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Huge Photoshop Files Need a Fast Working Drive

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My professional photographic work involves Photoshop files that often save to sizes in the 2-8GB range. Of course, enabling the Disable Compression of PSD/PSB files in Photoshop CS6 is critical for save and open speed, but that’s marginal unless you also have a really fast working drive.

OWC Mercury Accelsior PCIe SSD card

For example, if the file is 7GB (7000MB) and the drive can only write at 150 MB/sec (fast for a hard drive), then the file cannot save in less than about 46 seconds, simply because of disk I/O speed.

When files take too long to save, there is a tendency to not save very often, which is a Very Bad Idea.

For the fastest possible save speed, I use a pair of OWC Mercury Accelsior PCIe SSD cards in a RAID-0 stripe. That’s on a Mac Pro, but any Mac with Thunderbolt can use a PCIe SSD via the OWC Mercury Helios enclosure.

The RAID-0 stripe is somewhat helpful over one card but less gain than one might hope because Photoshop itself maxes out at around 600MB/sec. Still, the striping gives me twice the space to work in at a blazing ~1200MB/sec. So my file saves and opens run as fast as they can possibly run.

Most users should just stick with one card, or possibly two separate cards/volumes for specific purposes (e.g. one PCIe SSD dedicated to Lightroom catalogs, and another for a working area for anything disk intensive).

My working Photoshop files over time
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