System requirements - the use of external disks

I am a new user with dxo. My question is: How fast external drives are required in order to make dxo work as it should? My situation is that I have an old imac (2009-model) and will soon buy a new mac (probably wait for the new Imac?) But I guess the new Imac will have a small ssd drive. That means that I have to rely on an external drive. The other solution is to buy an Imac 2017 model with a 2tb or 3 tb fusion drive.

I was told that dxo need a fast drive in order to prosess photos and run like it should. If I choose to wait for the new Imac, and have to buy an external drive, I was wondering if I should buy a ssd-disk as my working drive. When dxo have processed the photos, I can back it up to a backup drive (which is not ssd).

I hope you can share some of your experiences with this and give me some advice:)

Apple’s current SSDs are many times faster than the SATA 2 and 3 SSDs that are in my MP and MBP so I can’t really speak to how much of a difference you’ll notice there, but with that said, I wouldn’t buy a new Mac without SSD (for system performance in general).

However most of my files are on a server via GigaBit Ethernet. Do I notice a difference between 1 Gb/sec over the net and 6Gb over local SATA, yeah… but it is not as great as you might imagine. Because of this I think a USB3 external SSD will be plenty fast for editing photos. And frankly, even a fast 7200rpm spinning drive will be ok.

Now granted I do not cull or search images using PhotoLab. I use a dedicated DAM for cataloging and thumb-nailing, and use it to search/manage my images… opening them from there directly into PhotoLab.

Actually the slowest part of the workflow is oneself thinking what to do next! I recently got a 2017 iMac 27" i5 and my 10 years of images go on 2Tb fusion drive dead easily, 690Gb for all the RAW and theme sorted .jpg (.5 to 1Mb). Before I got that sorted, I found working off my image back-up drive 1Tb firewire perfectly acceptable. NB modern iMacs don’t have a firewire port and it takes 2 expensive mac only converters to get firewire to current thunderbolt. Recent 1Tb USB drives are fine for routine back-up while one has coffee, lunch and other diversions.

One of the huge advantages of DxO/PL is that the original RAW files never get larger. I had a quick mess with AffinityPhoto and found my original 21MB nefs got to well over 100Mb before I had really got going, never mind finished an edit.

Thank you for your answers!
This is what I was told by Dxo:

"Thank you for writing and for the question. Whether you can use photo files stored on daisy-chained hard drives depends on the drives and type of connection you use. DxO PhotoLab is a very high performance program. It will make demands on your computer that other post production programs will not make because it is proactive in nature, not reactive. That is, as soon as you select a folder to use, the program begins importing the files in the folder and automatically starts processing the files. This processing consists of analyzing the information in each individual file, creating a unique set of processing settings for each file, and rendering the files for use in the program. Because of this, there must constantly be a very high level of data transfer between the files and the program. In many cases, daisy-chaining files together can result in good data communications for the first drive, but increasing slower transfer speeds for the drives further down the chain. Normally, we recommend that only drives that are directly connected to the computer be used with PhotoLab in order to maintain the highest level of communication between the drives and the program. The use of daisy-chained drives can result in the program not being able to process your photos.

Get a drive with the highest transfer rate and reliability you can find. As we noted, DxO PhotoLab 2 is a very high performance program. If data is not provided to it in a timely manner from the system, this can cause processing and compatibility errors. We do not have a minimum transfer speed to recommend because, again, everyone’s needs and systems are different.

Also, get a system with as much system memory as you can afford, and as good a video card with as much video memory as you can afford. Remember, you are not just purchasing a system to run PhotoLab 2, no one does that. You are purchasing a system to run all of the programs you normally use."

This answer from Dxo makes me wonder what kind of external drive is best to use. I have to buy a new iMac soon. The internal ssd disks have little storage capacity, so I have to buy external drives too. What is the best solution? Just ssd-disks? I have almost 2 tb of photos… Perhaps a fast working drive (ssd) and an ordinary hard-drive ( large storage capacity backup-drive)?

You need to separate out three issues:
1 - you need an internal HD in excess of 2TB, which means a “fusion disk”, ie part SSD, part rotating. One would like to think a pure SSD, having no moving parts, would last for ever; not so. You can have all your photos on it. The system sorts out what you need the fastest access to, therefore SSD, and what you don’t, so on the rotating part.

2 - you need to choose between i7 chip, which is fastest or i5 chip which runs cooler - look up discussion on DPReview forums. I went for i5 as my impression was that my previous box (MBP 17") died of heat related problems and there is also tolerance of fan noise

3 - you need back-up in case the internal drive packs in abruptly. Ideally you would have a huge SSD with thunderbolt 3 connection, but that would be seriously expensive. From my recent experience of really needing back-up (internal drive failing with rest of the computer not far behind), you have 2 back-ups, one using TM and 1 using SuperDuper or CCCloner. Might as well use cheap USB3. NB if you already have a Firewire or Thunderbolt 2 drive, you have to balance the cost of writing it off and going to USB or expensive converter(s).

Most people uses a Nass (network diskserver) as a backup and storage place.
(it’s also outside your home/work network usable if you use FTP (i would use a VPN then also to aviod unwanted firewall weakness.)
I didn’t test running the DataBase from a nass but i suspect if you got a 1gb network most would be fast enough.
It’s also possible to run a script for backupping in the cloud on that Nass.

I not sure why you want all archived images accessible from SSD.
I suspect you don’t work on all 2TB of images at once.
External HDD/SSD can be stolen, lost/misplaced/forgotten somewhere when useage is mobile. (if all images are at home on a disk and your home is lost by fire or something everything is lost, so a cloud back up is priority for images and documents you can’t affort to lose.

A nass at home and a cloudsolution is everywhere accessible if you have internetconnection.

i think if you create a “workfolder” and a export folder(finished images) on the imac SSD and use a script/application to syncronise this on a Nass folder/cloud you can work on images you like fast (SSD). When done, clear out the workfolder by transporting the rawfiles to your archive inside the Nass. (if you want a second run with it you can copy those from the archive back in the workfolder internally and sync with your imac , done. (delete when done, it’s a copy.)

(only one problem is DataBase of DAM. that’s having a problem. Because it sees only the workfolder.)

So second type (then the DAM sees all images) can be use of a Nass and thus a networkfolder. at home /or at work it should be no problem i think (if you get a fast enough read/write speed which is depending on the type of Nass and your network speed). export to disk writing you can do on the SSD of the imac.

Ofcaorse a SSD external: Esata /USB3 type as extension for dataspace (projects and such as holiday’s storageunit.) to bring along all the time can be working also, but i would be having a cloud or nass to backup this data disk every time i like to.