Photography Workflow on Linux – Hardware upgrade ?

Next step you can consider is a hardware upgrade.
If you have a reasonably new computer ( less than two years ) you can skip this article.
There is no way to give a clear and full proof explanation of the following, but I can give you an idea of the possibilities.
If you talk hardware, then there are three main components to a computer : motherboard, hard disk(s) and memory.
Replacing a motherboard is not for computer novices, and in most cases it will also be so expensive that it would be better to buy a new computer. That leaves us with disks and memory.
Memory is the hardest to explain, because upgrading memory, and really having benefit from it depends mostly on the age of the motherboard – more specific the fact of can it technically run more memory than the installed ?
When it’s a computer of around 5 to 7 years old, running Windows Vista or Seven with 2 GB of memory, then it probably can be upgraded and run faster.
When having 4 GB in the same computer, I don’t think you will benefit much from a memory upgrade.
If the computer runs Windows XP and/or is older than 5 to 7 years old, I would choose only to replace the operating system with a less memory consuming system like Lububtu.
Then there are hard disks.
Same, always check if it is technically possible, certainly when you consider upgrade to SSD disks.
SSD disks can do wonders to a 5 to 7 year old computer.
This is also the best category for an upgrade to SSD disks,
But unfortunately they are expensive – as we speak especially from 500 GB and up.

I found a Crucial BX200, 240 GB SSD for € 68, while a Crucial BX200, 480 GB SSD costs € 125, and a Crucial BX200, 960 GB SSD costs € 250.
The same capacity in Samsung : Samsung 850 EVO, 250 GB SSD costs € 85, a Samsung 850 EVO, 500 GB SSD costs € 150, a Samsung 850 EVO, 1 TB SSD costs € 300
Then in normal hard disks, a Western Digital Blue, 1 TB Hard disk costs € 50, HGST Travelstar 7K1000, 1 TB Hard disk € 65 and a Seagate Surveillance HDD, 1 TB Hard disk € 60.
The best way ( and also what I did ) is to invest in two disks,
One SSD big enough to hold OS and enough room for data ( in my case pictures ) to work on, and to hold data for a short period. I would say 125 to 256 GB max, but less is perfectly possible. The smaller they are the cheaper they get.
All depends on how many room you need to work on, and to store data for a short period.
Then a second normal hard drive – internal or external ( unless you can reuse or already have one ) of 500 to 1000 GB preferably 7400 rpm for archiving purposes.
This kind of drive can cost two to four times less than an SSD of the same size !
In addition you could also add an external drive for backup.
My own portable had two normal hard disks of 500 GB 7400 rpm build in ( which is unusual)
I replaced them with one SSD of 240 GB for the OS and one hard disk of 1 TB 7400 rpm, the SSD is running Xubuntu with 4 GB of RAM and it fly’s ! And when I start the LXDE desktop which I also installed, it pumps an additional 100 to 250 MB and that fire’s the thrusters 🙂
Yes, even small amounts of memory gain can make a big difference to performance, when working on RAW or 100 MB Tiff’s in RawTherapee and/or Gimp.
So choosing the right OS is of high importance.
This is the most economical and giving the best performance upgrade you can do.

Tip : I placed the old hard disk, holding the previous OS ( which was already Ubuntu in my case ) in a external USB case.
Now, when I connect it and boot my portable, press F12, choose “boot from USB” it starts Ubuntu instead of my fresh installed Xubuntu on SSD.
Even with USB 2.0 this works almost as fast as if the disk was installed.
Knowing this, it opens new possibilities to experiment !

Booting Ubuntu from attached USB case with hard disk in it.

Booting Ubuntu from attached USB case with hard disk in it.

I combined the Crucial BX200, 240 GB SSD for € 68 with the HGST Travelstar 7K1000, 1 TB Hard disk for € 65, so i paid € 133 for 1240 GB of storage while one SSD of 1 TB costs more than double the price.

Further more you might need a 2.5″ USB case for the old drive, so you can use it to restore data to the new installation – I paid € 11 for a cheap one : Sharkoon QuickStore portable 2,5″, External housing

Pictures :

Dell Studio 1749 - Backplate

Dell Studio 1749 - Old hard disks 2 x 500 GB

HGST 1 TB 7200 rpm

Crucial BX200, 240 GB SSD

Dell Studio 1749 - Preparing the new disks

Dell Studio 1749 - Mounting the new disks

Dell Studio 1749 Upgraded to 1240 GB

Next article is software for photography workflow.

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