View Full Version : Internal vs. External RAID hard drives?

December 5th, 2009, 03:37 AM
Hello friends,

I have read on other video editing sites and forums that I can get better work flow and data back-up by using a RAID hard drive(s) to store all my raw video/photo and project files instead of keeping them on the boot drive with my OS and applications.

Does anyone have experience and/or advice as to cost/benefit analysis of internal vs. external RAID drives and what are the best solutions?

RAID 0, 1, 5? Could I use an internal RAID for work flow and a single external drive for backup or is it better to do it all with one RAID system?
Is my budget the only issue when choosing the size of the array or are there other considerations. (I.e: 2TB-8TB, 2 drives vs 4, etc.) I would like to keep the cost under $500.
How important are "hot swappable" drives? (external system only)
What sort of realistic data transfer rates can I expect from the different set ups?
What about expandability?

I've considered building an internal RAID (I have 4 additional SATA slots available in my case and a 700w power supply) but some folks really seem to like the external option. My MSI X58 Pro-E motherboard has a RAID controller on it so I think all I need to do is install the drives and set up the bios or is there more to it? I think I have enough cooling with four 120mm fans and a liquid cooled Core i7 but do the external set ups have better reliability and/or functionality?

Currently, I will be working mostly with standard definition files and not HD but that could change by next spring. I now have about 300 gigs of raw, SD footage from 3 different camcorders and will be creating motorsports shows from 10-60min in length. I am learning PE8 and Roxio Creator 2010 Pro but plan to eventually shift to Adobe Premiere CS4 and/or Sony Vegas Pro.

Any thoughts are appreciated. Thanks for your time.

Joe @

"Practice radical humility."

December 5th, 2009, 07:48 AM

Have you read this very current thread here?



December 7th, 2009, 12:41 AM
Thanks for the link to that thread but I'm still confused.
Those comments seem to be contrary to what I've read on other sites BUT... those sites were dealing with the higher end Adobe, Avid and Sony editing programs.

I'm confused by what C. Engels stated in that other thread but... I'm the rookie here. HE states; "RAID configurations do not provide a significant boost in performance." but is referring to his RAID 1 set up which is not intended to improve performance. As I understand it only a RAID 0 or 5 will increase throughput with the RAID 5 offering back up as well. He recommended putting the Elements application on a RAID drive and all the files on a non-RAID drive. I thought the idea was to put all the files on the RAID drive! The idea being to gain throughput speed and/or back-up. Will putting the application on a RAID drive offer performance or stability improvements over it running off a standard HDD?

I would prefer to leave my internal drive dedicated to my OS and Applications (no storage). But this means I need to buy at least one more drive (external or internal) to use for daily system backups. This is where I started this thread... wondering if a RAID would be of benefit to me or if just plain storage is all I need.

If we ignore the RAID issue for a moment:

I currently have a single, 1TB internal drive and a single 1TB external, Western Digital USB drive (NON-RAID). I am using the external drive as the source for clips imported into each project and then occasionally back up that drive to my internal HDD. I do this because I understood that keeping the clip library on a separate HDD from the editing application will improve any editing software performance and reliability.

How do I assign the project and scratch files to an external HDD? This seems to be something that everyone agrees will improve performance and stability for PE8.

Any input or clarification on the RAID issue is also appreciated.


Joe @

December 7th, 2009, 07:01 AM

In case CE should miss your thread when he visits here, I will send him a private message asking him to respond to your questions on his comments.

If necessary, I will add further comments on the matter after that.


Chuck Engels
December 7th, 2009, 09:48 AM
If you are editing video then use a RAID 0 or 5 configuration, not RAID 1 (mirroring).
Those RAID setups will improve response time but I don't think it will be significant enough to make it worthwhile.

RAID configurations are primarily used by large companies with huge servers handling large amounts of data. A single drive has a single arm hitting the disk to read and write data to the drive. In a RAID configuration (like RAID 0) there are multiple drives acting as one single drive. If there are 2 drives in the configuration then it is like adding an extra arm to the drive, now two arms can read and write at the same time to the same (virtually the same) drive.

If you have your scratch disks and project files on one drive and your program on another drive you are pretty much accomplishing the same thing. Besides, on a single user machine, and with drives as fast as they are these days, there isn't much need to read and write that much data all at one time.

Now, if you are into heavy animation and 3D work, where rendering takes hours for a few minutes of video, it may be beneficial. But for simple video editing with Premiere Elements I don't think you will notice much, if any, improvement in performance.

December 7th, 2009, 11:19 AM

Thanks for the additional information.


December 8th, 2009, 02:00 AM
Thank you both for the clarification!

That's very helpful. It sounds like I can just keep things simple for now until I really need the extra performance.

Now, how do I assign the scratch and project files to a separate drive?

Joe @

December 8th, 2009, 06:38 AM

Scratch File location can be assigned via Edit Menu/Preferences/Scratch Discs, setting for the external hard drive.

Your project .prel and the AutoSaves (if you have that feature on) will be saved to wherever you indicated in the New Project Dialog before the workspace opens.

So, if you wanted everything in the same place on the external hard drive, you might consider:
1. Project .prel saved to external hard drive in the new project dialog
2. Scratch Discs (in preferences) set to Same As Project

All sorts of possibilities. You might want to manage your project .prels by developing a folder structure for each project .prel so that, when it comes time to deleting a specific project, you will have all the files for that project in its own folder.

Please update us on your progress.


December 15th, 2009, 08:31 AM

You probably do not need the following information but I am including it in your thread for others who might be wondering what RAID drives are.

The following link is an overview, meant as a intro into the subject and not an end all review and discussion of RAID drives and their use.