External Storage Devices: A Photographers Options And Workflow

I have a Drobo external hard drive and I hate it. Opinions on these devices vary. Folks who have had little or no problems with their units seem happy. And then there's folks like me, and a chorus of others, who just hate the things.

I don't use my Drobo anymore. I should look at selling it and may end up with a more sophisticated alternative, like Synology, down the road aways. But, for now, a simpler approach seemed right.

Onsite Image Storage and Backup

I bought a Western Digital 8TB DUO external drive a few months back and set it up so that half of the drive is dedicated to image storage and the other half is a copy of those same files. Great, an onsite backup. The problem is that if the drive is damaged or stolen I lose all my images as well as their backups. Yikes! Thus the need for an inexpensive drive that I'm going to store offsite and transfer data to regularly.

I recently purchased two 4TB Western Digital external hard drives. One will be used for my Time Machine (Mac) backup for essential data stored on my 27" iMac computer. The second will be used as an offsite physical backup for my images.

Off-Site Storage

I just have to work out where to store it. I used to have a formal teaching gig just around the corner from where I currently reside. That would have been an ideal and convenient place to store the offsite external drive. Perhaps I'II look at a nearby post office box or an equivalent offering instead.

Cloud-Based Storage

I'm all for online cloud storage. But it's slow and expensive when tens of thousands of images are involved. My thinking is to start to move my best images, in relatively small batches, online.

My practice, up until very recent times, was to always keep Master versions of my finished photoshop files. That meant keeping them in Tiff or PSD format with all layers intact. File sizes were usually in the 800-1600Mb range, which is a problem when it comes to uploading such large files to online storage.

The solution, for now at least, would be to flatten the files (which I've just started doing for some of my recently finished Master images) and put a copy of them up on the cloud, possibly even in JPEG format.

Storage is very much like insurance. Most of us don't want to know about it, but it is our responsibility to do something about it - NOW!

I’d ask you to use this post as a motivation to ensure you have a decent backup system in place. If not, now’s the time to act.

Glenn Guy, Travel Photography Guru