Thursday, January 17, 2013

Small Talk: Using SSD with Aperture


I use Aperture on my '09 quad core MacPro with 8GB ram. I use a 1TB WD Black Caviar HDD to hold the library. This disk is less than half full and regularly defragmented and is separate from the system disk.

When I shoot an event I return and load maybe 500 pictures into an new project on the disk.
I then go through them cropping, leveling and perhaps adjusting the exposure to get the best out of them before exporting as jpegs and uploading to my website for people to view and hopefully buy. I try to do this process the same night or the next day whilst people are still keen and interested.

Even with a good spec machine and HDD I find the delays in making these adjustments make the task tiresome. Often when cropping a picture which I do to most shots there is a delay of maybe 1 to 2secs but other times it's almost instant.

Anyway I was thinking of purchasing a small solid state drive (SSD) say 40GB, perhaps the OWC Mercury Extreme model. This would be used to hold just the latest project whilst working through it. Then once done the project would be exported and loaded into my main library on the 1TB HDD.

Has anyone any experience of using an SSD with Aperture files and does it make much difference to performance?

Any advice much appreciated.




SSD helps a lot. Masters do need to load for cropping.

I have my Referenced-Masters Library on SSD and it absolutely rocks. I intend to always keep the Library on SSD, buying larger SSDs when necessary. I cannot say enough good things about SSD. I initially keep the referenced Masters on the SSD and then later move them to a HD.

Your CPU should be fine but Aperture demands a strong GPU too and yours is not identified.

I encourage you to move to SSD. 40 GB however seems like a waste of time. I would buy a larger size.

-Allen Wicks



Well at last my 40 GB SSD drive from OWC arrived at the end of last week, about three weeks after ordering it!

Anyway yesterday I had the chance to use it with a relatively small batch of about 200 new pictures and can honestly say it feels much slicker. When moving from picture to picture they now appear almost instantly. Before with my WD HDD there was always a delay with the "Loading" label at the top of the picture for what seemed like a second or two which made the process tiresome.

Cropping of pictures is also much quicker with very little delay. With the old HDD I could sometimes literally count one......two......almost three.... before the crop would take affect and the picture redisplayed.

Yes, I think I can say with some confidence this was a worthwhile purchase and would recommend to anyone having to work through large batches of pictures.

Obviously 40GB isn't very big, not big enough to hold a full collection but It's certainly big enough to hold the latest set of pictures off of my 16GB CF card whilst I work through them. Once finished working through them I export the project and import it into my main library on my 1TB HDD and erase the project from the SSD leaving space for the next.



Hi Dave -- thanks for posting your experience.  I'm curious -- and I think the knowledge would be generally useful -- if there is any noticeable advantage of doing what you seem to be doing vs. just putting your Masters on the SSD.

So, first let's confirm what you are doing:  Importing newly-made photographs from a camera card to a Project in a Library on your SSD, with all images having Managed Masters, doing your adjustments and metadata, and then exporting as a Project, importing that Project into your "main" Library on another drive, and deleted the Project in the Library on the SSD.

The workflow I'd like to be tested is similar, but avoids the entire Library-on-the-SSD.  Using such a set-up one would:  Import newly-made photographs from a camera card to a Project in one's main Library on the system drive, with all the Images having Referenced Masters stored on the SSD, doing one's adjustments and metadata, and then relocate (or consolidate) the Masters for all Images in that Project.

This seems to be a better workflow to me -- but I don't know and can't measure the cost in performance.  If you think it might work for you and give it a try, let us know what you find out.



Wary is sensible -- but there's nothing to worry about.  Aperture needs a Master to create an Image, and it needs to know where that Master is.  The default is for Aperture to manage the placement and storage of the Image's Masters:  it stores them in a sub-folder of your Library package.  These are Managed Masters.  Your Masters, though, can go anywhere you want.  You use Aperture to move them, and Aperture keeps track of where they are.

What I'm suggesting here is that when you import your photograph files, you import them into your main Library, but tell Aperture to store them on your SSD.  The will:

. create an Image in your Library
. create a copy of your photograph file on your SSD
. link the Image to the file on your SSD

Voila! -- those Images now have Referenced Masters.

You can change Images' Masters from Managed to Referenced or from Referenced to Managed at any time.  These changes must be done from within Aperture (don't ever do any file operations other than copy on any Masters).

What fits with your current workflow (as best I can tell from the information you've provided) is to import your photograph files as above, make all your initial adjustments (with the Masters on the SSD as Referenced Masters), and then use "File→Consolidate Masters" on those Masters to move them from the SSD to inside your Library (and thus on your system drive), thus changing them from Referenced Masters (on the SSD) to Managed Masters (inside the Aperture LIbrary wherever it is, in this case on your system drive).

While I can assure you there is nothing untoward about what I've suggested, regular precautions should always be applied: back-up your photograph files prior to importing them into Aperture.  (Fwiw, I treat the original on my card(s) as my back-up, and never delete it until I have both imported my photograph files and backed them up.)



Thanks Kirby,

That sounds like a good plan and will save me exporting and importing files from/to libraries on the different drives.

Doing it that way though I guess will mean the adjustments will be stored on the mechanical drive where the main library resides and these will have to be written and read from there each time. I know such things are small when compared to the picture files but could this introduce delays when compared with reading and writing everything only from/to the SSD.

Anyway, I'll give it a try this way with the next batch I shoot, probably Wednesday night.




Well last night I shot a relatively small batch (only 50 or so, I was rained off) and imported them into Aperture using the method described above by Kirby. That is, I told Aperture to store the masters on my SSD rather than in the main library. I proceeded to work through them making adjustments and exported jpegs for my website and then consolidated the masters to the main Aperture library.

Maybe I'm imagining it but I don't think it felt quite as fast as my previous method when I created a project in a library on my SSD.

Also, the other thing I noticed which was peculiar was that after consolidating the masters it moved all the master files from the SSD to my main Aperture library apart from those for which I'd created another version (using alt-v in Aperture). For some reason the master files for these pictures remained on the SSD until I chose just these three on their own and selected the consolidate masters again. Has anyone else experienced this quirk?

I'll try it again with my next hopefully bigger batch of pictures to see what happens.


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