Swap file drive. Write cache or write through?

Posted By
Nov 30, 2006
I may easily have the terms wrong, but I hope what I mean comes through.

New computer. As of last night with a SATA Barracuda 400 gig drive for pictures with a 50 gig partition for Photoshop to use for it’s swap file.

Should I set this drive to wait & write when it feels like it (write behind/cache/?) or to write at once as if it were removeable media?

Win-XP-Home, 1 gig chip memory (until budget lets me double it), Photoshop CS.

Last night I was working with a file that, counting all layers, was reported as being over 800 mB so the best setting is needed information.

Thank you,


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Nov 30, 2006
For improved performance, set it to Write Cache. Otherwise you’ll see no benefit in having a cache. The rule-of-thumb is that the cache should be disabled if the information is critical, otherwise, use the cache. And the Photoshop swap file contains temporary data.

John Gregson
Nov 30, 2006
My own experience suggests that partitions are less effective than platters.

In other words separate hard drives perform better than a partitioned single drive.

There are ways to work with the system you have.

Optimal, in my opinion, is four separate platters as that seems to be the norm that motherboards support.

The limitation is not trivial.

So, rather that one drive with four partitions I much prefer four drives with no partitions.

What drives you go for is your own preference but I believe that Seagate Barracudas are neat with supporting technologies from their website.

Should one be offered the option of on disk cache it seems that the more = the merrier.

Under XP Pro good management of virtual memory seems essential, under Vista it seems to be OS delegated.

drive 1 – OS and programs

drive 2 – user data

drive 3 and drive 4 a combination of PS scratch with Windows VM all depends upon the RAM available.

Empirical observations only.

See, try, explore and devise within the system you are using seems the most important paradigm.
Nov 30, 2006
Definitely cache — we get a big speed boost when the OS caches scratch data in unused RAM, and measurable benefit from having large on-disk caches.
Dec 1, 2006
Thank you all. I will leave the write-behind turned on. I should have been clearer so late….

CPU-AMD 64 dual core at a nothing fancy 2,000 mHz.

HD:0 – System, Win-swapfile, and programs- a Western Digital SATA 250 gig.

HD:1 – Partition-1 RAW & worked up picture files
Partition-2 Photoshop swap file

I can say that the second drive made quite a noticeable difference. I was expecting that as I have my older machine set up with the Photoshop swap file set to a non-system drive. I wanted to get the maximum boost.

Thank you again.


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