Long-term Storage Solutions

A friend wrote:  My “new” 1 Tb laptop I bought for doing PS Raw is almost out of memory. I realize the new full crop files are much larger than the crop frame 70D images but I think the real problem is redundant storage of images. Windows 10 automatically dumps them into their “My Pictures” & I’ve been saving the jpg’s in another pictures file. Should I buy a storage so I can free up some memory by moving my PS Raw &/or jpg files out of the C drive on my laptop?

My Answer:  I’m only using an external hard drive for my photos and processing.  I have a Western Digital My Passport with 2 or 3TB of storage.  I put all my photos on that drive.  That way the computer never sees them and puts them somewhere.

I have another external hard drive that I use for back-ups when in the field.  That gets a back-up and then might go in my suitcase versus my computer bag on the way home.

(When I bought my latest Mac, the sales person asked me what I was going to use it for.  I said photos but I was going to only put them on the external hard drive.  He said that was the way most people were moving.)

That external hard drive can then be plugged into my big computer at home for more processing.

When I’m totally finished processing a trip, I copy all those files (RAW, jpg, and xmp) to the Drobo on my desk that I can grab in the event of a hurricane.    All photos are stored in the cloud via Backblaze.

That means I have the photos on the hard drive while I’m processing.  There’s a temporary backup on another hard drive but it’s just a temp backup.  Once I’m finished with the processing, the files get moved to the Drobo for permanent storage and  then the cloud.  Just in case, I also copy them to another external hard drive that is a duplicate copy of the files on the Drobo.

Once the photos on the working hard drive have been copied, then I delete them.  I also delete them from the temporary backup.  I always do this with the help of another person to cross-check and verify that the photos are really copied to both the Drobo and the copy hard drives.

That’s four hard drives:

  • Hard Drive #1:  For working on photos in the field on my laptop. Pictures are in folders labeled “Ireland 2018 day 1”, “Ireland 2018 day 2”, etc.
  • Hard Drive #2:  A back-up of the above. Folders called the same as above.
  • Hard Drive #3:  Working files and photos on my big desktop in the office.
  • Master storage of all processed and finished photos in individual folders on the Drobo. Folders have the same names as above.
  • Drobo is copied to external hard drives (#4) as master storage that can be stored off-site. Folders exactly the same as on the Drobo.

I would recommend you copy all your photos to a working hard drive.  That would be #1.  Copy them again to #2 hard drive.   Then create a Master Storage unit with lots of space for #3.  That’s duplicated on #4.

Redundant files?!?!?!?!  Welcome to the world of photography.  This is an ongoing issue.  Concentrate on getting it clean as you can.  Then get the back-ups.  Then try to stay on top of it.  I swear these files multiply at night.

External Hard Drives and Photo Processing

I’m putting all photos on external hard drives now.  Photos are so big that they take up a lot of space.  I am not putting photos on my laptop’s hard drive or my desktop’s hard drive. All photos are on external hard drive.

I’ve gone pretty extreme. My iMac is my main desktop computer. It has a 4TB hard drive attached that has photos, documents, etc.  All documents were moved off the iMac’s hard drive to the external hard drive.

My Macbook Pro has a 4TB hard drive that has the same.  I work on photos in the field and at home on the laptop.  No documents or photos are on the computer’s internal hard drive.

Once I am finished processing a folder of photos or all the photos from a trip, those photos get copied to a Drobo 15TB storage unit in a folder.  Those folders are numbered and named.  The folder might be “#1057 Costa Rica 2018 A_C”. 

The photos are then imported to my database (or Lightroom) for the catalogue.  This means that the only photos on the big 15TB storage device are finished photos.  The photos on my laptop or desktop hard drives are unfinished. 

I try to get photos off the desktop and laptop hard drives as soon as I can.  Doesn’t always work because some trips/outings take longer to process than others.  I try though.

I’m now using BackBlaze to put my photos in the cloud.  My MacBook Pro wants to put everything in the cloud so some photos are in iCloud. 

Applications like Photoshop, Bridge, Adobe Camera Raw, Lightroom, Word, Excel, etc are on each computer’s hard drive. It’s faster to use software that resides on my computer. I also have the software where I can use it if we have a power failure, hurricane, or disruption to the internet like in Africa or Peru.

So – in a nutshell – each computer has an external hard drive.  Photos are processed and then moved to the Drobo 15TB storage unit.  Those photos are the master catalogue.

I’ve created Favorite folders that reside on the external hard drive. These are a nice way to get photos quickly to attach to an email or upload to social media.