What computer operating system are you running your Premiere Elements 12?
If you have a stable USB external hard drive, I would use that as a supplemental drive for Scratch Disks location as well as video storage.
In the Windows world, I would make sure that the drive is formatted NTFS and not FAT32.
If you are forever plugging the external hard drive in and out, beware of drive letter changes that can mess up your projects.
Premiere Elements has copies of the originals that exist on the computer hard drive, and these copies in Premiere Elements trace back to the originals on the hard drive.
If the drive letter changes, you move source media, rename them or their folders, you get into nasty Media Offline (media reconnect) issues for the project - to the extent you may not be able to open the project.
Drive capacity and free space on the drive are the important considerations as well as the speed of the transfers.
I am still running with USB 2 external hard drives (250 to 1 TB capacity) and have not had any problems.
I'm using an iMac with mavericks. Not sure what you mean by Scratch
Disks. This is all new to me.
Any advice appreciated.
For Scratch Disks please refer to Edit Menu/Preferences/Scratch Disks in the Premiere Elements workspaces.
The above applies to Premiere Elements 11 and 12.
As for iMac with Mavericks, I believe the external hard drive will probably be FAT32 instead of NTFS. This link to the Mac Store is meant as informational (non promotional) for the type of external hard drive that might be in consideration.
Look for the best price from wherever you purchase as well as the quality and specs of the product.
I would suggest that you establish your workflows without the external hard drive, that is, with your Mac default locations. And, once you have that workflow optimized, then introduce the external hard drive into it.
Thanks for that. Much appreciated.
In the PC world, disks are designated first by their disk number, starting with Disk 0, and moving up. A three physical disk system would have Disk 0, Disk 1 and Disk 2. This is at the mechanical, or hardware level. At the next level, the OS level, the disks, or partitions in the disks, are designated by Drive Letters, and from my example above, with three physical disks, and no partitions, would be Disk 0 = C:\, Disk 1 = D:\ and Disk 2 = E:\. Those letters are the Drive Letters. On a Mac OS, the Drive Letters roughly translate to the Volume Names. Strong similarities, but also some differences.
As ATR mentioned, with external drives, a Windows OS might assign a different Drive Letter to the same external, depending on what else might be plugged in, or the order that things are turned on. That will definitely confuse PrE, as it links to files via absolute Paths, starting with the Drive Letter, and working down through folders and sub-folders, to finally get to the exact file. If any part of that Path changes, the link with PrE is broken. If the Drive Letter changes, the Path has changed, and the link is broken. With a PC, one can set a unique Drive Letter for a particular external, so that it will always have the same Drive Letter, regardless of what else is plugged in, or the order that things are turned on. That maintains the Path, and the links to PrE.
As I understand it (I am a PC-only guy, so might need a bit of help for the "fine points" here), the Mac OS does similar, but does make things a bit easier. When one assigns a Volume Name to the external, that will stay the same - the OS is pretty smart. However, there is a weakness to the whole scheme. The Mac OS will allow one to assign the same Volume Name over and over, to different externals. That can cause issues.
For all externals, whether on a Mac, or a PC, I would follow a simple scheme. It's the one that I use on my PC's. I use Avery Removable Diskette (those were 3.5" plastic-encased removable disks, used long before CD's, DVD's, flash drives, etc., in case you have not encountered that name) Labels. I print the Drive Letter that I have assigned to that external and then add some details, such as the Project Names, that I have used that drive for. The Drive Letter is not likely to be changed (each has the same Drive Letter in the OS of each of my computers, so that Z:\ will be seen as Z:\ on each, and every time that it is plugged in). I use the removable labels, as I might delete a Project, or add another one to that external.
As I often migrate Projects from say a laptop to a workstation to finish a Project, I place ALL Project Files onto the external. I will either set up the Project alone, or perhaps under a client name. As an example, let's take my Z:\ drive as an example. I have several Projects for Keyline Design, so here is how it looks:
[Project Name 01]
[Project Name 02]
Then, for Project Name 01, I will have another level of sub-folders for common Assets, and the Scratch Disks:
Project Name 01
I will Copy my Assets, if they are in my "stock Assets" collection, leaving the originals on my NAS for archived storage. I'll Copy all Video files to that Video sub-folder, and the same for any Stills, any Music, and SFX, etc..
The Scratch Disks could probably have been better named as "Working Files." By default, PrE will set those up, Same As Project (which I use when working with externals, but that can be changed to suit, via Edit>Preferences), and will contain the Media Cache (Conformed Audio, and Waveform Display files), Previews (Rendered files for smoothest playback), Captures (Captured Video from miniDV Tape), etc.. PrE needs to access those files on a fairly regular basis. For that reason, the external and all of its folders need to be setup to all full Permissions - Read, Write, Copy, Delete and Rename. This is something to do in the OS. It is a bit different for a PC vs a Mac, but the end result is the same - the user has full control over ALL of the folders and files.
Note: the above scheme is designed to allow me to migrate a Project between computers. If that is not in the scheme, then the external can be used for all of a Project, or any part that you wish to place there. I would still suggest setting the Volume Name on the Mac, or Drive Letter on the PC, so that any absolute Paths are maintained over, and over.
As to the controller speed, I found issues with USB 2.0's, on my PC's. Things were better, but still not good with FW-400 (IEEE-1394a), but they work perfectly with FW-800 (IEEE-1394b), eSATA and USB 3.0. I only use USB 2.0 externals for archiving Assets, and not for editing. Some users have had good luck with USB 2.0 externals, but I, and many hundreds of others have not, including the dreaded Delayed Write Failue (a PC error message), that can result in the external failing completely, loosing everything on it. The drive has to be low-level formatted, then formatted for the OS - everything is wiped out.
Now, as to NTSF, or FAT32, if you do not need to share your external with a PC, you should be able to format it with the newer expanded Mac formatting HFS+. That will get you around the issues with FAT32, but only do this if you will not be swapping this drive to a PC user.
Here is my article on using externals for editing, though it is highly PC-centric. I tried to cover the differences, of which I am aware, for the Mac, but am certain that I missed some things. http://forums.adobe.com/thread/784220?tstart=0
Here is my article on folder setup for Projects. Remember, for most of that, I am referring to Projects that will be migrated, but you will get a general feel for how I set up my Projects. http://forums.adobe.com/message/3998053#3998053
Good luck, and if you have any questions, do not hesitate to ask. Also, though some of us are PC-only, the forum MOD, Steve Grisetti, and several more, know their Macs very well, and can help, when things get Mac-specific.