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storing RAW (big picture) files?

 
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Now that I'm shooting RAW, I've been thinking about storage.  My computer is pretty good but eventually, it will fill up.  I would like to do something about it before it does.  

I've been thinking about external image storage.  Cloud was an option, but I don't like the subscription model and I know some university people who research how hackable clouds are (conclusion: very).

So, I'm thinking about an external hard drive.  Something like my regular weekly backup drive, only this one I would shuffle over my archived image files every few months.  Dedicated image drive.

The last time I bought an external hardrive, 1MB was huge.  But now there's a lot more to hard drives than back then.  

Static vs disc?
what size?
usb 2 or 3?

What else do I need to think about?
 
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How about "none of the above?"  My side job is freelance graphics, mostly commercial stuff like product data sheets, marketing stuff, short training videos for small manufacturers in my industry.  I use Adobe Creative Cloud which is a wicked good deal if you use it a lot.  Adobe CC membership also gives you a really large 100 gig storage.  I make enough by freelance that it pays for the $29.99/month account, which includes every Adobe application.  

I also use MS OneDrive.  A free account gives you another email address and 5GB free storage.  You can get 100GB for only $1.99 a month.  I have the Personal account plan which is $70 a year, that's 1TB.  

A 1tb static drive at Wallyworld is less than $50, but if you're always working on different platforms in a lot of different places (I use two desktop stations, a laptop, a tablet, and a phone), then the Adobe CC/OneDrive really comes in handy.  Unless Microsoft burns the ground, I'll never lose my work.  When you're logged on and working in any MS app, your work is continuously saved, you're never more than a few keystrokes behind the save. Sending secure OneDrive and ACC links is a LOT easier than trying to send whole files, especially RAWs. Same with ACC, just send the link.   I just checked my storage; with everything I keep in OneDrive, I'm using about 350GB of my 1TB plan.  I have backups from computers I had 15 years ago.  I'll probably increase that this year with some new accounts and more video work, but I'll be dead before I bottom it out.  

Edit: Went to OD and checked, I currently have 1,195 Photoshop RAW files for a total of 29.9GB of memory.

I know a lot of Permies are on strict/limited budgets, so am I, but the side work pays for it and covers my photography addiction.  

Hope this helps.
 
pollinator
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Not that tech savvy, but I will offer the following examples and hope others weigh in.  My wife who's he shutterbug stores all of video and photos on our computer hard drive (Solid state) with back up to an external Western Digital USB drive.  I use Kingston flash drives for most work-related documents, but only because I know that all of those documents are backed up through 'cloud' and local storage options.

Looks like Western Digital is still 'in the biz' and has some reasonable storage options.....  https://shop.westerndigital.com/products/external-drives/wd-my-book-usb-3-0-hdd#WDBBGB0030HBK-NESN

3 Terabytes as a low-end option is a lot of storage for $89.99 USD!  Funny thing is that I cannot tell from the spec sheets whether or not it is a solid state drive (no spinning disc) or more 'legacy' hard drive technology.  Are all hard drives solid state now?  Looks like the one shown will do both USB 2.0 and USB 3.0 automatically,.....if your computer has USB 3.0, that would be the faster file transfer rate platform.
 
r ranson
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I'm not going to go with cloud storage for a few reasons.  The biggest being personal preference.  

But the "1tb static drive at Wallyworld is less than $50" sounds interesting.  I don't know if it's big enough.  I'm taking between 1 and 4 hundred photos a day, keeping about 20% in raw plus the JPEG of the edited file.  Most of the raw files are between 35 and 40 mb... and then my brain fizzels out trying to do the math.  I would like five to ten years worth of storage, how big a drive do I need?
 
Eric Thomas
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See my edit to my OP.  About 1200 RAW CR2 files on my OneDrive = about 30GB of memory.

 
r ranson
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I did some rough calculations using this site.  It looks like I need between 0.3 to 0.5 Terabytes a year at my current usage.
 
Eric Thomas
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4 TB WD static drive   Hard deal to beat...

I used to use all static storage for long term archiving before cloud storage became affordable.  Keep in mind that even static memory can fail, get lost, stolen, burned, fill-in-disaster-here.  If your work is valuable, and I'm sure yours is, you need to protect it.  
 
r ranson
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Are static better?

I remember in high school, we could take the disk out of the old hard drive and copy the data over to a new one if when the motor failed.  
 
Eric Thomas
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Zero moving parts.  My bet it yes, static is better.  Probably a lot more durable if you have to tote it around in a briefcase and such.  I replaced the HD in my graphics workstation with one about a year ago, they're a lot faster too.  I bought a Samsung model that came with it's own downloadable data transfer app that made setting it up pretty brainless, which suits me well for some reason...
 
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Redundancy is your friend, when it comes to storage, because there really is no guarantee. I use a combination of cloud, flash drives, and EHDs. The more work I've put in/the more valuable a shot seems, the more likely it will be in all of the places. Cull as much as possible, saving only the shots with the most potential, whether for income or for personal use.
 
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Eric Thomas wrote:Zero moving parts.  My bet it yes, static is better.  Probably a lot more durable if you have to tote it around in a briefcase and such.  I replaced the HD in my graphics workstation with one about a year ago, they're a lot faster too.  I bought a Samsung model that came with it's own downloadable data transfer app that made setting it up pretty brainless, which suits me well for some reason...



I assume you mean Solid State Disks. Yes, they are neat, but quite expensive. (120€ for 1TB SSD, 90€ for 4TB hard disk, so 5x as expensive.)
For me hard disks are the winner for the next 10 years or so unless it is in a laptop. There the silent SSDs are quite nice (and faster). And a full size hard disk is still smaller and lighter than my camera with lens…

r ranson wrote: I remember in high school, we could take the disk out of the old hard drive and copy the data over to a new one if when the motor failed.  


For the current disks you need a clean-room (absolutely zero dust) to open them. Otherwise a dust particle can get between the disk and the head and ruin it.

R Ranson, assuming 0.4TB/year, one 4TB Disk would last you 10 years… I think that is pretty good?

Last edit:
My current workflow is: Pictures are copied from the SD card to my laptops SSD. At the end of the year I copy the years worth of photos to my external disk and delete a previous year of photos on the laptop. (But I take far less photos, so they only take up a 100GB or so)
 
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Eric Thomas wrote:Zero moving parts.  My bet it yes, static is better.  Probably a lot more durable if you have to tote it around in a briefcase and such.  I replaced the HD in my graphics workstation with one about a year ago, they're a lot faster too.  I bought a Samsung model that came with it's own downloadable data transfer app that made setting it up pretty brainless, which suits me well for some reason...



The linked drive is not a solid state drive(SSD), which is what would have zero moving parts. It is a hard disk drive(HDD). Specifically, it seems to be a HDD that they are describing poorly, in hopes people will think it is an SSD; hence, no RPM is listed..

A solid state drive does indeed have the advantage of no moving parts, but will cost more. There are a lot of variations in life expectancy depending on the type of memory used. Reliability also varies heavily based on the controller; my knowledge is several years out of date so can't reccomend any particular unit.

A good SSD is much faster than a good HDD, but a crappy SSD may be little faster than a good HDD.



What connectivity option does your computer have?


For a drive that will serve as backup, and usually not be powered up, a decent harddrive should be fine.

For a drive that you are using to edit large files, and which is always on when your system is in use, an SSD would be better.
 
Eric Thomas
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They all die eventually.  Back up early and often
 
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My pc has USB 2, but I'm thinking of taking it to the shop in a few months/years and getting a USB 3 port installed it it proves be good.

I might get a faster graphic card at that time as mine is struggling.
 
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If you've only got usb2 you'll probably need to change out the entire motherboard when you want a new graphics card (if you want even a semi decent one) yes they are totally unconnected but usb2 tells me that your computer is old (10 years +) which means newer graphics card/processors and RAM will not fit onto that board.

Back to your question, buy two 4TB HDDs back up onto one and store them in SEPARATE places remember to back up often, there's no point having a backup that lives under your computer, if fire or flood comes you want one backup in a different physical location to protect it.
 
r ranson
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I just checked and the computer does have 6 USB3 ports and 4 USB2 because all my gadgets are still USB2.  
 
Skandi Rogers
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r ranson wrote:I just checked and the computer does have 6 USB3 ports and 4 USB2 because all my gadgets are still USB2.  



USB3 is backwards compatible with 2 so you can plug them in-wherever you like.
 
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As has been mentioned, redundancy is important. One set of copies on your hard drive, or just the ones you plan to work with. One set on an external hard drive that you keep at least in a separate room. Keep in mind that if you use Microsoft and would get hit with a RansomWare infection, any hard drive permanently connected to the infected device will be encrypted and probably lost. Keep your backup devices unhooked from your computer unless you are performing a backup. A third set on another external drive that's kept in another location such as a safety deposit box in your bank. Most banks offer safety deposit boxes for free or low cost to customers. If you fill one external hard drive, just buy another. If your home would burn, you have one outside reserve. If you would happen to get hit with a powerful electrical surge, you would have two reserves as long as you're hooked up only when backing up. If you would get hit with RansomWare you don't want to perform backups to both targets on the same day.
If you would decide on cloud storage consider that several services don't support the RAW file format. They also may charge for bandwidth for the huge RAW files to both upload and download on top of basic storage. Check their fine print.
There are advantages to keeping the RAW file format, but you might consider converting to a compressed file format such as TIFF or DNG using lossless compression. RAW files can be ZIP compressed as well. It's amazing how much information is lost converting to JPEG, even with so-called lossless compression, so stay away from the JPEG format.
Another very important issue is compatibility for the future. A lot of companies such as Microsoft reduce, restrict and even void backwards compatibility in their software. For example, a nephew had floppies of his mother's poems from years ago. He tried to open them after moving up to Windows 7 or 8 and discovered nothing that Microsoft had 'advanced' to would open the older document formats. In a panic he called me to find out if there was anything he could do and I recommended LibreOffice, which filled the bill. He could open the old document files and re-save them in a newer format. He kept the older format which he can still open with LO, plus he has the modernized files which now open in Microsoft, for now at least! I'm an OpenSource fan, including Linux. Most, though not all OpenSource projects preserve backwards compatibility, so the future of the RAW file format seems pretty solid and dependable. If you do run into trouble in the future with compatibility, remember the OpenSource community and Linux.
 
r ranson
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Redundancy is good.

There's not much on my computer I would be sad to lose.  I do a backup weekly because its a good habit to be in.  But I would be sad if my photos or music went.  So I'm thinking of an external hard drive that I would load the images on once every 6 months or so.  It would probably be stored at a safe location away from home.  So something not too big.

One of the things I'm not liking about these backup hard drives is all the software that comes with it.  I already have a backup software I'm happy with and I don't want crap automatically installed on my PC.  I just want an external memory that I can manage like an extra storage space.  
 
D Nikolls
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r ranson wrote:Redundancy is good.

There's not much on my computer I would be sad to lose.  I do a backup weekly because its a good habit to be in.  But I would be sad if my photos or music went.  So I'm thinking of an external hard drive that I would load the images on once every 6 months or so.  It would probably be stored at a safe location away from home.  So something not too big.

One of the things I'm not liking about these backup hard drives is all the software that comes with it.  I already have a backup software I'm happy with and I don't want crap automatically installed on my PC.  I just want an external memory that I can manage like an extra storage space.  



As a general rule there should be no issue discarding the crap that comes with the new drive and sticking with what you have.
 
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Data storage can be a rabbit hole of learning. I use FreeBSD on my NAS with ZFS. There are some good deals on hard drives if you keep your eyes open. I'm shucking these and adding them to my setup.

8TB Drives

A NAS is a valuable thing these days with all of the digital content we have and building one is not as hard as you imagine. There are no good shortcuts, you get what you pay for. Bit-rot and drive failure are a when not if. You could have a really good setup that fits your needs for $400 or less. If you want to give it a shot, I'll help you.
 
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