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Highly erractic import speed (minutes to hours for same size)

1717 Views 21 Replies Latest reply: Jun 5, 2012 6:34 PM by William Paplham RSS
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William Paplham Calculating status...
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May 15, 2012 7:30 AM

I just started using Aperture and I'm using a new camera (Canon 60D)


When I do an import the rate and responsiveness of Aperture vary widely. I'm shooting sporting events and my typical import is about 22-25GB (800 photos).


Sometimes this takes 30-45 minutes, and the computer is fairly responsive. Other times this balloons to hours. Right now I have an import that is >12 hours in with only about a third of the photos imported. What seems odd is that it's either done in minutes, or it will be 7 hours plus, nothing in between. Speed seems to be "set" at the start of the import. Not sure that I've noticed it ramping up or down much during the import.


I've had some cases where memory was an issue (Aperature >6 GB real RAM), but most of the time Aperature is under 2 GB RAM, processors are mostly idle and the drive activity looks more like short spikes of activity rather than a stready stream. Read/write speeds get down into the kb/sec range.


When import is slow, Aperature is almost completely nonresponsive. If I let it go long enough it eventually finishes, but this just doesn't seem right for a professional program. Some other applications also significantly slow down, whereas I can use others without an issue.


I'm using a card reader plugged directly into a front port on the Mac Pro.


I'm importing RAW files only, so about 25 MB per file.


I'm still learning both Aperture and the camera, so maybe it's something simple.

Mac Pro, Mac OS X (10.7.4), (Early 2008) 10 GB RAM
  • Ernie Stamper Level 8 Level 8 (37,455 points)

    Have you checked the Activity Monitor for memory allocation and usage?  Specifically, have you watched the allocation of RAM to Inactive?



  • Ernie Stamper Level 8 Level 8 (37,455 points)

    This looks exactly like something I have witnessed, but not everytime.  It appears to me that the OS will not surrender memory that has been used by Aperture on successive images, but rather keeps it as Inactive.  So despite there being only 61 MB of Free, it protects the 3.9 GB in Inactive in case Aperture might want to reopen some of the files already processed.  I have seen this rarely during Import, but I have seen it.  It is more often seen during sessions of adjusting numerous images, and has been particularly pronounced with the very large image files from my Nikon D800.


    I am told that OSX is the keeper of this memory allocation, and that it probably is not really Aperture, but I am not yet convinced.


    You might try opening another intensive app, such as Photoshop or a video editor, and then quickly shut it back down.  That might trigger a reallocation of the Inactive, but can't fully predict.


    You could stop the Import, Quit Aperture, Restart the Mac, and relaunch Aperture -- it should remember which images have not yet been downloaded, and pick back up where it left off.



  • PhotoMacGuy Level 1 Level 1 (80 points)

    I have had a similar issue twice. Once I found when I upgraded my camera my card reader became almost unusable because it was so slow. New card reader fixed back. The other time was the card reader was plugged into a USB hub and that made for painfully slow uploads from the card.

    Just some possibilities to check good luck.

  • PhotoMacGuy Level 1 Level 1 (80 points)

    Maybe I missed something in your earlier posts but I don't see where you have done any Aperture maintenance or system maintenance. That would actually be where I would start. Repair permissions on the operating system and also on aperture. For aperture remember hold down command and option when launching the program and it will give you the repair options for aperture. I would start with repair permissions then repaired database and if that doesn't help prepare library. I've got to say that when I did repair disk on my system even though there was no reported problems things seem to run better.

    Just some thoughts,


  • SierraDragon Level 4 Level 4 (2,665 points)

    • How are you connected? USB 2 will do what you describe because it is a very poor way to move batch data. Other devices on the bus can often slow transfer rates dramatically.


    • I can  overload 8 GB RAM with my Aperture/Photoshop workflow (2011 SSD MBP). Regarding RAM usage ignore all the cutesy graphics telling what "free RAM," etc. allegedly are.


    Instead manually check page outs:


    You can evaluate whether or not you have adequate RAM by looking at the Page Outs number under System Memory on the Activity Monitor app before starting a typical work session; recheck after working and if the page outs change (manual calculation of ending page outs number minus starting page outs number) is not zero your workflow is RAM-starved. Ignore page ins, the pie charts and other info in Activity Monitor.


    If your test shows that page outs increase at all during operation it is affecting performance. You can


    • add RAM as feasible


    • restart with some frequency if you suspect memory leaks (common especially with less-than-top-quality applications)


    • and/or simply try to run only one app at a time, for sure diligently closing unneeded apps like browsers


    • and/or switch 64-bit operation to 32-bit operation (which will make some additional RAM space available). Note that your Mac may already default to 32-bit. See Switching Kernels:



    Note that RAM is cheap and heavy apps' usage of more RAM is a good thing. Photoshop for instance has been able to under OS X take advantage of up to at least 32 GB RAM for years.




    -Allen Wicks

  • Ernie Stamper Level 8 Level 8 (37,455 points)



    When this has happened to me during Import (rare as I said) it has been with a Firewire 800 card reader.


    I don't think the graphics showing build up of Inactive memory can be ignored, as it has been a far superior indicator of where the trouble lies with other major sluggishness while using Aperture, even without pageins, pageouts.



  • PhotoMacGuy Level 1 Level 1 (80 points)

    I used to use a FireWire 800 card reader but had almost your exact problem. I totally forgot about it Intel you mentioned it. I went over to a USB 2 UDMA card reader and everything flies.

  • Ernie Stamper Level 8 Level 8 (37,455 points)

    Normally the FW reader flies, especially with the Sandisk Extreme card I bought for my D800, as do the Lexar UDMA cards.  However, the Sandisk Extreme, 32 GB SCHD card really flies in a simple Promaster USB drive I use with it whenever importing stills.  But I mainly use the SC card for the video I shoot on the D800, and the CF card for the stills.  Video is never quick, but so far has not impacted memory usage.  For that, it appears the succession of many separate files is key.


    The Firewire bus can easily become corrupt, and thus I never leave FW drives attached unless they are really in use.



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