am

SSDs are WAY faster than normal spindle HDDs, but they are also WAY more expensive per GB. The ideal situation, if you can afford it, would be three SSDs: a built-in one for OS and software, an external for samples, and another external for audio tracks. The only reason I don't record to my built-in SSD is because I would run out of space very fast. As the article shows, there is no need to worry about SSD lifetimes versus spindle-based drives.

For me 30 GB is like one album after all the tracking and bouncing and what-not, so I can't afford enough SSD storage for my audio. I'm currently booting from a built-in SSD and recording to a bus-powered 1 TB USB 3.0 external spindle-based drive and loving it.

Seven months old but still valuable insight:
http://www.digitaltrends.com/computing/ ... sk-drives/

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Re: Solid State Drive vs 2 Hard Disk Drives? SSD vs Multiple

Post by Patanjali » Fri Aug 09, 2013 11:13 am

@oceanblood

SSDs are fully random, with no head travel time required, so theoretically, if you do not have a lot of audio, you could have projects and OS on one drive.

Use separate partitions and if you are using Windows, you can format the OS partition with default 4KB sectors and the projects drive with 64kB sectors. Because of the large sizes of multimedia files, there is little wasted space (0.5%) with 64kB sectors.

Even with HDDs, I have found copying several GBs of mixed size files between drives formatted with 64kB sectors to be 30-50% faster than with 4kB sectors.

If you have lots of audio, you will want to have a separate projects drive.

NEVER use separate partitions on HDDs if using them concurrently, because then you are forcing unecessary head travel time. When I had HDDs, I would 'short stroke' them by making a small partition on each of the larger drives dedicated to projects or samples. This capped the head travel time. The other partitions on the drives were for general data (used when booting from the non-DAW OS partition), copies of software installation files for the computer, or cross-backups of the first partitions on other drives.


About SSD write limitations re DAWs, most tracks are recorded, may have some editing, and then hang around for maybe days being read while other tracks are recorded. 10,000 writes (per block for MLC SSDs) = 5 writes per day for 5.5 years.

However, SSDs use wear-levelling algorithms that share the write lifecycle load amongst the free block pool, so even if you edit and save a track a lot, it is not being written to exactly the same block each time. A reason to make sure there is a sizable free space, even above and beyond the blocks the firmware hides to use for the purpose.

Basically, you would have to be doing a huge lot of database writes to run an SSD down.

Note that the expiration of write lifecycles does not result in data loss, just a reduction in overall capacity when already written data is erased and the block is then withdrawn from write availability.

If you ever start noticing loss of capacity, just relegate the drive to holding samples, which predominently read-only (with occasional but spotty updates) and replace it with the latest and greatest. This is much much cheaper than getting SLC SSDs (100,000 write cycles per block).

The last brings me to samples. If using HDDs, it is better to spread them across several drives, as it allows paralleling up head travel times. For SSDs, the largest are the most expensive per GB, so using multiple smaller ones is more economical. Under Windows, you can use hard links (junctions) to make a folder on one drive appear to programs like they are part of the folder tree of another. I do this with my EWQL Pianos, where the Steinway samples are on another SSD, because they wouldn't all fit on one 250GB SSD.

By the way, DO NOT skimp on HDDs for backup. They are dirt cheap compared to losing your data and the time to recreate them, if you can!


@GooberNumber9
You only have to have the current projects on the drive. I backup projects from my 128GB SATA 6GB/s SSD daily to a separate dated folder on two NAS drives. Actually, I back it up to one, and that is automatically backed up overnight to the other. I backup that to a dedicated HDD about weekly.
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