How To Make the Most of Your Photoshop Scratch Disk

Proper management of your Photoshop scratch disk can drastically improve your photo editing experience. Setting yourself up properly will maximize the potential of the program.

Step 1 - Understand your scratch disk

Every time you make an adjustment in Photoshop, the program needs a place to write the changes. Many operations require more that just the RAM on your computer, so Photoshop uses a hard drive as a swap space. If you only have one hard drive attached to your computer, then Photoshop will automatically assign this hard drive as your scratch disk. However, this usually is not the most ideal situation for you to do your work in. More often than not, the default hard drive ends up being the internal C drive. This is a difficult spot for the computer to work from.

Step 2 - Reassign your scratch disk

If you go to your Photoshop preferences, you will be able to make changes to your scratch disk settings. Because Photoshop is installed on your internal hard drive, there is a lot of activity already going through there as you do your work. So find the fastest external drive that you have. Tell Photoshop to use this one as your scratch disk. You may want to create a partition dedicated for Photoshop purposes. This makes it easier for the program to find space since it will not have to dance around other files. This also makes your maintenance easier to keep up with because now you can easily format just this partition whenever you run out of space. Ideally, you should try to keep your drive in shape by formatting every few months.

Step 3 - Try multiple scratch disks

You should have already noticed an decrease in render time after step 2. However, you can achieve ultimate speed by using multiple drives. The best way to do this is with a RAID array which is essentially several hard drives recognized as one.  Imagine the effect as you would a traffic jam. A single lane of traffic can only go so fast, but as you add available routes, the flow quickens. This is essentially what will happen with your scratch data. The data can disperse itself across several cables rather than jamming itself through one. You should now be able to work seamlessly.

Step 4 - Alternative: Keep your disk clean

Some Photoshop users are more casual than others and may not use the program enough to warrant an extra expense. If you were unwilling to complete the previous steps, then you will need to at the very least keep your hard drive relatively clear. If you manage to fill up the scratch disk, you will get an error from Photoshop preventing you from completely the task that you assigned it. So try to clear out any files that do not need to occupy this valuable space on your hard drive. Leaving plenty of real estate for Photoshop to operate will keep your work moving. Again, this situation is far from ideal, but not all Photoshop users work with the program enough to require further investments.

The Photoshop scratch disk is important to maintain. Keeping it in shape will improve your working conditions.

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