How Much Space to Leave on an Archive Hard Drive?

Discussion in 'Digital Darkroom' started by picturesque, Jan 28, 2011.

  1. Can anyone tell me how much space to leave on a hard drive one is using to archive/store digital images only? I've read 10-15% for hard drives to be used 'normally', in other words, to be read from and written to as part of one's workflow, but I haven't found anything about drives used only to store image files.
  2. Nadine:
    If you're not going to write any more files, I see no reason why you shouldn't fill it as full as it will go.
  3. OK, thanks. I just wondered if there were any other factors to consider.
  4. I use most of it, usually six months I switch. I don't worry about leaving some free space, that's mostly in my head! I switch based on time, such as 6 months rather than use it until full.
    I use these types of external hard drives:
    Hope you have more than one backup!
    Have a terrific 2011.
  5. Yes, I do. Thanks, William. Have a terrific 2011 yourself.
  6. On my 2005 Windows XP home system with an 80 GB internal hard drive, I've gotten down to about 2.5 GB free (97% full), and maybe it was a little slower, but no major problems. I would think that a non-boot volume, I'd think you could go 99%+. But big external hard drives are so cheap, I can't see any reason to push it. My 500 GB USB external is only about a third full, but a new version with 2 TB would only run about $130.
  7. I've been wondering about this lately, too. I have one drive that contains a copy of every (personal) camera file I create in the original NEF Nikon format. That's all that's on the drive. All working files, live and local, are DNGs that are backed up to two other locations, with their modifications.
    The drive in question is a 500GB (465G actual) that now has 43.6 remaining. 2010's total contribution was only 121 GB. Commercial work is backed up else where. By my reckoning, that 43.6 should last another 3 or 4 months. I have a 1.5T ready to go in that bay... the question is... replace it now? or in another 30GB?... t
  8. Hi Tom.
    I change hard drives based on time period rather than how much space used/left. It's easier for me to file them say in 6 month intervals rather than having 1 and 1/2 years on one, 1 and 1/4 years on another, mixed up like that.
    External hard drives are pretty inexpensive now, therefore I feel I can file based on time rather than filling it up. It just makes it easier to find something this way.
    Hope this helps you.
  9. rnt


    In addition to the other fine answers, If you're going to use a single drive, make sure there's enough room for two full backups so you don't need to delete one before the other is on the disk.
    Personally, I have two 2Tb external USB drives that I keep at work. Once a month I bring one home (alternating every other month) and make a full backup of my system (~1Tb). Then I take the drive back to work. This way I have two backup drives, so if my system dies/is struck by lightening while in the midst of a backup I have the other backup at work.
    If I were photographing weddings or other by-gosh-it-better-NOT-get-lost subjects I'd probably look into some sort of online backup solution for daily/hourly backups as well as weekly/monthly full backups.
    Of course, I've been a system administrator as well as a photographer for many years, and I can tell you that the drive you have your life's work on WILL die in a nonrecoverable way at some point. BTW, I tell Grad students to keep their thesis work in three or more places, preferably one of which is out of the country. And not to depend on anyone else to take care of backups (although I'm very careful about backing up their systems as well).
  10. On drives only storing files, there's no problem with using it up to 100%. The closer you get to limit the more fragmentation will occur, but as this is a storage drive it's not an issue.
    Like Bob said, all drives will fail, it's just a matter of when. I used to work doing university tech support and it's unbelievable how many graduate students would come in with only a 1.44MB corrupted floppy with their semester's worth of work.
    Keep a backup and an offsite backup of your photos. Storage is cheap, photos and memories are not.
  11. Thanks for all the good answers, everyone.
  12. William T. Good advice. I use carbonite. My main HD failed. I had everything back from off site and was up and running in about five days.
  13. Well, just to be a nay sayer, I've had problems with drives filled more than 85 % or so mounting on a Mac. When I moved some, it worked fine. For me, I would always leave a little space and yes, multiple backups, especially for someone like you Nadine with so many "bread and butter" images to keep.
  14. regarding time vs capacity, that might be relevant if actual spin time were equal. But my archive drive, which is used only at download and only holds duplicates as they came from the camera, sees a lot less spin time that the DNG drive, which is accessed almost continually 3 to 7 days a week, 8-12 hours per day. Still, I get your point... it's like a brake job, the system is only as good as it's weakest point, and one weak drive compromises all your DAM decisions... t

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