I'm beginning to do more video stuff and I'm using iMac to export various kinds of video using Premiere Pro and also After Effects for compositions. I'm looking to speed up the export process in a cost effective way. Currently the iMac just has a 1TB non-SDD hard drive in it which I know isn't optimum.
What would be the best options for scratch disks and external drives in order to maximise performance? Could getting a Thunderbolt external SSD be the way to go? Or a RAID?
[Moderator note: moved to best forum]
Honestly, it's not going to be easy to speed up the export process with your current hardware. A faster external hard drive MAY increase the output a negligible amount, but nothing hugely significant. The vast majority of your export speed is based off your processor (And possibly GPU depending on what you've got and your settings). But since you can't change out the processor or GPU on an iMac, you're kind of stuck with what you've got. That being said, you can gain small performance boosts in other areas of the program by making sure your media is on a separate drive from your boot drive. And yes, if you want to take it a step further, you can boost performance in the apps by making sure your Media Disk Caches are on separate drives as well.
As for whether you go SSD or standard spinning disk, well, it's up to you. Obviously SSD is better but much more espensive per GB. Again, even an SSD isn't likely to speed up exports, just possibly file transfers between drives and reading media from within the programs. Do you have a good back up solution? If not, maybe something like a RAID 1 drive with spinning disks is a decent solution.