Warning: SSD and ExFAT Speeds are Much Slower in macOS Ventura & Reformatting Drives is Trickier

Just before I started my webinar last Wednesday, I read a warning on the Hedge.video blog about ExFAT. In it they warned that macOS Ventura reads and writes ExFAT drives significantly more slowly than macOS Monterey.

So, I decided to test this to see if it’s true.

It’s true, but it is worse than that. When a PCIe SSD is formatted using ExFAT:

When a PCIe SSD is formatted using APFS (the current file system):

While these speed slow-downs won’t generally affect single camera editing, they can dramatically impact multicam edits and DIT transfers.

NOTE: APFS is designed for SSDs. HFS+ is best used for spinning media. My assumption is that these speed slowdowns also apply to NVMe SSDs, but I don’t have the hardware to test this currently.

THE TEST

Using a 16″ MacBook Pro (with an M1 Pro chip) running first Monterey then Ventura, I formatted a 1 TB Samsung T-5 PCIe SSD using ExFAT and APFS in macOS Monterey. It connected via USB-C.

I measured read and write speeds using both AJA System Test and Blackmagic Disk Speed Test by running five tests each.

I then updated my computer to macOS Ventura, reformatted the drive and ran five more tests checking the read and write speeds using ExFAT and APFS. In all cases, the SSD drive was empty and newly formatted.

Then, since it seems that one or both of the AJA and BMD results are not accurate, I averaged the two and compared them.

NOTE: All my tests, results and charts are available in a PDF at the end of this article.

THE RESULTS

ExFAT in Monterey provides the fastest read speeds I measured. Peaks hit 527 MB/second. However, when the same disk is accessed in Ventura, read speeds drop 35%! Writes decrease by 25%. These differences are dramatic!

As I mentioned at the beginning, the speed drop applies to more than just ExFAT. APFS volumes write almost 15% slower, while reads are 25% slower in Ventura, compared to Monterey.

Whether these speed drops are intentional or a bug, I can’t tell. However, for now, assume that all your SSD work is going to run slower or take longer.

FORMATTING

If you select the wrong thing in Disk Utility, ExFAT and FAT32 are missing.

I got a shock when I went to reformat the Samsung drive in Ventura.  ExFAT didn’t exist!

Not to panic, it’s still there – but it moved. Unlike past operating systems, APFS creates containers that store one or more volumes. If you select a volume in an APFS container, the only re-format option is APFS.

Instead, when using Disk Utility, first select the container (red arrow), not the volume inside it. When you do, all the traditional format options, along with a variety of new APFS flavors, become available.

NOTE: If the container is not showing, select View > All Devices from the top menu.

SUMMARY

Ventura dramatically lowered SSD speeds compared to Monterey. For single camera projects, this won’t make much difference. For DIT file processing it means all your transfers will take a long longer. And for multicam work, this means that SSDs will support far fewer streams than before.

Be sure to test your system speed before starting any major projects.

EXTRA CREDIT

Here is a PDF with the results of my tests.


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11 Responses to Warning: SSD and ExFAT Speeds are Much Slower in macOS Ventura & Reformatting Drives is Trickier

  1. Jake Hodgman says:

    This is crazy. What is going on at Apple that they are downgrading speed with an update?
    ‘So disappointing that they are making the user experience worse instead of better.
    They’d have to spend less on marketing if they invested in improved word-of-mouth by avoiding reasons for griping from those of us who have invested in their products.
    If they can’t afford to test their systems to at least the level you do, they are letting us all down.
    I’d happily live with less iterations of watches and phones if it meant they put the ‘Pro’ back in their products.

  2. Bert Koenderink says:

    Hi Larry, I have ordered a MacStudio with 1Tb SSD harddisk, that will be AFPS formatted probably and to be installed with Ventura. Media to be connected with OWC Thunderbay with spinning harddisks. Can these harddisks be formatted HFS+ (softraid 7.0) and will it work together?
    Thanks for your great and helpful reviews, articles and tutorials!

    • Larry says:

      Bert:

      Yes. SSDs, like your internal drive, should be formatted as APFS. Spinning hard disks should be formatted as HFS+.

      They will work together fine.

      Larry

      • Sharon says:

        Larry, at 5:08 am did you really mean to write Spinning hard disks should be formatted as APFS?
        Always appreciate your responses.

  3. Larry Travis says:

    Hi Larry,

    Though far from scientific, I ran tests on my iMac Pro connected to a a 500gb external SSD in ExFAT and tested it with BlackMagic’s Disk Speed Test before reformatting it back to APFS (I had given it to a film house that couldn’t read APFS on their pc’s).

    The ExFAT speeds were 25% slower than the APFS. Bad news! The APFS speeds running Ventura were the same as on Monterey. 😉

    Same APFS results for the internal drive–no change after the upgrade. Also true for an external 4tb SSD RAID (Mac OS Extended (Journaled)).

    Tests were a bit erratic on my spinning disk 20tb JBOD (Mac OS Extended (Journaled), Read speeds stayed the same but Write speeds were generally higher but also dropped dramatically at times so those numbers seem unreliable. A 10-year-old bare drive sitting in a cradle showed improved speed since I last tested it 2 years ago–about 25% increase. This, too, could be an anomaly but the speed remained very constant with a 1gb load as well as a 5gb load. Old drives. Gotta love them… Just don’t let them be your only backup.

    Hope this info helps.

    From another Larry.

  4. Gloria Messer says:

    Hi Larry, I use a La Cie 20T spinning disk drive for back up, formatted as APFS.
    Should it be formatted to HFS? Thank you.

    • Larry Jordan says:

      Gloria:

      Spinning hard disks, and RAIDs containing spinning hard disks, should be formatted as HFS+, which is optimized for spinning media. Formatting an HDD as APFS will slow it down.

      SDDs, and RAIDs containing SSDs, should be formatted as APFS, which is optimized for SSDs. Formatting an SSD as HFS+ will drastically slow it down.

      Larry

  5. Alt says:

    My testing with exFAT formatted drives looks like mounting errors and slow speeds has been fixed. Anyone else?

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