Supercharge Adobe Photoshop Workflow with Scratch Disks

Supercharge Adobe Photoshop Workflow with Scratch Disks

“You’ll be stunned at how much snappier Photoshop feels”

Tom Barnes, portrait and music photographer and G-TEAM veteran is a busy man to say the least. Between back-to-back shoots and edits for Channel 4, Kerrang! and Sony Music he still manages to find time for sleep, cups of tea, and maybe even a movie with the wife.

As he says, “I can’t afford to have slow workflow.”

In this first installment of a series of posts on workflow speed, we pick his brains on keeping Photoshop running at maximum speed using scratch disks. A notorious tech-geek (sorry Tom), he had plenty to say…

Scratch what?

Adobe has a good overview of the ins and outs of scratch disks here, but Tom sums up the idea for us:

“A scratch disk is essentially a temporary drive that the software can write to, to make sure that no files are going back onto the drive you’re writing the file from.

“If you haven’t ever used a scratch disk, use a scratch disk,” he states emphatically. You’ll be stunned at how much snappier Photoshop feels, how quickly everything gets done, you can open up more files… basically it just makes everything go from four or five up to nine or ten speed-wise.”

Spread the load

Having run plenty of workshops and seminars, Tom is genuinely surprised at the lack of awareness of scratch disks, RAID and other technical elements of workflow among professional photographers.

“Most people are running all their photos off an internal drive, on the same computer they’re working from, and you think, well, obviously it’s slow! You’re running everything over the same USB2 channel! How do you expect to ever get anything done?”

Tom’s own Mac Pro studio setup includes a 4TB G-Technology G-DRIVE PRO devoted to scratch disk duties, which means that “everything is sped up to lightning quick.” As he explains, “I’m getting SSD performance, so about 450-500 MB/s read/write off this drive, which is only used as my temporary drive.”

Setting up

“With a scratch disk, you do want to have the fastest drive you can afford,” explains Tom. “The whole point is that it’s a performance enhancing tool.

“In terms of setting up your scratch disk, Photoshop deals with it all. Set your drive as the scratch disk in Photoshop, click it as your primary one and then as long as Photoshop can find it, it will use that as the temporary drive. That’s it. No drama, no problems.”

Find out how you can get 20% off your next Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom subscriptions here.


G-Team members are leaders in their respective fields who use G-Technology products in their day-to-day work lives. G-Team members are compensated for their participation.

G-Technology external hard drives serve as an element of an overall backup strategy. It is recommended that users keep two or more copies of their most important files backed up or stored on separate devices or online services.

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Supercharge Adobe Photoshop Workflow with Scratch Disks