Wednesday, 20 December 2017 13:09

Crucial tips to speed up Adobe Photoshop (and your PC or Mac)


If you're still waiting on your computer to finish so you can get on with the next task, then these tips to speed up Photoshop are a picture perfect way to speed up all computer operations.

At nearly every stage in the Photoshop workflow, graphic designers and photographers often experience delays. From launching the app to loading images, applying effects, rendering, saving and outputting files to clients, waiting on your computer is a normal part of the day – but it doesn’t have to be.

Indeed, it's not just photo editors who have to wait on their computers in the modern era, especially if those computers are equipped with old-fashioned spinning hard drives, but virtually anyone who has yet to upgrade to an SSD, or solid state drive.

Now comes new research from memory specialists Crucial, which "has revealed that by simply upgrading your computer’s hard drive to an SSD and maxing out your memory, you can speed up every step in your workflow and spend less time staring at spinning cursors and more time getting projects done", – and Adobe agrees.

So, how does more memory and SSDs speed up Photoshop – and all computing?

Here's how:

  1. By booting up up faster.
  2. By transferring files from camera to computer faster.
  3. By loadingPhotoshop and other applications faster.
  4. By loading images and files faster.
  5. By letting you edit and create faster.
  6. By letting you save and output faster.
  7. By multitasking faster.

To this I'd add that a fast SSD and more memory let your computer's CPU think faster, too, because it no longer has to deal with I/O and memory bottlenecks, so in every respect, I can personally attest to this being the worthiest of upgrades you can make to your Windows PC or older Mac.

After all, everyday actions such as "processing images, manipulating images (adding layers and effects), rendering, reverting files, running Photoshop and other applications rely on memory".

Adobe says about the role of memory in Photoshop, “Memory has a direct connection to the size of images you can work on – both in terms of pixel dimensions and in bit depth (colour accuracy). Larger amounts of memory are also often required to composite multiple images together, or to perform certain operations on them. If you don’t have enough memory to hold the images being manipulated, the system must “swap out” portions of memory to and from your computer’s hard drive, which slows down your computer considerably.”

That stat comes from Adobe's Hardware Performance White Paper, which you can read here

You may be asking yourself again... why is memory so important?

"Well, in order to run Photoshop (or any application), the program must be copied and held in the computer’s memory. In similar fashion, every image you’re working on must also be copied and held in RAM.

"More memory means you can handle more images and programs at once – and work on them in real time, not lag time. Oddly enough, more memory also often means you can save and revert files faster.

"Since most Photoshop files are extremely large, they consume a lot of DRAM which must be converted (“swapped”) into storage. The more memory you have, the more resources your memory has to swap into storage. Using an SSD helps, too, as data gets written faster into long-term storage."

And what about the solid state drive – the SSD?

Here, we're reminded that your system’s storage drive "is what loads and saves every image and document you’re working on".

"It’s also what loads Photoshop, and it’s what your system uses to manipulate images and render when you run out of memory (a common occurrence when multitasking). Switching from a hard drive to an SSD in Photoshop is like moving from dial-up Internet to broadband – it’s that big of a jump and the speed never lets up. Imagine doing things in seconds that used to take minutes.

"That’s the power of an SSD, and it really kicks in if you frequently save incremental versions of a project. When you factor in ever-increasing resolution requirements, growing file sizes, and the need to save projects constantly in case a client changes their mind, the ability to save and call up files quickly is a gift to yourself that never gets old.

"It’s also a gift that keeps on giving because SSDs have no small moving parts, meaning they’re less prone to failure – and less prone to crashing and losing a client’s files."

How did Crucial test this?

Crucial performance tested four configurations of the same base system and were able to isolate performance variables and assess that adding and upgrading DRAM and SSDs impacted a typical graphic design project — creating a poster — by speeding up the process.

No matter what type of computer you’re using or what your workload entails, more memory and an SSD is a proven way to help speed up your workflow – especially when it comes to multitasking. Keep in mind, though, that multitasking isn’t just about running multiple things at once. It’s also about getting into multiple things at once, and that’s why an SSD helps, too.

The crucial conclusion:

According to Crucial, "the bottom line comes down to this – speed up Photoshop by speeding up what powers it. Software may enable digital design, but it’s your computer’s hardware that determines the speed of design.

"Max out your hardware’s performance by ensuring that every upgradeable component is performing as fast as possible. It’s not enough to just use a fast CPU. You need enough memory to continuously feed every processing core – and lots of SSD storage to instantly load and save everything you do."

Of course, Crucial has many competitors out there, all of whom would agree with this advice and hope that you'll use their technologies instead, but the simple reality is this – memory and SSDs have never been more affordable, nor their utility more crucial.

Whether performance is of crucial importance to you, or not, Crucial does crush most competitors on quality and speed, so to be most fiducial, you must check out Crucial!

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Alex Zaharov-Reutt

One of Australia’s best-known technology journalists and consumer tech experts, Alex has appeared in his capacity as technology expert on all of Australia’s free-to-air and pay TV networks on all the major news and current affairs programs, on commercial and public radio, and technology, lifestyle and reality TV shows. Visit Alex at Twitter here.

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