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External Drive for Photo Storage?

Dominick Marino , Aug 21, 2012; 02:56 a.m.

OK, it’s time to bite the bullet. I just read Rob Sheppard’s article about organizing Lightroom in the August issue of Outdoor Photographer. I have way too many photos! And I know I need help. That’s the first step, right?
Following Rob’s advice, I decided to put my photos on a separate hard drive while keeping my OS and programs on another. My first question was, “how do I tell my catalog where to find the new location of the photos, AND not lose my settings?” I searched the PN forums and found this link from Adobe about optimizing Lightroom. http://helpx.adobe.com/lightroom/kb/optimize-performance lightroom.html#main_Optimize_your_hardware_and_OS
This seemed to conflict with Rob’s advice as Adobe says using an external drive “can negatively affect Lightroom performance” unless used with USB 3.0 or Firewire. I understand the benefits when accessing an external drive by more than one computer.
Which setup do you use? External drive? System disk? USB 2.0, 3.0, eSATA, or Firewire? I appreciate any and all input on this before I start my belated “spring cleaning”. And if I move my photos to an external drive I will need to know how to tell the catalog where they went.
I currently use the external drives to copy everything.
Thanks for your input. Aloha.

Responses

Peter Cohen , Aug 21, 2012; 04:15 a.m.

Peter Cohen , Aug 21, 2012; 04:16 a.m.

In response to your question about setup, I use a separate internal drive for pictures. That backs up daily to an external drive that's a mirror image of the internal drive. I also back up to a cloud service. My LR catalog is on the drive with the pictures, and the backup of the catalog goes to the same drive. My C drive is used for Windows and apps, and it's an SSD. It will launch and load LR in about 4 seconds with 143,000 images in my catalog. All my external drives are 1TB or more and USB 3.0. Once they're awake, they are very fast.

Eric ~ , Aug 21, 2012; 11:12 a.m.

Use a second internal hard drive and avoid having your main library of photos on an external.

Rob Bernhard , Aug 21, 2012; 11:44 a.m.

Unless you don't have room in the case, another internal drive makes the most sense. Otherwise an external eSATA drive would be my next choice.

JDM von Weinberg , Aug 21, 2012; 01:28 p.m.

People with laptops, all-in-one (iMacs, others), or "Mini"s can get along fine with external storage, which is just as well, since there's really no choice. Tower computers have room for lots of drives, and that is surely the best place for additional storage, if you do have the room.
I personally use an external 500GB drive as the main image storage location, with a 1TB drive as a back up, with another 1TB drive as a second back up. The one palpable advantage of the externals is that they can easily be hooked up to any of your various computers.

Back in the days of terminals, I was always in the "one user, one computer" school, but now I have found myself in the "one user, four computers" school, and that doesn't count the ones that are not hooked up. :(

Mendel Leisk , Aug 21, 2012; 03:33 p.m.

My main back up is a second internal drive. Very fast, and I believe less failure prone than external drives. Obvioiusly less portable. Use that for anything and everything: basically got two drives of the same capacity when purchasing the system. I use Windows RoboCopy to keep the two drives synchronized. And for irreplacable image files, I save the Raw files to double DVD backup as well, whenever I got enough to fill several disks.

Geoff Sobering , Aug 21, 2012; 04:38 p.m.

If your computer is a desktop you can have the "best of both worlds" with something like this:
http://www.amazon.com/dp/B0047BTX4W/ref=pe_175190_21431760_C1_cs_sce_dp_1
It allows you to plug-in bare 3.5" SATA drives (and even hot-swap if your hardware and OS support it).
There are models from 1 to 3+ so even if you have only one 5 1/4" bay you can make it work.
I choose the 3-slot version so I could have my primary backup on-line all the time, my secondary backup installed most of the time, and either my tertiary backup or a "working" disk in the computer at one time.

If you have a laptop you can make it work, but it's less convenient. I have an external 7200 rpm ESATA drive that I plug into my laptop when I'm working on a lot of photos (the internal disk is just 5400 rpm and I'm too lazy to replace it). For backups the speed slow-down with USB 3 is probably pretty small, but if you're interested in the best then a 6 GB/s ESATA port and fast drive are the way to go. FWIW, I use two self-powered 500 GB USB 3 drives for my "on the road" backups they are fast enough.

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