Tiger hard drive recommendation and CCC question


Hi all,

This is my first ever post, so I apoligize if I violate some etiquette rules. I promise I do so without malice. ::ha:: :)

So here's the deal, I have a non-stock Digital Audio G4 (I've included the full specs below) with a 160 GB Maxtor SATA (#6Y160M0) and a 60 GB ATA Maxtor with 8 MB buffer (#6Y060P0). I was thinking of doing a clean install of Tiger on one of these hard drives, and was wondering which one to install it on.

Up until recently I thought it was going to be a no-brainer to install it on the SATA drive. However, I recently have the suspicion that running the OS on the ATA might be faster. How you ask might I have such a foolish thought? Well, currently I'm running Panther on the SATA drive and before I went ahead and jumped into Tiger, I thought to CCC my current system to the ATA drive.

As a quick check, I booted on the ATA to make sure all was well. Not only was everything okay, I noticed starting apps to be MUCH FASTER. I couldn't quantify it exactly, but everything popped open almost instantaneously. Just to check I went back to my SATA and verified the sluggishness.

So here are my questions. Sorry for asking so many, but I figured it's much easier to ask all at once. Or is it (etiquette wise)?

How is the ATA so much faster than the SATA? Is it a result of the CCC process? I had the thought that maybe CCC is like a great way to defrag your hard drive. Am I totally mistaken in this thought? Or is my original suspicion to install Tiger on the SATA correct? Could running the OS actually be faster on the ATA drive? Is this an effect of the hard drive being smaller and/or the SATA drive being driven by the SeriTek PCI card? I've xbenched both hard drives, and the benchmarks do show the SATA drive being faster, so I'm a little perplexed at what's going on.

Oh, I guess I should state what I use my computer for. I'm a grad student and I work with a fairly large number of images from my experiments. I don't believe I do the types of things that many graphic designers deal with, but I do view them and process them in MATLAB. I also do the occasional 'backup' of movies. I don't know if my application warrents consideration in this process.

Here are my full hardware specs in case someone is wondering:

G4 Digital Audio
Sonnet Tech 1.67 Ghz Encore/ST
SeriTek SATA controller, IOGEAR 5 port USB card
Hopefully a SIIG 1394b card soon if Tiger fixes that damn deep sleep issue.
ATI Radeon 9000
Maxtor 20 GB ATA (#92049U3)
Maxtor 60 GB ATA (6Y060P0)
Maxtor 160 SATA (6Y160M0)

Thanks for all your help.
You CCC's ATA harddrive was probably defragmented nicely when you copied everything over. Disk drives get fragmented after use. Panther's auto defragmenting works in defragmenting individual files, but it ends up scattering them all over the file system. Doing a backup via CCC is equivalent to a total defragment since you are placing all the files neatly onto the file system, in a contiguous manner i.e. 0% fragmentation. The added speed you saw was probably due to this defragmenting process.

Another problem could be the quality of the SATA controller and the associated drivers. These could be less mature than those for the ATA controller and thus exhibit poorer performance.
Additionally to the defragmenting CCC automatically does, you might also have checked the permissions thing, i.e. permissions got repaired before cloning.

But basically, installing Tiger on the S-ATA drive should still be faster. If you can, I would clean install Tiger on both and check the performance out. If you have a good external backup, that should be no problem.
Thanks for the quick replies. Just for your info, Fryke, I did repair the permissions before the CCC and I also zeroed the ATA hard drive before I cloned onto it. However, if it was the permissions, I would have thought the original system (on the SATA) would have picked up some speed. I didn't really notice a substaintial improvement after the permissions were corrected.

This brings up an important point though. Is CCC a golden way to do a complete defrag? Are there other, easier ways to do it?

As far as the install on both hard drives, I think I'll just take your advice and go with the SATA.
If you have a spare drive to back up to, yes, CCC (or similar programs) are the safest, most reliable way to remove fragmentation. Back up, reinitialize, restore. A bit of a hassle, but it gets rid of fragmentation just fine, and there is very little room for error. However, I don't think CCC works in Tiger (at least not for me). :( I guess SuperDuper can do the job just as well, though.

Dedicated defragmenting programs, like iDefrag, are too risky, IMO. I used iDefrag once. Started it on my 40GB HD, and 12 hours later I had a hosed drive. Took me days to get back up and running. I used to use Norton often with great success, but it's not really suitable for use with OS X (and has been discontinued).
Only in rare cases would one need to defragment an OS X drive. In fact, doing so can actually produce slow downs. Check here. And, other things equal, the SATA drive should be faster. The only way I defragment is by cloning; I just use (Tiger) Disk Utility--which is excellent for cloning. Never use Norton anything on an OS X Mac. But, especially, never defragment an OS X machine using any Norton product.