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dannygreer Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
Hi all.

I've got a brand new iMac and am running Aperture 3.

It seems to be taking forever to process adjustments on my images.

All of the images were shot RAW.

All of the files are managed by the Aperture library and the library resides on an external hard drive running USB 2.0.

Would it be faster if the external HD was connected via Firewire? Could it just be the computer/settings?

Thanks in advance!

macbook pro/imac
  • CorkyO2 Level 4 Level 4 (1,290 points)
    dannygreer wrote:

    Would it be faster if the external HD was connected via Firewire?

    With a managed library, you may well see better performance with Firewire 800.

    The most common set-up I have seen people recommend when using an external drive, is to run a 'Referenced' library on the internal drive with the Masters stored on the external drive.

    Note - make sure the external drive is formatted correctly per this link:

    Could it just be the computer/settings?

    Assuming your brand new iMac is a 2010 version with at least 4 GB RAM, you should be fine machine-wise.

    The main issue with Aperture is the read-write performance, which can take a hit on an external drive with a managed library.

    The idea with a Referenced library as configured above, is that the Masters get read once from the external drive and the library on the internal can do concurrent read-write operations more easily for better performance.
  • Wes W. Level 2 Level 2 (255 points)
    Managed or referenced library, I wouldn't put a working Aperture library an external USB 2.0 drive of any kind. If you must use external drives to store image data, you should use a managed library and keep the main Aperture library on the fast internal drive(s).

    If you're new to Aperture and have lots of internal storage space I recommend you start with a managed library on your internal drive(s). You can always move photos later, if necessary, and when you become more experienced with Aperture.

    Both Firewire 400 and 800 are faster (in real world use) than USB 1 and USB 2, but the newer USB 3 is pretty fast. Unfortunately, I don't think USB 3 is an option on the iMacs.
  • TheCipher Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
    Do images process ok from your internal hard drive, have you tried that yet? Just wondering, because I'm currently having the same issue.....

    Can't believe how slow this is.
  • Kirby Krieger Level 6 Level 6 (12,510 points)
    I've seen no slowdown running very large Libraries on large, fast, external drives connected by FW800. I don't think the Library needs to be on the system drive for good performance.

    I, too, wouldn't run either the Library or the Masters across a USB 2 connection.

    Starting w. a Library of Managed Masters is a good idea. Ending with either a Library of Referenced Masters, or a Library with mixed Managed and Referenced Masters is an even better idea.

    - Library on system drive if possible
    - Library on fastest drive available
    - Masters on any drive directly connected to computer
    - Only FW800 or equivalent throughput
  • Kirby Krieger Level 6 Level 6 (12,510 points)
    Depending on your files sizes and number of images, it can takes hours or days to complete the initial processing of any large import. Until the processing completes, Aperture performance will suffer.

    You can check processing in both the Aperture Activity window and in OS X's Activity Monitor. There is often processing going on which is not reported by either.

    My standard suggestion after any large import is to let Aperture run unmolested at least overnight.

    I did some major re-arranging of a Library with a quarter-million images and it took about five full days for Aperture to finish processing the changes.

    Once this processing is done, Aperture's performance is good.

    I also recommend turning off Faces and Sharing of Previews until the first long pass of processing is done. And don't ever force quit Aperture. If it has actually hung or crashed, you should get a report and it will restart. (I am pretty sure I haven't seen a crash since 3.1.)

    Of course, if your import processing is already done, you have a different set of problems.
  • dannygreer Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
    Thanks so much for the input! I'm going to try it over FW 800 and gauge performance.

    If it's still slow I'll move the library to the internal HD and put the masters (referenced) on the drive.

    Was hoping this wasn't going to be so complicated.

    Will report results here.
  • Kawanaut Level 1 Level 1 (50 points)

    How did it go?     I'm considering a similar setup as my Aperture 3 library is outgrowing my internal drive, so I'd probably want the library on internal drive and referenced files on the external FW800.


    dannygreer wrote:


    Thanks so much for the input! I'm going to try it over FW 800 and gauge performance.

    If it's still slow I'll move the library to the internal HD and put the masters (referenced) on the drive.

    Was hoping this wasn't going to be so complicated.

    Will report results here.
  • Kirby Krieger Level 6 Level 6 (12,510 points)

    It goes well.  A 5200 rpm disk with 8 MB cache works for Masters, but I wouldn't use anything less than 7200 with as big a cache as you can get for a Library.


    As long as you keep your Library on your system disk, you won't have any problems running Referenced Masters from a FW 800 external drive.  I do it all the time, with huge photo stores (1/2 TB).  This is another of the things Aperture does well.


    Fwiw, I also run some Libraries from FW 800 drives, also with no problems.  You will want the fastest FW 800 drive you can afford.  If your Library is on an external drive, I recommend using all Referenced Masters, and putting them on a separate drive (therefore two FW 800 drives: one for the Library, and one for the Masters).  This, too, works reasonably well for even huge Libraries/Photo stores.

  • Kawanaut Level 1 Level 1 (50 points)

    Thank you for your reply.


    My plan was to get a LaCie Rugged Safe 1TB drive with 128bit AES hardware encryption, and then run my masters on that but keep the library on my internal drive. Both my internal and the Lacie are 7200rpm drives.


    So hopefully that should work just fine.

  • snyth Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)

    Thanks for your info.


    I've been having hanging-forever problems w. A3 on an iMac 27 core duo w. 8G Ram & 1T drive. I have repaired permissions (machine and app), repaired library, held the shift key while turning on to stop the eternal "processing" button (this seems to have made the biggest difference - I don't know what it does or why it works), turned off Faces (right away), unclicked create previews.


    Is my configuration wrong? The whole library is on an external HD connected via Firewire 400 with a FW 800 adaptor -since the drives are 400 and the iMac only has one 800 slot. I have a vault on another drive and a second vault offsite, both FW 400.


    It appears many folks start w. their library on their main machine drive, then migrate the Managed Masters to an external drive. My library is already on an external drive. Should I be migrating the whole thing to my computer (190G library - not sure how to determine # of images) and then sending the masters back to a hard drive and setting up a referenced library? Or is its location not the cause of my problems?


    One othe question: if setting up a referenced library is the way to stop all my hanging/freezing problems which occur after I make a few adjustments to a few images, how then do I do backups? With the managed photos on a different drive, I understand updating vaults won't work (the library would be on the computer and would be backed up but not all the images), nor would time machine back it up (as it isn't now).


    And: would it work better if I split the library into 2 smaller ones? I get the idea that the library should be able to handle this number of images. It is on a 320G HD that is 1/3 empty.

  • Kirby Krieger Level 6 Level 6 (12,510 points)

    Hi "snyth".  You should have posted this a new thread -- you're much more likely to get more responses.


    FW400 is at best borderline (throughput) for an Aperture Library.  It will work, but is far enough from ideal that it is not otherwise recommended.


    If you have room on your system drive, I recommend putting your Library there.  That is, in fact, how you probably should have started  .


    Then, if you begin to run out of room, convert some or all of your Images' Masters from Managed to Referenced.


    As you point out, any Referenced Masters will have to be backed up separately from the Library.  (The Vault backs up only the Library.)  Figuring out the best way to do that varies by installation and available options, but is not hard to do.


    It is rarely helpful to split a Library.  You want to be able to do global searches.  (Imagine if a real Library took the books on each floor and moved them into separate buildings, each with their own card catalog.)


    It is -- as far as I know -- impossible to have too many Images.  I've used Libraries with almost half a million, on machines w. just 4 GB of RAM.  There are surprisingly few bottlenecks -- a testament to Aperture's architecture (and designers).


    Lastly, you shouldn't have the number of problems you are having.  Move (and consolidate, if necessary) your Library, get it to work, give it some time to settle down, and see what happens.  I have never experienced a downside to running "Repair Permissions" and "Repair Database" -- I recommend that you do that once you have moved you Library and created a new (and redundant -- save the back-up of your current set-up) back-up.


    Good luck.  Post back with questions, and with your results.


    Message was edited by: Kirby Krieger -- a few changes for clarity; link added.

  • snyth Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)

    Big thanks - for both the Aperture info and support community protocol.


    Just a quick update - looking at your info and recommendations, I realized something must be wrong, not just a normal glitch in the program or whatever. I suspected the culprit might be the external hard drive itself so tried to copy the library to my computer, without success. So right now it's in the shop with the date/library hopefully being loaded to another drive. Sure enough, they tell me the drive shuts down periodically during the data transfer - we'll see what I get out of it at the end and whether that solves the problem.


    Thanks again, it would have taken ages to sort this without your help.

  • Matthew Bergsma Level 3 Level 3 (600 points)

    Absolutely WITHOUT A DOUBT your library should never be on a usb2 drive. There is just too much small block random read and write operations the library does CONCURRENTLY and it will choke a usb2 drive.


    Sorry if it looks like I'm shouting - but yes this is a common issue with aperture, probably a "top 10" even.


    Do what Kirby says about storing your Images on the external drive, but store the "library" on your internal drive. You can setup your "import" dialog box to do this (store images on the external drive in a folder, and automatically create subfolders as needed).


    All that being said, a usb2 5400 RPM drive is JUST FINE if you are loading 20-30MB masters on it. Aperture does not need RAID level speeds for loading masters - it just needs SSD LEVEL speeds when dealing with the library/thumbnails/caches/etc.

  • snyth Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)

    Riiight!  Okay, I think I'm getting it. Basically I suppose I outsmarted myself back at Aperture v.1 by starting off with the library on the Firewire 400 drive, thinking right away it would be too big for the computer. Thanks Matthew for pointing out that all the adjustments, additions to metadata, etc. also have to fly back and forth to the external drive - but not if the library is on the computer. Now to get it on a new drive (fw 800 this time) - fingers crossed (yes, I have a vault... amost up to date), then onto the computer, then move the managed files back onto the external drive and use the referenced files system with the Library safely on the computer, then sort out backing up the managed files.


    Thanks again for having the patience to explain this for the millionth time, I'm sure.


    If this isn't another tediously FAQ - what do you recommend as the best way to back up the managed files (since the vault system and time machine won't work for the managed file folders, right). Manually?

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