The Big the Fast and the SCSI - Match the Drive to the Application

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Match the drive(s) to the Application
The trick of course is to buy the drive that is best for your applications. If you work in a two track editing environment, for example editing short radio spots, then an older 486, Pentium or 68040 Mac system can still get the job done. In this case a new drive won't yield much better performance but rather add capacity. If you own a newer system and frequently work on complex multitrack projects your hard drive strategy can make a big difference in your systems performance.

The hard drive market is extremely competitive and prices have come down dramatically in the last two years. So there is no reason not to invest in the fastest 7,200RPM or 10,000RPM drive you can afford. 7,200RPM drives come in both Ultra DMA 66/100 and the various flavors of SCSI. The fastest 10,000RPM drives, such as the Seagate Cheetah, come only in SCSI versions. The slower 5400 RPM drives are fine for general purpose PCs and even for storage. But in a professional environment where time is money you want data input and output to be as fast as possible. I recommend drives from IBM, Maxtor, Quantum and Seagate. I've installed and tested drives from these suppliers in a variety of systems. Any of these suppliers are safe bets in the 72000RPM at faster range. Also aureal density, basically how much data can be crammed into a given amount of space on a disk platter, has increased for all drives over time which means more data can be accessed faster per each rotation of the disk. All this means more tracks and faster access in a multitrack audio/video environment.

If you are experienced with tinkering inside your computer you can buy the bare OEM version of the drive. This is essentially the drive with no software utility for installation and no extra mounting brackets. Retail versions of hard drives will cost a little more, come in a box and include the software to help you install the drive. If you are upgrading your system with a new drive to replace your current drive, retail boxed drives are a good idea because they will make copying your current operating system, programs and data much easier. You won't have to reinstall everything. However, while convenient, that's probably not the best approach to take. I recommend backing up your data, installing your new drive and doing a fresh installation of your operating system and programs. If your system is older than a Pentium II or G3 you may be better off putting it to rest and starting fresh. Unfortunately there are no easy answers and it ultimately comes down to your application and budget.

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