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TOPIC: Any advantage of converting external non-SSD drives to APFS?

Any advantage of converting external non-SSD drives to APFS? 25 Nov 2018 00:46 #97953

  • Redifer
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I updated my Mac from Low Sierra to Mohave and noticed the file system is now APFS (ApPle File System). OK, that's fine. Whatevs. Don't really feel any difference. I noticed that I can covert any drive to APFS fairly easily via Disk Utility. All of the information I look at on the internet seems to be about how amazing it is for SSD drives and none of the articles about APFS seem to have been updated to talk about how it works on regular drives. Any reason why I shouldn't convert? And any pressing reasons why I should?
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Any advantage of converting external non-SSD drives to APFS? 25 Nov 2018 02:53 #97958

  • dgwvideo
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Well, APFS is Apple's newest file system and previous systems have not been re-written in ages. There is likely a benefit to having the newer updated file system. Spinning drives probably don't benefit from it (and Larry Jordan has an article that recommends against converting spinning drives - but that is a bit dated and APFS might be OK for them now). I have all my SSD's under APFS but never converted any of the spinning drives. The converted SSD's all seem to read and write a bit faster, but no earth shattering speed bumps noticed. I would probably stick with APFS for all solid state and flash media and leave spinning drives alone.
Creating history....one edit at a time !
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Any advantage of converting external non-SSD drives to APFS? 26 Nov 2018 16:50 #97971

  • VidGreg
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Hi Joe
Personally, I would not use APFS on spinning hard drives (HDD). Lots of advantages for SSD and Flash based drives, but not HDDs. Unfortunately it is an intrinsic problem in how APFS works and most likely not going to improve in the future. APFS uses Copy on Write that will create fragmentation of data on platter drives. This is especially true for operations that have lots of changes/edits, not so much just for static data i.e. archives. APFS will write new blocks for each and every change that happens instead of overwriting data to the same physical location like HFS+ does. For SSD drives this is beneficial as it levels out writes to cells, but for HDDs it creates lots of small fragmented data blocks.
Here is 1 of many articles on this effect… blog.macsales.com/43043-using-apfs-on-hd...ou-might-not-want-to
There are also issues with disk images created by APFS. Maybe fixed in Mojave? see this article by Carbon Copy Cloner… bombich.com/blog/2018/02/15/macos-may-lo...ormatted-disk-images
Finally, APFS sometimes does not play nicely with NAS connected drives. This is improving, make sure to apply updates especially any new drivers/firmware with your devices and update SoftRAID if you use software RAID solutions.

Hope this Helps, Greg
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Any advantage of converting external non-SSD drives to APFS? 27 Nov 2018 06:13 #97976

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Very helpful, thank you both!
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Any advantage of converting external non-SSD drives to APFS? 27 Nov 2018 11:08 #97977

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At our TV station we've got 4 external drives we edit on daily formatted as APFS, and all are HDD. We've not had any issues at all. The largest of these feels like it's a bit more efficient, but that's subjective. Still, four large external drive, FCPX editing daily on them, since Mojave was first publicly released, no issues at all. Performance is just fine.
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