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Thread: eSATA!.. is it worth it?

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    A royal pain in the bum! arthurking83's Avatar
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    eSATA!.. is it worth it?

    eSATA, USB3, Firewire800... whatever!.. is it worth it?

    I recently purchased an external eSATA/USB2 enclosure for a drive(2Tb), and have only just started using it in anger.

    Speeds are not exactly how I imagined them to be. No problem with read speeds tho.
    my first experience with it was good @ 40-45MB/s.

    My first experience with writing to it(in anger!).. 250(odd)Gb of files off an external USB2 drive(@1Tb) wasn't too bad. Averaging about 20MB/s.
    I'm using Win7's copy and paste displayed transfer speeds as a guide. because there was about 3-5hours of transferring time, I came in and out and did other stuff on the PC concurrently.. just having a quick squizz to see how fast things were travelling along.
    My transfer times are not in any way a scientific analysis, just quick observations at any given moment.

    Today I transferred another 50G of data from an internal SATA drive, to the eSATA drive again.
    Speed started off nicely at 45MB/s for a few minutes(maybe the buffer was doing it's job??), then slowly started to drop, steadily, but worryingly too quickly.
    It got to as slow as 16.9MB/s for a long time. Thinking that this was some large group of small files or something, I sat and watched it for a minute or two to see how long it'd last at that speed... I gave up before two mins!(boring! ).
    16.9MB/s is not what I expected at all.

    I was hoping for at least 2x USB2 speeds, which I regularly get to 10-12MB/s over a long transfer time.

    I realise that transferring via Windows's copy/paste method may not be ideal, and I do have a backup program called RichCopy, which allows multiple threading and stuff like that(which I don't fully understand, but kind'a do!) and using that I can get approx 12-15Mb/s write speeds to one of my 1Tb USB2 drives, which is about 50% full.

    I also did a read test, from the eSATA drive back to the internal SATA drive, and got a min 50MB/s. So the drive is fast, and the eSATA interface is also fast enough in read mode.
    But!... at a guess, it seems that a realistic write speed would be more like 20MB/s, which is what I have regularly seen(except for that slow '16.9MB/s' stage just a few minutes ago).
    I was kind'a hoping to see write speeds more like 1/2 read speeds(ie. at least 25MB/s) and hopefully 30MB/s.
    I do get these speeds for small transfers, like a few hundred Mb's or so, but once the amount of data starts to get to 500M or 1G, then thing slow down dramatically.

    I think Win7 has a performance indicator tool somewhere that I once saw.. don't how to access it, or if it measures hdd performance. I'll get HDTACH again to do more accurate testing again.

    Anyone else have USB/eSATA/FW drives and noticed the performances of the drives?

    I've seen USB3 external drives offered for sale. I'm loathe to purchase one, just to find out that the speed advantage is minimal. My motherboard does have USB3 capability too tho.

    Are there any tips or tricks, apart from the larger block size, that can help to speed up a hdd?
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    Moderately Underexposed I @ M's Avatar
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    Started transferring stuff through usb to the new drive yesterday, I wouldn't have a clue on how many mb/s it was running at but one large folder ( 200gb ) said it was going to take 160 something minutes, I just went away and let it do it's thing.
    Andrew
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    Did you use the Windows copy-paste method?
    if so, with Win7, there is now the option to see the transfer rate with a 'details' tab which gives a bit more info than the average transferring files message.
    One of the details it shows is transfer speeds... quite handy to know!

    You know! ..... do I sit and wait ..... or do I go on holiday for a week ... to Marlo

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    The raw max transfer rate is one thing.
    Transfers are limited by whatever is the slowest part of the connection.
    Eg. the system disk speed, the external disk speed, what else is running on the PC etc.

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    eSATA is exactly the same as SATA; the only difference is the cable shielding, so you should get the same performance.

    I'd suspect windows is the culprit. POS.
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    Moderately Underexposed I @ M's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by arthurking83 View Post
    Did you use the Windows copy-paste method?
    if so, with Win7, there is now the option to see the transfer rate with a 'details' tab which gives a bit more info than the average transferring files message.
    One of the details it shows is transfer speeds... quite handy to know!

    You know! ..... do I sit and wait ..... or do I go on holiday for a week ... to Marlo


    Just the 'move files' on xp, I have enough troubles with cameras let alone computers.

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    Ausphotography Regular gcflora's Avatar
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    I have the standard SATA cables hanging out the back of my computer that I just plug normal SATA drives into (Well, I actually have a plate that came with one of my Gigabyte motherboards so they're not just hanging there, but... same diff)
    Craig

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    Hi

    Just tried copying the same small folder of photos to:
    1. eSata 500gB drive - 69 MB/s (using Win 7 details during copy).
    2. USB 1TB drive - 16.9 MB/s.

    Hope this helps.
    David

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    motherboard has one eSATA plug out the back, which didnt' need connecting to any motherboard SATA ports, and the case I purchased has an eSATA plug as one of the onboard connector types, the motherboard is Firewwire capable, but has no FW ports anywhere, nor were any add on ports supplied.

    I just did a 'quick' test using the rear motherboard eSATA port and approx 250G's transferred at approximately 16MB/s(as an average speed, that I noted). Speeds dipped into the 14's on a few occasions and I just gave up waiting after about 3hours and went to bed to leave it to it's own devices.

    Normal (internal)SATA speeds seem to be pretty quick... well at least quicker than the 15MB/s that I'm seeing with the eSATA drive at the moment.

    I'm going to try one of the case connectors, which are connected to a motherboard SATA port... see how that goes.

    Just for kicks!.. using PC Wizard's benchmarking tools, I checked the apparent speeds that each drive is kind of capable of:

    main 1Tb Samsung C drive gives:
    Sequential Writing : 52.3 MB/s (Cpu usage : 0%)
    Sequential Read : 68.65 MB/s (Cpu usage : 5%)
    Buffered Writing : 149.08 MB/s (Cpu usage : 6%)
    Buffered Reading : 177.66 MB/s (Cpu usage : 6%)
    Random Reading : 37 MB/s (Cpu usage : 9%)

    One my separate 250G drives(for cache) yields:
    Sequential Writing : 64.11 MB/s (Cpu usage : 0%)
    Sequential Read : 68.41 MB/s
    Buffered Writing : 67.5 MB/s
    Buffered Reading : 115.01 MB/s (Cpu usage : 33%)
    Random Reading : 54 MB/s (Cpu usage : 35%)

    The eSATA drive(2Tb):
    Sequential Writing : 113.04 MB/s (Cpu usage : 3%)
    Sequential Read : 82.5 MB/s (Cpu usage : 1%)
    Buffered Writing : 104.31 MB/s (Cpu usage : 38%)
    Buffered Reading : 108.06 MB/s (Cpu usage : 38%)
    Random Reading : 36 MB/s (Cpu usage : 33%)

    EDIT:
    eSATA drive via the case port:
    Sequential Writing : 77.13 MB/s (Cpu usage : 0%)
    Sequential Read : 106.97 MB/s (Cpu usage : 33%)
    Buffered Writing : 120.73 MB/s (Cpu usage : 67%)
    Buffered Reading : 136.38 MB/s (Cpu usage : 67%)
    Random Reading : 48 MB/s (Cpu usage : 67%)



    1Tb USB drive gives:
    Sequential Writing : 41.9 MB/s (Cpu usage : 0%)
    Sequential Read : 42.72 MB/s (Cpu usage : 3%)
    Buffered Writing : 42.76 MB/s (Cpu usage : 37%)
    Buffered Reading : 42.99 MB/s (Cpu usage : 37%)
    Random Reading : 29 MB/s (Cpu usage : 42%)

    I wasn't really seeing this kind of speed, and I think the USB drives were maxing out at about 12MB/s.

    Not this is with both Windows file copy method and using RichCopy, which I use for my backups.
    RichCopy, which is free, has a ton of configuration options(most of which I don't understand) and one of these is the number of files to search for and copy.
    On the USB2 drives, I found that 5 file copy threads seems to max out the bandwidth to that 10-12MB/s rate(viewed on the status bar on RichCopy).

    Doing the same with the eSATA drive maxes it out at about 15-16MB/s using the rear motherboard port.

    I just disconnected the eSATA cable from the rear port and popped it into one of the case ports(connected directly to a SATA port on the mainboard, and speeds went up.. not by much, 17MB/s lowest, and 18-20 speeds were the norm!... yay!

    So I played with the number of simultaneous files copied and varied them from 10-2 files.

    @ 10 files per copy, I started seeing 10MB/s down from the much nicer looking 17-10MB/s, so I went the other way, and set the thread numbers down to 5 searches and 2 copies, and now I'm seeing 26-30MB/s on the eSATA drive!

    Now! This is much closer to the 3x speeds I was hoping for on this eSATA drive
    note! I'm copying these files from the USB2 drive... which has over 4 years worth of photos on it... close to 1Tb

    davidd!.. how large was the file you copied?
    I can occasionally see fast speeds even on USB and memory cards, but the files are small.. 20-100Megs or so.
    The hdd's buffer size makes a difference for smallish files being transferred too ... and whatever other system buffers are being used.
    My speeds are referring to sustained 100's of gigs .. currently 640Gigs being transferred from the USB2 drive .. added to the 230Gigs from the on board SATA drive where my current years worth of photos are stored, which I backed up last night ... I think I need to get a real life!

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    I have an eSata enclosure and just transferred a 2.8 gig file (single file mind you) to the drive in it and got speeds hovering around 80mb/s according to Win 7,after starting out at 95..

    Both the source and destination drives are WD Caviar Black 1TB drives, in relation to which my research at the time were amongst the quickest.

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    Thanks Tony!

    Ok.. now I'm feeling somewhat deflated again!

    Have never tried to transfer any single large files across yet.

    But I'm curious, have you ever transferred many smaller files(say 25megs each) from many directories in large quantities?

    I keep all my images in folder per year shot, and then in sub directories of where and then date and so forth ... many smaller files in many folders seem to slow down the system quite a bit.

    I'd be curious as to how fast... say 100Gigs... of photos transferred across ... using whatever process.

    I'm also going to look for any new motherboard/SATA drivers that may be available.

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    I just transferred 10 gig of D90 files (about 10 meg each) and transfer speeds levelled out at around 46.3mb/s. Happy to run any other testing that you might like.
    Last edited by maccaroneski; 16-08-2010 at 10:00pm.

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    Quote Originally Posted by arthurking83 View Post
    note! I'm copying these files from the USB2 drive
    Well that's where you're impact on performance is coming from right there!
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    Today I transferred another 50G of data from an internal SATA drive, to the eSATA drive again.
    Speed started off nicely at 45MB/s for a few minutes(maybe the buffer was doing it's job??), then slowly started to drop, steadily, but worryingly too quickly.
    It got to as slow as 16.9MB/s for a long time.
    Here's the issue though Richard....

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    Ausphotography Addict Richard Hall's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by maccaroneski View Post
    Here's the issue though Richard....
    Ah-ha! I was looking at the performance figures from the last test.

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    Thanks Rich (and Tony).

    I'm not 100% sure on the USB2 read speed being a limitation yet, my first large transfer was directly from a (separate) SATA drive, where I only keep my images. The other separate SATA is for cache and temp files.
    With configuring RichCopy to copy only 2 files at a time now, I now see that 26-30MB/s speed.
    Last night, reading off the internal SATA drive, I was only seeing 15MB/s average speeds, but that was copying 5 files at a time.
    With the USB drive, I didn't really see all that much difference in speed, approximately 2-5MB/s difference between copying 10 files or 2 files concurrently.. ie. approximately 12MB/s to 7MB/s.
    That's wayyyy too slow for 640Gigs of data.

    One other thing!

    does increasing the number of drives in the system slow down the hdd chip in any way.

    I have 4 internal drives running at any one time: main drive, photo storage drive, and cache(and temp files) drive: and one other drive used for switching between drives. I find(found) that formatting the cache drive on a regular basis speeds up programs that use the cache drive heavily.
    More so CaptureNX, as it uses the drive very heavily with it's large cache files, but same with ViewNX, and to a lesser degree, LR3 and I didn't really get a chance to try it with Bibble5(trial).
    I've now got GIMP installed and will see if this program also runs any faster with the cache drive formatted too?
    BUT! FWIW, when formatting the cache drive every so often, CaptureNX, my most used program, absolutely flies with respect to displaying the large tiff files it does.

    This eSATA 'issue' isn't really an issue as such. Once this lot of files is transferred across, I think I'm safe.
    The time difference in how long 640Gigs of data is going to take to backup is going to be significant when I'm doing it at 10MB/s compared to close to 30MB/s.

    anyhow.. I downloaded a few new chipset drivers and stuff.. some new OC tools to play with too .. see how it all goes over the next few days!

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    Ausphotography Addict Richard Hall's Avatar
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    One thing I've just thought of that may make a difference is whether or not AHCI is enabled in BIOS for SATA (usually not by default from what I've observed, it's usually set to IDE which it'll emulate). Have a look in BIOS under integrated peripherals, or similar. It'll basically allow for hot plugging of SATA drives and enables native command queuing (NCQ). Now NCQ might not give much of a performance increase, but I wouldn't rule it out entirely. Your mileage may vary!

    The one caveat though, is that AHCI needs to be enabled BEFORE installing your OS. WinXP supports AHCI with drivers (these need to be loaded from a floppy at installation via f6 like RAID drivers etc, or you could integrate them into the WinXP CD with nLite or similar which I prefer). Vista and Win7 supports AHCI with it's own drivers (or use the manufacturers drivers might be better) so you should be right there, you're running Win7 now I recall?

    To be honest, I've not tried enabling AHCI after installing an OS so I don't know what the results would be. I've read it will generally leave your system unbootable unless you enable them with a registry tweak before rebooting and enabling AHCI in BIOS.

    I just had to find out more about enabling them after OS installation as I've never tried it, so I just googled it and found this about the reg tweak. I'd be inclined to do a bit more reading before trying it though I think... just in case it creates the need for a full reinstall.

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    Aha! ahci.. OK.

    Last night I downloaded a newer version of AMD's ahci driver thingie.
    Installed tonight along with updated drivers... northbridge and other drivers.

    Will check the BIOS to see if this is enabled.

    Thanks Rich.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Richard Hall View Post
    .... I'd be inclined to do a bit more reading before trying it though I think... just in case it creates the need for a full reinstall.
    AHA!!AHAHAHA!!!

    well, I should have read the link, but as it was a link to a reg tweak, which I'm generally loathe to do, unless there is a huge advantage, I dismissed it!

    my bad!

    I subsequently went into the BIOS, to update it, as well as to enable the AHCI feature in the BIOS, and whaddya reckon happened!?



    PC booted fine for about 5 reboots, and I thought I was safe, except that for some reason, it couldn't find 'available media', and after disconnecting the eSATA drive before booting, it booted perfectly.
    Then BAM!.. it stopped.
    That link now makes perfect sense.. and only because I can read it now.. for the past two days I've been re installing OSes and stuff

    hindsight is a terrible thing!..

    not really a huge drama, as I've been meaning to do a fresh install, since I deleted LightRoom, as my PC slowed down massively since I installed it(must be noted tho, I also updated Syder3 Elite software at the same time, so that could have been a factor).

    Got to say tho... newer gen drives really make a huge difference to many apps.
    With the new drive I installed everything on, the PC really flew along at light speed.
    (FOR NOW ONLY!) I've currently installed everything to a spare 250G WD drive, obviously of older gen specs, and now everything is bound and gagged in large vats of cold molasses on a freezing cold day!... whoa!
    I'm going to get me a few new drives to play with again, and this current install on the WD250Gig drive is a spare backup if ever anything goes wrong ever again.

    NOTE! anyone else thinking of enabling AHCI... heed the warning do not enable it after installation.

    Damned couldn't figure out what went wrong a few days ago, and I thought it was me updating AMD drivers, and a few other drivers and software(Bluetooth) and stuff!

    now that it's enabled, I'll see if it was 'worth it'

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    Oh well... a fresh install can't hurt so long as you have backups of the non-OS (i.e. personal) files

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