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Thread: Is faster file copying possible?

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    swords's Avatar
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    Is faster file copying possible?

    Hey computer folks, I've been working at installing my huge synth bundle (around 300GB between 7 synths) and it's taking forever! Each program's sound library is about 30 GB and the installer usually craps out so most people drag and drop a few folders a day into the sound libraries (folders) once the program and file allocations on disk #1 install but it's so slow even this way! I have to dedicate at least a whole night to installing one program, so if I'm lucky and Buddha is smiling upon me, I can get one set installed in one night. Symphonic Choirs worked that way anyway. The Brass instrument disk for my orchestra is messed up so they're sending me a new one that should be here by noon...

    Anyway, my question is: Is there any way to make the computer put all its resources into the file transfer I have a quad core and basically nothing runs on this PC (just enough processes to keep it conscious) so shouldn't it be moving the files faster?


    As an aside, are the external Hard drives any good? Are they like Sata2 speed (7200 RPM)? Any recommendations on brand? I'd sure like to move all the huge sound libraries to a dedicated USB HD and NEVER have to sit through this again and only have to setup the actual program installation which only takes like 8 seconds.

  2. #2
    Let's positive thinking! seedjar's Avatar
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    The quad core (your processor) is doing virtually no work on making the installation happen. Copying files doesn't take computations - just disk access. Having a particularly fast processor doesn't do much of anything for disk-based input/output, since processors have pretty much always been orders of magnitude faster than drives (both hard drives and CD/DVD drives.) Since your RAM is probably already pretty big, the best way to speed things up is to get faster drives and/or drive controllers. It could also be that you're bumping up against your motherboard's bus speed, but I think that's unlikely.
    Disable or kill any processes that might be using your hard drive at the same time as the installer. This is usually hard to do, since your operating system is often on there, as well as your swap space. If Vista has an option for turning off virtual memory (hehe, seems unlikely somehow...) you could get some more disk time out of that. Also, it might be worth noting that unless you're hand-copying the files directly to the place they're supposed to go on the hard drive, it will be faster to just install from the application disk (theoretically.)
    On the bright side, you can do pretty much any lightweight task that doesn't use the drives intensively without worrying about slowing the installer down significantly. Web browsers, word processors, etc. should all be fine. Avoid stuff that hogs the processor a lot, especially stuff that manages to use more than one core at a time. The installer spends most of its time waiting for the disks, but the processor can still become a bottleneck if you bog it down with something else.
    ~Joe
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    swords's Avatar
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    Theoretically is the operative word here!

    CPU usage is generally at 0% then jumps to 15 then 5 then 0. WHen the installer is running it goes up to 20-25% and files fly by but as I say, it seems to crap out on just about everyone. If you check out the soundsonline forum (forum for this software) most people end up manually installing the libraries the way I am cos the installer eventually just quits. I can't imagine the people who sit through the installation of the 33 disk platinum orchestra! 6 was bad enough! The company now sells "diamond editon" of their hollywood strings library already on a HD you just install the program itself and point the library directory to the external drive. They only charge like $1000 extra for that though...

    My HDs are 7200 RPM sata and the DVD is 48X I believe.

    Can I get faster drives that are external and USB connectible? Like a really fast dual layer DVD reader and a really fast external drive? Is that possible? Any advice on what I should look for in faster drives? I'd pay it just to be able to get things moving along and start playing (esp. considering what I paid for the damn software bundle). The software runs good once you figure out what goes where with the "virtual midi cables" that link one program to another but it's just getting the enormous libraries onto the drive.

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    Hello, I must be going... Not a Number's Avatar
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    USB is a speed bottleneck. You want an eSATA II or Firewire drive if you're going to use an external drive, provided your motherboard supports these (connectors). If not you have to buy a card.

    Having drives attached as primary and secondary can slow transfers down. Attach them all as primary if possible.

    USB 2.0 has a transfer rate of 480 Mbits/s (60 MBytes/s) vs eSATA II 3 Gbits/s (384 MBytes/s)

    Firewire transfer rate 400 Mbits/s - however Firewire uses a peer-to-peer architecture vs USBs master/slave architecture which in reality leads to faster transfers.
    http://www.cwol.com/firewire/firewire-vs-usb.htm

    Of course there is SATA 3 (6 Gbits/s), Firewire 800, Firewire 3200, and USB 3.0 (5 Gbits/s). There is also Serial Attached SCSI (SAS). You'd have to buy a card for any of these (some are not available yet). SAS drives cost 1.5x-3x as much as SATA drives and the controller card will probably set you back for at least $200.

    File operations do consume CPU usage. Any disk benchmark program worth its weight in salt will report CPU usage. USB and Firewire consume the most - traditionally SCSI uses the least (that's one of the reasons why it is so expensive, lower error rates is another).

    The New Technology File System (NTFS) that Microsoft uses has always been somewhat slow. IBMs High Performance File System (HPFS) used in OS/2 was faster. Unix file systems are much faster yet. And as I recall over complaints of the number of times dirty shut-downs occurred with Windows 2000 (resulting in disc scans at startup) Microsoft erred to much too side of caution and slowed down the file writes and shutdown in XP. This was tweaked in service packs.

    This might help:
    Improve NTFS performance

    You could also try setting the processor affinity, though I doubt it would help much.
    Grand Hotel... always the same. People come, people go. Nothing ever happens.

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    swords's Avatar
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    Thanks Nan, I've seen the eSataII externals, but I think even these are only 5200RPM I do have one firewire port and have never used it for anything.

    When you say attached as primary you mean installed internally correct? I was really hoping to avoid that! lol

    What would be neat is a seperate PC case full of smaller drives and a few big honking fans that I could hide under my desk and somehow run up to the case with the motherboard and all.

    In regards to a faster Dual Layer DVD Rom reader is USB OK for use here? I don't know how fast mine reads DVD roms (It's about 3-4 years old now) but most of the available new ones seem to read DVD roms at 8x.

  6. #6
    Let's positive thinking! seedjar's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Not a Number View Post
    File operations do consume CPU usage. Any disk benchmark program worth its weight in salt will report CPU usage.
    Well, yeah, but mostly in the sense that almost everything the computer does takes some CPU time. The install program has to be interpreted, but most of its actual "work" in terms of real execution time is happening on the disks - it's not like the process spends time waiting on the CPU. (Compare to... I dunno... BLAST? Compilers? Photoshop when the files don't exceed the size of active memory?) My point was that it was highly unlikely that the processor was the bottleneck.

    Quote Originally Posted by swords View Post
    When you say attached as primary you mean installed internally correct? I was really hoping to avoid that! lol
    I'm not sure I've ever come across those terms. Perhaps it refers to master/slave settings? Haha - looks like I guessed right.
    As for the USB DVD drive, check to make sure that it's USB 2.0. It will probably be slower than your internal optical drive anyways, but if it isn't USB 2.0 then it will likely be unacceptably slower. But you might try it just to find out - it sounds like this process is slow enough that a delay for a little experiment would be a drop in the bucket.
    ~Joe
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    swords's Avatar
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    Really? You think a new DVD drive could actually be slower than the one already onboard even if the drive claims to read at 8x for DVD Roms? I definitely don't wanna pay more to do this any slower! lol

    Got my replacement Brass collection but once again it crapped out at 50% right on the crescendo sample in the solo trumpet folder same as the earlier disk...

    I am currently able to drag/drop the files again however, so that's where I'm at.

  8. #8
    Let's positive thinking! seedjar's Avatar
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    I thought you said it was three or four years old. I'm mostly suspicious of the connection you'll be using for it. If it were Firewire 800, or eSATA, I'd have more confidence, but USB isn't really ideal for high-performance uses.
    This whole thing is on dual-layer DVDs? Can you get them on smaller ones? Conventional DVD drives are cheaper and typically faster than dual-layer drives.

    Quote Originally Posted by swords View Post
    What would be neat is a seperate PC case full of smaller drives and a few big honking fans that I could hide under my desk and somehow run up to the case with the motherboard and all.
    They make those - probably won't solve your problem though.
    ~Joe
    o//~ Livin' like a bug ain't easy / My old clothes don't seem to fit me /
    I got little tiny bug feet / I don't really know what bugs eat /
    Don't want no one steppin' on me / Now I'm sympathizin' with fleas /
    Livin' like a bug ain't easy / Livin' like a bug ain't easy... o//~

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