So, you’ve got your new laptop and after editing some amazing videos, you realized that you’re already running out of space! Newer “Pro” laptops just don’t seem to have enough storage for video editing projects. And using the same drive to store your data, OS and working files will also probably shorten the lifespan of your laptop. The solution? Purchase an external SSD and use that for your working project. Today we’ll take you step-by-step on how to edit on an external hard-drive!
Editing on an External Hard Drive
- The Why’s of An External Hard Drive
- How To Edit On FCPX with an External SSD
Our Little History with FCPX and External Drives
I originally wrote this post in 2018, but it seems that there have been some more questions popping up so I thought I’d try to rewrite the article and address them here. So the main question that should be on everyone’s mind is:
Why Edit with Final Cut Pro X on an External Hard Drive
Aside from saving your computer hard drive space since we’re all pretty limited with our new laptops. Here are a few more benefits of editing FCPX on an external hard drive.
- All hard drives will die
- Hard drives have a limited number of life cycles. Similar to how shoes have a rubber tread. The more you use it the faster they wear and when you use all those up they’ll eventually break.
- Video editing software (ie. FCPX, Premier, etc.) require a lot more resources from your hard drive. They are always trying to render, autosave and preview your files so “real-time” editing becomes more intuitive. (More About Scratch Drives: Reddit | Adobe | Create.pro)
Speed and Safety
- So by using an external drive (aka Scratch Drive) we can ensure that you’re not editing on the same drive that your Operating System (Apple, Microsoft, Linux, etc.) is on. Meaning you should be less likely to encounter errors, and most importantly it can help keep the life span of your computer for longer (b/c fewer cycles).
Why Use a Solid State Drive as a Scratch Drive?
So by viewing these points, then the next question you’ll probably ask is why are we using SSD’s?
If you are still new to computers, the benefit of SSDs versus regular hard drive is just pure speed. The reason why most of our computers don’t usually have them (thinking of old AF PC’s) is cause they are pretty costly. But thankfully as we progress in technology they’re becoming more and more accessible which is why I recommend the Samsung T7 Solid State Drive.
Creating a Worflow
I personally like to use my SSD as an “Active Project Only” Drive.
SSD = Active Projects Only
I’m always sceptical of drives in general as I believe they’ll all fail eventually. So if I can help lengthen the life of my drives by using them in a more efficient way than that’s what I’ll choose to do (They get expensive when you buy so many).
Finished Project = Move Off SSD
On top of the fragility of hard drive life spans, external drives can also get bumped, damaged, lost etc. So I only use my SSD for active projects and when I finish them I toss them onto a regular hard drive (it’s cheaper).
Backup Everything Important
I also recently bought a Synology NAS that I’m incorporating into my workflow so that my backups are backed up (keeping everything safe… hopefully).
It’s not likely I ever re-open projects unless it’s sentimental or client work so usually I’ll delete most of them. But I know some people like to save everything so the above is my recommended workflow.
How To Setup Your SSD To Edit with Final Cut Pro
Honestly, to keep things simple. If you have an existing FCPX project. All you need to do is just:
Copy the .fcpx library from your computer
Paste it onto the SSD
Then click it to open.
It’s just that simple. My previous post was just more detailed steps if you want to “optimize” the speed (setup cache, media, and backups) which I’ve covered here (Apple also explains it to here).
More Resourceful Links
The Number One Place For Video Editing Specs
Links for Everything Else
Smaller tidbits of information