External hard drive? How do you store images off computer?

Discussion in 'Digital Darkroom' started by dan_hall|4, Jan 29, 2008.

  1. I have an IBM laptop and while using PSE 6.0 lately, I am getting warnings that
    my C-drive (IBM Preload) is nearing full capacity. It prevents me frop pp
    images in PSE 6.0. I wonder if I should store my photos on an external hard
    drive or similar device. I have seen pictures of some that hold the CF card and
    makes a copy of all images. Do people use these to store images instead of
    loading them and storing on the PC? I heard some will burn the stored images on
    to a DVD. Would this help me free up some space on my hard drive so I can
    continue pp in PSE 6.0? I have 3000+ images in "my pictures" now. Any insights
    would be most appreciated.
  2. Hi

    I'm mainly out and away from "home" ... often for a few years at a time. I use a laptop for most of my imaging. Personally, after using CD's and then DVD's as my backup for some time, I've been seduced by the drop in prices of large external USB hard disks. I've been gradually expanding mine from 160gig a few years ago to a new 500 gig just the other day. Always seems to be costing about a hundred bucks. (quick note, in Europe I call a 100 euro a 100 bucks, in Japan 1man yen, in Australia $100...)

    Beware of hard disk failure, so as a 'just in case' I back them up to DVD's too. One can get a spindle of 50 DVD's for not much more than 15 bucks (which amounts to over 200Gig) This is cheaper than a second hard disk (for justin case your new hard disk is instead wallaby teds bigger bigger brother "roo ted" and you loose your images)

    My rule of thumb on HDD's is that they'll kick the bucket in short order or last for 2 or 3 years. I've kept my older 160 in a drawer for justin case

    The cost of the USB 2.0 powered external drives is low now at 20c a gig, add to this the speed of access its hard to ignore them.

    Just make sure you don't fluff the disk up with accidental formatting or access with a program which wipes it (that's were those $20 worth of DVD's will come in handy to restore from)

  3. I use a portable USB2 80G drive, which holds 3 or 4 weeks worth of RAW images when I'm on the road. Each night I back up the days shooting to that drive and to DVDs. A laptop makes that easy. I carry the blank DVDs in a CD "book" and return the burned DVDs to the same pockets.
  4. Here's how I do it, your mileage may vary.

    I keep 1 external HDD for image backups. I back up my images once every couple of weeks to this HDD.

    When my processed image folder reaches 8 gigabytes, I back them up onto 2 dual layer DVDs and remove them (the processed images) from my main HDD (leaving them on the back up HDD).

    Once a year I buy a new larger external HDD and back up the old external drive to the new one. I then retire the old drive. The reason why I do this is because HDD's have a much higher rate of failure when they aren't used regularly, so retiring the external drive once a year keeps HDD failures to a minimum. (I haven't had an HDD failure in years, so I'm probably doing something right... And that coming from someone who was an IT for over a decade).

    My internal HDD's get replaced when the warranties are up or 3 years, whichever comes first.

    Also every five years I back up my DVDs (Yes, optical media can fail too after a period of time).

    If your external drive doesn't get a lot of use, be sure to spin it up once a month, defrag it, run a virus scan, and run scandisk on it just to make sure it's in tip top shape.
  5. Oh one more thing, If you have a tendency to write on your DVDs like I do (instead of making labels) Grab yourself an Acid Free marker to use. Don't use the regular markers. The acid contained in regular markers can eat through the disk over a period of time and ruin it.

    If you sign your photographs or have a tendency to write on the back of them you probably already have a few of these markers laying around anyway.
  6. Say

    Dougs point on "If your external drive doesn't get a lot of use, be sure to spin it up once a month, defrag it, run a virus scan, and run scandisk on it just to make sure it's in tip top shape." is a good one (and hadn't thought of that myself)

    there is some literature out there suggesting that 'bit rot' can effect data which is not refreshed. If the files get moved to another location from time to time that should fix that error

    some worthwhile reads here are

    as well as the comments by CA church in this one:
  7. Dan

    on a non photographic related point, don't let your hard disk get too close to capacity with windows OS's (in case you're not using linux on your thinkpad that is). Windows gets cranky if it hasn't got enough space on the partition where the swap file (virtual memory) resides. If you only have a C drive, that'll be the one.

    Suggestion: get a new 100 gig drive (guessing you have something smaller) and partition it into 30 and 70 (well, it won't turn out exactly like that but anyway round numbers). Keep windows on the 30 size, and put your images an stuff on the 70. You might need to struggle with software that defaults to "my pictures" but you'll gain a lot in being able to 'snapshot' the 30 gig partition which has all your apps and OS installed on it. So when (not if) your hard disk gives up, you'll painlessly be able to restore to a new partition.

    feel free to email me if you want more ideas on this.
  8. Degradation of an HDA's discs tends to happen with newere drives; ones made with AFC type media. This use ruthenium between two mag layers. The sandwitch is thicker but appears sort of like a thinner one; and thus supports a higher aeral density. This was coined Pixie dust in the drive industry; drives first came out in 2001 at IBM; research goes back to about twenty years ago. The loss is called superparamagnetic effect. A newer trend beyond AFC media is perpendicular recording; is been worked on in labs for decades too; actually over a century. The 2.8 meg super floppies by Toshiba did this for IBM's old PS2 computers in the early 1990's. The Apple ipod's HDA uses PMR' perpendicular mage recording in its HDAs.
  9. Kelly

    great bit of info there (being a collector of eclectic snippets myself) but I'm not sure what it is your suggesting about anything said so far, apart from that newer drives may suffer more from degradation than older ones. I guess there has to be some penalty for the higher density.

    I wonder if we'll go back to punch card based tech?


    (wondering if the moderator will delete this any time soon)
  10. On my computer I have two drives that are configured in a raid so that they back each other up. I also have a 500 gig external and a smaller 160 gig drive. I back the photos from my main drive up every time I down load new ones and back up that drive to smaller one once a week. Smaller drive is kept in fire safe when not in use. Anything that is important I have copies on either CD or DVD both at home and I send a copy to my sister for safekeeping. John
  11. Dan,

    Here is the strategy I use, and the reason behind it:

    1) All incoming images are copied to a 300k RPM internal SATAII hard drive. This allows maximum performance while working with the images in photoshop during early stages. Once an incoming directory is either completed, or reaches an age of one month, I move the contents to an external (cheap, usb) hard drive with a lot of capacity. I do not worry if this drive fails in that month time frame as I have such a slew of of SD cards that it takes about two months to cycle through them. And I always cycle my SD cards.

    2) Once a week every new file written (or file with a modified date in the time frame) on the external hard drive is moved to a data center with hardware I have physical access to. This data center uses both RAID and ZFS to ensure a high level (but not perfect!) of recovery in case of any failure there. The reason I require physical access is that we are talking about hundreds of gigs of data that I have accumulated. This could take weeks to recover if my home archive is lost otherwise, in this case, I just take some external hard drives there and have a new copy in a day. A simple perl script manages this process via File::Find and scp.

    3) I have, since my previous post that was referred to above was made, added a second off-site storage via mozy.com. The reason I use that as my second off-site storage is: it is very inexpensive ($5/mo unlimited vs. an amount I won't disclose for option #2 =), it uses a block-based backup mechanism allowing me to run it every night, and it allows a simple mechanism to restore a previous version via windows explorer. That last point is important for when I accidentally hit "save" vs. "save-as" when I wanted to create a new "branch" of a file.

    For those who only use off-site, on-line storage mechanisms like myself (vs. dvds in a safety deposit box or at your relatives), it pays in dividends to recognize why you should always use more than one solution. Just look at what happened to strongdisk: http://www.joyeur.com/2008/01/22/bingodisk-and-strongspace-what-happened

    Imagine if you needed a particular file for a customer in that ten days!

  12. Also, a point I want to make about online storage engines that I forgot to include: ensure that you can a) encrypt your data, and b) you can control the encryption key. I would hesitate to trust the employees at a "bargain basement" online storage company. With mozy I opted to use my own key, and I keep one copy at home, one copy in my office, and one on solid state storage in my safety deposit box at the bank.

  13. Chris what it means is one should check ones data written on hard drives at regular intervals to see if the data is still there; ie readable. The same goes for punch cards, stone tablets; cd's; dvd's etc too:)
  14. Kelly

    ok, just wasn't sure if I missed something more cryptically buried in there, sound advice actually. I wonder why we don't have systems (or perhaps its just my ignorance of their existence) which store the data using redundant systems (such as CIRC on CD's) on Hard Disk systems to overcome errors and also alert us to their starting.

    Having seen some results of corrupted JPG's I do not think its out of the question to worry about my electronic formats. I don't consider my silver based films to be anywhere near as 'fragile' (or even the more modern E-6 I have).

    I did think that the IBM 'return to punch cards' millipede project was quite interesting. I recently read (but can not find again) an article about another nano technology which involved burning down 'hairs' on a wafer to store some gigibytes onto a (say) 1cm square wafer.

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