A few months ago I shifted my "Audio' folder to my external hard drive (WD 2TB Studio Edition 2). It has FW400, 800 and eSATA connections. Im currently using FW800 soon to be using eSATA (once I get the driver info from the supplied mini CD that wont fit into my MacbookPro laptop). I use the external drive for all (not just audio) my storage and record/playback too. It is currently approx half full. I often have playback issues when playing a ProTools session. ProTools suggests changing my buffer settings etc yet this doesn't really solve the issue. I've recently partitioned the External Drive to 4 sections. One partition is now dedicated to Audio (for recording, playingback and storage/management). Yet, ProTools is still often freezing when playingback but with a differnt message. Now saying my connection to the hd is either not fast enough or the drive is partitioned..I (maybe wrongfully) assumed that a partitioned drive would make it quicker to search the audio folder for the data needed. So, my questions: Does partitioning help speed the process up of searching for the info or should i go back to no partitions? Will the eSata connection solve the issue by increasing the transfer rate? or should I be using the internal drive for recording and playback and the external for storage/editing? ps: reminding you I have a Macbook Pro laptop which only has 1 internal drive (if this is relevant?) Any help is greatly appreciated:)
Partitioning will not speed up your read or access speed at all. The drive still turns at the same speed (7200rpm in the case of this particular drive), and it still has the same number of heads to read data. All the partition is going to do is help keep your data better organized. If you're not using the "audio" partition when performing other tasks, then data won't be written to that area of your disc. Less data=less clutter (aka fragmentation)...which is not a bad thing at all, but I don't think it will help your buffer idea.
Try limiting the record time available for your sessions in Pro Tools. The software actually operates better if you tell it to reserve a certain amount of space on your hard drive and work within that, than it does if you give it free reign over all of the free data sectors. You can set this by going to the "Operation" tab of the preferences menu. In the there's an option in the "Record" section of that page.
That's all I can think of right now without being in front of your system to see how it's actually behaving. I hope it helps.
The transfer speed (FW400, 800, USB, etc.) is very important, but the speed (7200rpm vs 5400rpm) of your hard drive plays a huge role in the performance. I'm not sure about the partitioning but it may be a good idea to use your internal drive for current projects and transferring what doesn't need constant access to your external drive.