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Choosing Digital Photo Storage

Digital Picture Storage Solutions For Creating A Reliable Image Library
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Space—the final frontier or a simple necessity? Because digital imaging has picked up speed in the past few years, the need for extensive amounts of digital storage space has intensified. Replacing the temperature-controlled closets that film shooters used to store processed film is now the hard drive library.

Aside from storing your images, data backup has become essential. Having only one copy of your files on one hard drive is a problem in waiting. What if that drive crashes and you can’t retrieve the files? Your work is important and leaving chance up to the computer gods could lead to the loss of one-of-a-kind pictures. Back up, back up, back up! Did I mention that you should back up?

External Hard Drive

A hard drive is the primary digital photo storage medium located inside your computer. An external hard drive is convenient be-cause it can plug into your computer and instantly provide the extra backup and storage space you need. Many of these external devices are small and light enough for travel, and are capable of being plugged into any computer.

Known as RAID (Redundant Array of Independent Disks), this technology allows multiple hard drives to be linked together to create the effect of a single drive. RAID can increase your system’s performance and enable automatic backup of your information.

There are a number of levels of RAID. The three most common setups are:

RAID 0: Two hard drives process the same data in order to increase performance.
RAID 1: Two drives work together; data from one hard drive is automatically backed up to the other.
RAID 0/1: Four drives merge RAID 0 and RAID 1 features for increased performance as well as automatic backup.
Check to see if your computer can support RAID before investing in multiple drives.

Common hard drive capacities today are in the 160 GB up to 500 GB range and are reasonably priced. This makes protecting your data affordable. Even if you choose a mere 80 GB drive, you’ll still be able to load a lot of large-sized images. If you have files sizes that are around 15 MB each, for example, you’ll be able to fit roughly 4,500 images on that size drive.

The latest capacity craze is the terabyte or half-terabyte drive. A terabyte is 1,000 GB worth of space (a half-terabyte is 500 GB) and is commonly split up among four (or two) 250 GB hard drives that are connected and work in conjunction with one another (see the RAID sidebar).

cross fireFast Access. RPM (revolutions per minute) is a measurement of how many revolutions a hard disk drive makes in one minute. The higher the RPM, the faster that data can be accessed. A typical RPM in hard drive models used to be 5400, but because of today’s larger files, especially with those images shot in RAW, 7200 is becoming more common.

There’s a noticeable time difference between the two speeds when accessing and downloading large files, so if you aren’t a patient person, look for a drive with an RPM speed of 7200. Also, this faster hard drive speed is important if you’re working with video.