Would an SSD improve speed?

Hi Shotcut Team,

I have an i5 10500, 16GB RAM, RTX 3060.

I was hoping to use Shotcut to covert a 720x576 60FPS video to a series of PNGs and also a series of 1440x1080 60FPS PNGs to a video.

I need to increase my storage and I was wondering if I went for an SSD over a HDD would there be a significant improvement in speed? I’d prefer to go HDD due to cost


Exporting should be a little faster with an SSD than with a traditional hard drive, however I think the design team thought about this, while shotcut processes the video, the writing is done in parallel on the output, so unless it’s a big video, I don’t know if it’s measurable. It is best to install the entire system and applications on the SSD, as launching the latter and the app will be much faster.

SSD is much faster …

If the pngs are large enough then yes, you could see a major improvement in speed for both of those operations (assuming right now if you take a look in task manager/disk usage analyzer at HDD usage you see 100% utilization and constant speeds of 100+MB/s).

But no matter if you see 100% or not, a SSD will definitely make your pc run snappier, like visibly snappier, so go for it.

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By “make your pc run snappier” I suppose that you imply that everything (operating system, programs, etc…) is installed on the SSD. But what about keeping everything on the original HDD and using a SSD only for Shotcut projects and related files?

Indeed, I assumed everything would be on the SSD.

Only having shotcut and files on the SSD would still help quite a bit in this use case as splitting video to individual PNGs is a very fast process limited mostly by drive speed and the PNG to video part will depend on encoding but with some rough assumptions (2-5MB per png file and x264 fast) it will still at least double the speed.
But does this matter? I mean how long is it taking right now? 10 minutes? 10 hours?

So the final answer would depend a lot on the specifics of these project files, I would absolutely go for a SSD and put the OS on it, but realistically a HDD can handle most workloads fine as you can just leave exports to run overnight or something.

Thanks @daniel47

So If I got it right, using a SSD would only improve the export time. It would not improve anything while editing? Like reduce lagging when previewing the project for example.

In OP’s case, yes.

I’m not sure I understand this part, do you mean if Shotcut itself is installed on a ssd? If so, this would not make a difference as any executable is loaded in RAM first so it is already there at the time of editing. (I don’t want to get into full ram/page file swapping situation).

If you mean playing back the resource files that are on a HDD, for RAW footage it would absolutely matter - a HDD couldn’t even keep up with 1080p RAW (=3gbps), I was mostly considering his original post of 576/1080p footage and for a regular user editing regular 1080p when worst case scenario we’re talking miliseconds of lag due to hdd access time vs ssd (but even then, this would be negligible anyway due to the time it requires the CPU to process the frame).

When I first switched from an HDD to an SDD, I found that everything on my computer became immediately faster. It felt like I had a new computer. In the case of Shotcut, specifically, Shotcut preview and export spends quite a bit of time waiting for data to be found and read from the hard drive. An SDD has much lower seek times than HDD and can make a dramatic impact on how quickly files can be processed.

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When creating a PNG series from 60fps footage, there are likely to be thousands of PNG files created. Bear in mind that creating a hypothetical 10 GB worth of PNG files is massively slower than writing a continuous 10 GB stream for a single video file. Creating each unique PNG file involves allocating a new file in the file allocation table (FAT) or master file table (MFT in NTFS), plus a full set of file open and file close operations for each PNG file. This is an expensive set of operations and involves a lot of seeking, of which magnetic drives are slow. Whenever a lot of writes to the FAT/MFT are involved, SSD or NVMe will seem radically faster than magnetic storage due to their faster seek times. You may notice the same phenomenon when unpacking a zip file with 30,000 files inside, and it unpacks to an SSD way faster than it does to magnetic storage. The time spent allocating new files is the reason.

So, in the OP’s specific case… Yes, the SSD would feel faster when writing a PNG series (assuming Shotcut was able to hand off frames fast enough that storage speed became the bottleneck). For exporting to a regular video file rather than an image sequence… the difference between drive types may not be noticeable unless using lossless codecs, which generate files so large that storage becomes the bottleneck again.

I think we went too deep into theory without realising the issue at hand (tbh OP didn’t really throw any numbers at us).

Just tried to export the same 1 minute 2704x1520 59.97 HEVC 443MB video to png (used ssd/hdd both as source file and export destination):
ssd: 21m20s
hdd: 21m25s

That is so much more than expected and definitely not limited by hdd speed (I assume it’s using only one CPU thread, disk usage is about 10-15MB/s burst every 1-2 seconds, I could export this to an USB stick and still not be limited).

For OP: a very good alternative (if no other edits are done to the video) is to use ffmpeg directly for png export:

ffmpeg -i GX017054.MP4 export/out-%04d.png

time is identical to milisedconds centiseconds both for ssd and hdd: time=00:01:01.87 and I think the main reason is that the CPU was at 99% for the entire duration of the export so it bottlenecked there way before writing to disk.

A little sidenote here, I think the OS is very smart and caches all file writes to RAM anyway otherwise it would not really be that close of a time. I guess this could change for reaaaly big files but honestly, the main issue for you I think is png export in shotcut is insanely slow at 20x worse than ffmpeg.

I’ve got a DELL i5 6th generation. As my spare computer as it was so slow - had a 1tB HDD. I put it in the back-room and it could do things like rendering while I was using my much faster newer i5 10th ASUS to process video.

But the old DELL (was never a good computer) would sometimes just - crash for some odd reason. I’d upgraded RAM, and re-loaded Win10. Still would crash. But would take 4-5 hours to render a 1¼ hour video (from 2 cameras).

I lashed out and spent about $50 for an SSD - so much faster - takes more like 2½ hours to render and has NEVER crashed.

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