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Best to keep AE project files & cache on external drives?

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Toby Groom
Best to keep AE project files & cache on external drives?
on Jul 26, 2019 at 10:52:10 am

Hi all,
I've been reading various blogs recently in the Never Ending Quest for After Effects optimisation. Regarding the best place to keep your AE project files and footage, not everyone agrees, but the general advice seems to be:

AE project files (aep) & Disk Cache on external drive
All video footage & media on internal drive

This seems like the best way to minimise bottlenecks with read/write processes. Do people agree?
Do most people work this way? And has anyone noticed big gains in AE from changing that external drive from spinning disk to SSD, or from USB3.0 to Thunderbolt? Many thanks in advance for any advice.


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Tomas Bumbulevičius
Re: Best to keep AE project files & cache on external drives?
on Jul 29, 2019 at 10:53:39 am

Hey Toby, I wonder what you actually mean by calling drives internal/external?

Do you call 'internal drive' as the main OS drive, or just literally, about their physical appearance in the hardware rig?

With that said, it would be interesting if you put specific article/reference, where it highlights the benefits among external drives? I never heard of that as a rule of thumb, and always thought all that matters, it to isolate different type of files into separate drives, and thats it.

As long as there is no simultaneous read/write requests from different assets, its treated as good optimisation in general.

Thanks!

Find out more:
After Effects Tutorials: motion design, expressions, scripting.
Boxer - Dynamic Text Boxes Template with a Live Preview


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Toby Groom
Re: Best to keep AE project files & cache on external drives?
on Jul 29, 2019 at 4:05:58 pm

Thanks for your reply Tomas.
Here's one example, in point 8: https://www.schoolofmotion.com/blog/cached-preview
"Instead it is recommended that you separate your disk cache and project files across two separate drives. I typically have my project files on an external SSD and my disk cache on my local storage."

By internal drive, yes, I mean the main OS drive. Based on the advice, I'm keeping all my project files/footage on the main/internal drive, and putting the cache on an external drive.
Now I need a replacement drive, and I'm wondering if the extra cost of going from HDD to SSD, and/or USB 3 to thunderbolt, is likely to be justified in terms of AE performance.


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Tomas Bumbulevičius
Re: Best to keep AE project files & cache on external drives?
on Jul 30, 2019 at 7:17:55 am

Ahaa, gotcha. The reason why I was a bit 'confused' about an external meaning, is whether it MUST be external by means.

On the other hand, the whole idea here is just to keep specific files (cache in this case) on a different drive, disregarding their 'physical' appearance.

With that said, for a cache, you will definitely see a difference with SSD over HDD. Take a look at this article, conclusions section: AE Disk Cache Performance


1. Use at least an SSD for your After Effects Disk Cache. Not only will you be able to finish writing to the
disk cache 2-3 times faster than if you were to use a platter drive, but you will also be able to play both
cached and uncached compositions significantly faster (anywhere from 15-30% on average)
2. Faster NVMe drives can give moderate performance gains in some situations. It certainly is not across the board,
but faster NVMe drives can allow you to finish writing to the disk cache up to ~20% faster
and may let you play uncached compositions a bit faster (~5%)


Now talking about USB 3.0 vs Thunderbolt - maybe someone has an objective opinion, as I haven't ran any comparisons myself, nor am familiar with both.

Find out more:
After Effects Tutorials: motion design, expressions, scripting.
Boxer - Dynamic Text Boxes Template with a Live Preview


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Toby Groom
Re: Best to keep AE project files & cache on external drives?
on Jul 30, 2019 at 9:24:02 am

That's exactly the kind of info I was looking for, many thanks Tomas! Clearly seems to be worth the investment.


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