Chapter 4, Creating the Digital Archive, Part 2: Hardware Configurations
Hard Drive Power Supplies
The power supply the drive will use depends on the case design. An internal
drive added to a tower computer will use the computer’s power supply. This
is tidier, because you dont have power cables running all over the place. It
does tax the computer’s power supply, however, and that can lead to failure
(watch out for an SPF).
The power supply for single-drive external cases is typically a “power brick
that sits outside of the case. If you are going to use these, try to always buy
the same brand so that you have “swappable” components to test with if
there is a problem.
The power supply for a multiple-drive case is usually inside the case, and is
a lot like the power supply inside your computer. If it fails, it can usually be
replaced with a generic one from a local computer store.
Hard Drive Interfaces
The third general consideration to make about hard drives is how they are
going to connect to the computer. The interface, naturally, will differ for
internal and external drives.
Internal hard drive interfaces
If you choose a configuration that uses internal drives, youll typically use a
SCSI, IDE/ATA, or Serial ATA (SATA) interface:
SCSI (Small Computer System Interface)
SCSI (pronounced Scuzzy) used to be the “gold standard” in hard
drives, offering easy connectivity and fast speeds. However, SCSI drives
are generally smaller in capacity and more expensive than other options.
These days, they are typically used as working drives only when the
highest possible speed is important. For example, they might be used as
Photoshop “scratch disksbecause of their high data throughput.
IDE/ATA (Integrated Drive Electronics/Advanced Technology Attachment)
IDE or ATA drives (the terms are pretty much interchangeable) are the
most common kind of hard drives. They have been the standard inter-
nal drive for many years. Each IDE/ATA drive needs to be configured
with a “jumper” as either a master or a slave (if two drives are connect-
ed to the same cable, the master typically shows up ahead of the slave
when the computers OS lists the available drives). For the last several
years, IDE/ATA drives have also come with a “cable select” (CS) option,
where the connector cable itself is able to set a drive as either the master
or the slave. There is usually a jumper diagram on the drive that can tell
you how to set a drive as master, slave, or CS. If it is not marked on the
drive, you can usually find the settings listed on the manufacturer’s web
site. IDE/ATA connections will have a specified top speed. IDE/ATA33
Choosing Your Hard Drives
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Digital Asset Management
is the slowest you are likely to see, and 133 is the fastest. If you are add-
ing IDE/ATA capacity, go for the faster specification.
SATA (Serial ATA)
SATA is the newest flavor of ATA. It has higher data throughput, so
it can read and write faster than regular (parallel) ATA. And because
drives don’t have to be set as masters or slaves, configuration is slightly
easier. SATA is currently the drive of choice for high performance at a
good price. Note that the connectors for ATA and SATA are not inter-
changeable. If you want to add SATA drives to a computer that did not
originally come with them, you will need to add a PCI expansion card
to provide this connectivity, as well as a power cord adapter.
External hard drive interfaces
The most common way to connect external drives is through FireWire
(IEEE1394) or USB2. (Stay away from USB1, because the transfer rates are
too slow for image files.) Fibre Channel is another up-and-coming high-
throughput option, although it’s currently prohibitively expensive. If you are
hardware-savvy, you can also choose to use external SATA drives, but this
will probably require some custom configuration. Here are the options:
FireWire and USB2 interfaces have the advantage of being easily avail-
able and generally “plug and play.It’s very easy to add drives, and you
can daisy-chain” them (adding one drive onto another, and so on). I
find using a big drive box connected by FireWire to be a great way to
Choosing Your Hard Drives
Figure 4-18.
: Stock, Highway, Tunnel, Speed, Blur, Truck
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