Sure. Many people have. OWC will even do it for you. You can swap out the HDD....install an SSD...particularly on models older than the current 2012 which is particularly hard to upgrade. I don't know what is causing the slowdown for you but I, along with many people, have all of our video storage on external drives connected by Firewire and no problem. If you have complex multicam work you may need a RAID option, but FW800 is plenty fast for typical video work. I'm not sure about FW400 and HD but FW800 is perfectly capable of transferring data fast enough. If it's video you are using you may need to transcode AVCHD to ProRes.
I do not use a RAID array, but as hard drives full up with data, the access times can slow down.
My primary storage is an external 2TB LaCie drive and I do a lot of Photoshop, Blender and short video work where I am transferring data between internal and external drives while I am working.
I have the same iMac models as you and I don't experience any delay or slowdowns with using an external drive.
My only issue I have is video and 3D image rendering take time as I only have a 3.06 Ghz core2duo CPU and 256 MBs VRAM GPU.
Other than this limitation my 2009, 27 inch screen iMac runs great!
FW800 is plenty faster enough for video processing it should be plent as fast for image processing, too!
Your issue lies elsewhere.
If your RAID drives are getting full, this could be a factor.
Also, how much RAM does your iMac have?
My iMac is maxed with 16 GBs of RAM.
Also, I am still running on OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard as both OS X Lion and OS X Mountain Lion just eat up too much CPU, GPU, RAM and hard drive resources. OS X Mountain Lion is especially hard on RAM and GPU resources.
Well certainly you can upgrade the drive to one that has a larger capacity. I would think many people have done that.
But why, with a 1TB internal drive, did you move your images off the internal drive. Move other things. If most of that drive is filled with images you can move older images off the internal and still have them included in the LR library.
I wouldn't think you need all your images on the internal and as far as the actual LR library/catalog that doesn't take up much space. I have over 22 thousand images, main RAW image files and PS PSD files, in my LR catalog and it takes up about 3GBs of space.
I want the photos in one location called "Lightroom Master".
When I was still using Aperture, I had split my photos into mulitple libraries but this became inconvenient when I wanted to make an album of images from multiple libraries.
Your are dead right though, the Lightroom Master folder is "only" 422.17 GB, when I thought it was over 700 GB.
I think I just prefer all the data/media files (which includes iTunes movies) to be in one location and I know there will be more home movies in the pipeline when soon... but the slow file transfer is no fun.
I don't even know what "Pro Res" is.
Yeah, I think the Firewire cable came from Hong Kong via eBay. Will get one from an Apple store this time, which probably still came from Honk Kong or "the mainland", but there may be better quality control.
I should probably still consider increasing internal HDD capacity. Can throw the old 1TB HDD in the dRobo... maybe... if the dRobo is worth keeping.
Thanks heaps for the comments and suggestions.
I'll go shopping in a minute.
Well you and I have two different methods of saving image files. I save mine to folders by year then subfolders by date, day month.
I personally would never store all my images in one folder. All my year folders and the subfolders are all in mt LR catalog. The images don't all need to be in one folder or on one hard drive. They can be placed anywhere you like and imported to the LR catalog. Recent files on the internal and older one that you have already worked on, like years ago, placed on a external drive.
Where are you located?
You can buy better quality FireWire cables other than Apple. I find Apple's own cables to be cheaply made.
There are better quality USB and FW cables that can be purchased.
Do a search.
Forget about increasing the internal storage size of your HDD. You need to see if your bottleneck is, in fact, a bad FW cable or something with your RAID array.
You still haven't answered any of my questions.
How many drives do you have on your RAID array?
And how full are they?
Drives can fail. If the problem isn't a bad cable, You need to test to see if any of the drives on your RAID may be failing.
That can be causing issues, also.
>>>I personally would never store all my images in one folder. All my year folders and the subfolders are all in mt LR catalog.<<<
Yeah, I have year subdirectories within the "Lightroom Master" directory:
...and more specific dates within the year...
I think people may normally add a project/event name to the above dates as a reminder of what occured during a selected date range.
>>>The images don't all need to be in one folder or on one hard drive. They can be placed anywhere you like and imported to the LR catalog.<<<
I would have thought keeping the files in one location makes them easier to locate and manage... unless there is a hardware issue like a crappy dRobo or Firewire cable... or both.
Scott Bourne - an advanced Aperture user who recently moved to Lightroom - advises here:
"You can leave..." your photos "...on the hard disk in your computer where you run LR but you will soon run out of space so I suggest an external drive. I am using a 12 TB drive so I’ll have plenty of space. Then create a master folder on that drive. It can be called “photos” or “Lightroom Master” or whatever you like. But create that folder because that is where all your images will eventually end up. HINT: Whatever strategy you decide now – be sure it’s sound. It will be a big pain in the you know what to change this later so pick a strategy and stick with it."
Two other Lynda tutorials I looked at have advised similar.
>>>Recent files on the internal and older one that you have already worked on, like years ago, placed on a external drive.<<<
Yes, we do things differently. If I can get the hardware working properly, then I'll be happy.
>>>Where are you located?<<<
>>>You can buy better quality FireWire cables other than Apple. I find Apple's own cables to be cheaply made.<<<
Okidoki, I'm listening and thanks for the tip.
>>>Forget about increasing the internal storage size of your HDD. You need to see if your bottleneck is, in fact, a bad FW cable or something with your RAID array.<<<
So I suppose the need for a new cable is the first step. Maybe they sold me a FW400 cable instead of the FW800 I requested.
>>>You still haven't answered any of my questions.<<<
Sorry, Looks like I missed them.
>>>How many drives do you have on your RAID array?<<<
Three 2TB Seagate HDDs.
>>>And how full are they?<<<
Drobo Dashboard says "2.03 TB Used Space 57%" with 1.54 TM Free Space (43%).
>>>Drives can fail. If the problem isn't a bad cable, You need to test to see if any of the drives on your RAID may be failing.<<<
At the moment Drobo Dashboard indicates the system is healthy and has sufficient capacity but a second opinion would be nice. The trouble with the dRobo is it seems to manage itself and I am not aware of third party software that can get in an have a look at it. If the new Firewire cable does not help and the issue is not my iMac's Firewire interface then maybe I should get a 4GB external something else that hopefully has FW800, Thunderbold and USB3 connectivity.