Video Editing Computer Hard Drive:
In Video Editing... There Is the Need for Speed!

Video editing computer hard drive

If transfer or storage of data bogs down at the video editing computer hard drive...You won’t experience the full power of your system no matter how much processing power you’re packing...!

Let's take a look at this vital component of your editing computer…!


While sometimes overlooked... The video editing computer hard drive plays an important role in the system’s overall capacity and performance which can be vital in ensuring a smooth-running, glitch-free video editing experience.

Hard drives differ greatly in capacity and performance. Over the last several years advancements in technology have pushed the envelope in these two areas and video editors in particular have benefited. An understanding of each will help you choose the best hard drive for your video editing computer.

The Very Basics… How Computer Hard Drive Works…

How a hard drive works

You’ve seen how a record spins on a record player... Well...that's happening in your hard drive too!

  • There is a "disk"... A thin round metallic platter of magnetic material that is spinning really fast on a spindle.
  • There is also an arm with a little reader on it that moves across the disk just like a record player arm. It's called a "actuator arm" and the reader on it reads/writes the data to and from the disk.

The faster the disk spins the faster the arm is able to seek out and or copy (read/write) data to or from the disk. So... the higher the Revolutions Per Minute, or "RPM", the faster the read/write speed of the hard drive.

VideoEditingSage Hard Drive Tip #1

* For the video editing computer hard drive... The faster the rpm of your hard drive the better. These days… 7200 RPM is the norm and for video editing...  if you have a hard drive that spins at 10,000 RPM (such as a WD Raptor hard drive) the better off you are!

Hard Drive Interfaces… EIDE and SATA…

SATA connector

EIDE Drives:

The EIDE (Enhanced Integrated Drive Electronics) specification was set forth by the Western Digital Corporation in 1986 as a successor to the AT drive interface. 

EIDE uses a 40-pin male connector on the drive itself that is connected to a 40 or 80 wire ribbon cable... This cable connects to an EIDE interface on the system's motherboard that is capable of supporting two devices per channel. EIDE is capable of transfer speeds ranging from 16 MB/s to 133 MB/s. 

SATA Drives:

The SATA (Serial ATA) specification was released in 2003 as a successor to the EIDE interface for hard drives and optical drives.

The SATA hard drive interface consists of a seven-pin data cable which connects the drive to the system motherboard.

SATA hard drives are capable of transfer speeds of 1.5, 3.0 and 6.0 Gbit/s. With 6.0 Gbit/s being pretty much the norm these days even with the larger drives. The SATA specification allows for "Hot Swapping". Hot swapping enables drives, under specific hardware configurations, to be removed and installed into a system without the need for a system shutdown.

A Hard Drives Cache Buffer Size Can Make a Huge Performance Difference!

Hard Drive Cache Buffer

In much the same way that RAM is essential in providing lightning-fast access to commonly used CPU data... Hard drives use a cache buffer system (embedded memory in the hard drive) to speed up the data transfer performance of the drive.

Hard drives typically offer 16 MB or 32 MB of cache buffer. Higher-end computer systems usually provide a 32 MB buffer. For maximum data processing... Hard drive manufacturers offer drives with up to 64 MB of cache as is the case with the newer large terabyte hard drives.

Note: The differences in cache size greatly effect the time it takes to locate a file on the video editing computer hard drive and feed its data to you.

Here Is a Little Tip...

Be sure to keep your video editing computer hard drive disk defragmented or you will see a drop off in data access speed as your hard drive will have to "hunt" for the files you request.

If you don't need a lot of speed you probably can tolerate the  difference easily but... For video editing you need all the speed you can get! Trust me… As a video editor you love...

  • Big caches
  • Fast hard drive rotational speeds
  • RAID 0 arrays, etc...

Anything that gives you any tiny margin of improved performance in your video editing computer!

A larger cache is really a great help with quick access to large sequential blocks of files… But less help if your operating system has to jump around all over the disk looking for files that have been stored as fragments in various places on the disk and not in sequential blocks.

Video Editing Computer Hard Drive Storage Capacity… Gigabytes and Terabytes…

Hard Drive Storage Capacity

The data capacity of a hard drive is measured in "bytes" and one billion bytes is a "Gigabyte" or "GB" for short. 1000 GB is just a short way of saying "1000 billion byte hard drive."

The more space available on the disk the better, and the more expensive the drive generally is. Over the last decade, the storage capacity for standard 3.5-inch hard drives has grown by orders of magnitude unimagined by the early hard drive manufacturers... And... in the past few years alone…

The computer industry experienced another leap in hard drive capacity with the introduction of the terabyte storage capacity hard drives. A Terabyte is approximately one trillion bytes, or 1,000 Gigabytes...

The TB (Terabyte) hard drive has quickly established a new standard in storage capacity in the video editing computer with even bigger drives on the way.

VideoEditingSage Hard Drive Tip #2

* Hard drive manufacturers have now made cheap, efficient and high-capacity hard drive storage available to everyone and for the video editor this is a happy circumstance, because as we know, video files can be huge!


Which Hard Drive Should You Get for Video Editing?

Western Digital Raptor hard drive

Choosing the best drive for your computer is a decision that is based on how you use your computer. The key question is...

* Do you use it for everything  or just video editing?

In digital video editing you want to have fast access to the video editing computer's operating system (OS) and... You want your video editing software program to have fast access to the data it needs.... So... if you are doing a lot of video editing... Which always calls for...

  • Frequent file seeking
  • Rendering
  • Importing and
  • Exporting large files, etc.

Then go for the fastest RPM or "spindle speed" you can find. A 10,000 RPM drive would be best!

If you use your video editing computer for everything  and you are storing a lot of video that you are not currently editing, along with other large files such as...

  • Word docs
  • Office programs
  • Pictures
  • MP3 audio files
  • Graphics, etc....

I would say a big SATA hard drive is your best choice. The big SATA drives will provide you with plenty of storage space and are fast enough (7200 RPM) these days to keep up with your video editing requirements as long as you're not producing involved videos with lots of special effects.

VideoEditingSage Hard Drive Tip #3

* High Definition, frame-intensive video editing action will require faster, more reliable equipment as video editing software becomes even more powerful in the future. 

As always those video editors who go beyond the obvious and look to maximize all the components of their video editing computer will obtain a real edge!

And that, of course, includes maximizing their video editing computer hard drive performance...!!

Have fun...!  Dan (Editor)

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