Basic Storage and External Drive Q's

Started Jan 5, 2009 | Discussions
jaydubbs15 Contributing Member • Posts: 614
Basic Storage and External Drive Q's

I am a complete photography newbie. Bought a 40D 6 months ago and an LX3 recently. I am concerned that my computer will not be able to retain all of the photo's I am uploading over the past 6 months of my newborn son's life. I don't know the best way to safely store my photo's and that's why I'm writing this post.

I have an 8 year old Dell Dimension XPS (Pentium III 256K, 128 MB RAM, 20.4 GB Ultra ATA hard-drive, 12X Max DVD-ROM (read only.))

What are the basics for secure photo storage?

I assume burning the photo's onto CD's/DVD's is in order, which would require a CD/DVD burner. A Dell rep offered to sell me a SONY read & write external USB DVD drive (5X DVD RAM, 8X DVD ROM), high speed USB power-burning for $92. Is that a good model and price and is that what I need?

I also assume that I should choose a web-based photo storage site, like Smugmug.

Should I consider doing anything else? Any assistance would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!

Jay

ojohn Senior Member • Posts: 1,137
Re: Basic Storage and External Drive Q's

The simplest way is to use TWO external USB drives. Keep complete copies of everything on both.

The free program TeraCopy will copy whole directories, and ask if you wish to skip or overwrite files that already exist. Skip is fine.

You can copy your new pictures to one drive, then manually start TeraCopy to copy the whole photo images directory over, skipping older files that already were copied over.

But keep TWO complete copies of everything on hard drives, you really, really, don't want to lose anything.

DVDRs or CDRs cannot be trusted to be readable after a few years.

A hard drive WILL fail sometime. With two USB hard drives, WHEN one fails, just get another and copy everything over again to keep two full copies.

This is essentially what I do or how I started.

OP jaydubbs15 Contributing Member • Posts: 614
Re: Basic Storage and External Drive Q's

Thank you for your response. I'm not the most computer savvy person so please bear withh me. So your advice is to buy a stand-alone hard drive, and keep my photo's on my existing hard drive and then copy them to the second hard drive as well, correct?

Do I have enough memory on my first hard drive to sustain me? How much memory should I get for the second hard drive? Which stand-alone hard drive should I buy?

Do you also suggest that I burn the photo's on DVD's/CD's as well or do you feel that that would be a waste of time? Do you think my computer is sufficient to handle all of this?

Thank you for your help.

Jay

ojohn Senior Member • Posts: 1,137
Re: Basic Storage and External Drive Q's

As long as you are satisifed with your computer, you could start with an external USB drive, keeping your pics on that external drive and on the drive in your machine.

With only a 20gb drive in your machine, you might rapidly fill that.

So I believe in just getting things over with, I'd recommend getting two 500gb external USB drives now. They're under $100 each now. No particular recommendation, but the Western Digital MyBook Essential 500gb is easy to find, is OK enough, and is a recognizable standard item in this computer world, and 500gb capacity is about the best bang per buck (including standard reliability) right now.

I do not trust DVD-Rs for long term storage. For a year or two or giving copies to others, maybe. You cannot count on them being readable in five years and you can count on them failing after 10 years.

Hard drives also fail, ALWAYS. It seems you've had good luck with your 20gb in that machine but that is an exception, depending how much you've been using your computer. With regular daily use for hours, a consumer grade hard drive usually fails in around 3 or 4 years on average, meaning it could last just one year or 6-7 years. The odd story about a hard drive lasting longer is true but such stories are the exceptions proving the rule.

If you keep two copies of your irreplaceable pics on two drives, when one fails you can buy another, copy the good drive to the new drive, and you'll always be secure with a safety copy.

Murphy's Law applies here. If you have just one copy of important items on one drive and no backup, the drive will fail sooner than expected. If you keep a safety copy, your drives will last longer.

With USB drives, you can take the whole drive to any other computer (and your new computer, if you get one) and access your pics.

If you're handy with just a small Phillips screwdriver, (and your computer is a desktop, not a laptop or ntoebook), you can easily replace your internal DVD-ROM drive with an internal DVD-R/DVD+R drive. They're under $50, and it will simply replace your DVD-ROM drive in place, and Windows should set it up automatically or lead you onscreen through any steps you need to do. After you open your case (fully unplugged of course) it's just a matter of two (maybe four) screws and two cables, it's very easy to replace. This would be just to make copies to send to friends or whatever, or attempting a "third" (and slow and frustrating) backup if you really want to.

jaydubbs15 wrote:

Thank you for your response. I'm not the most computer savvy person
so please bear withh me. So your advice is to buy a stand-alone hard
drive, and keep my photo's on my existing hard drive and then copy
them to the second hard drive as well, correct?

You could start that way, but I would jump right to using two stand-alone USB drives, because your original drive is considered pretty small these days.

OP jaydubbs15 Contributing Member • Posts: 614
Re: Basic Storage and External Drive Q's

Thank you ojohn! That was very helpful! If I were to purchase a new computer, what specs and manu.s would you recommend?

Jay

Charles Self Senior Member • Posts: 2,012
Re: Basic Storage and External Drive Q's

jaydubbs15 wrote:

Thank you ojohn! That was very helpful! If I were to purchase a new
computer, what specs and manu.s would you recommend?

You're opening a big can of worms with those questions. Much depends on your computer use.

I'm working up to a new Dell (probably) later this year (my current Dell 8300 is now pushing the 6 year mark), but you almost certainly don't want what I want. Much cheaper works for many people. I'm waiting for the new 64 bit machines to stabilize in retail price a bit, then will aim for dual 750GB hard drives, 6-8GB RAM, a half gig video board (or transfer the one I already have if the motherboard will accept it), a DVD/CD burner--maybe two, a good built-in card reader. Largest power supply I can find for later additions. With no monitor, I see prices now near $2,000 for that machine, or one near it.

If you plan to process and print your own photos, though, a faster machine with more storage is a good thing to consider.

Think a minimum of 500GB hard drive, 3GB of RAM. The monitor becomes a point to consider too when doing much work with photos. I'm currently using Dell's 2408WFP (I hope that's right: top of the line 24"), but that can be a near $700 addition. Most people go considerably smaller, but from past experience I'd say 20" is a good minimum. Graphics card with sufficient power and features to drive that good monitor. DVD/CD burner is virtually a need, as is a card reader. Minimum six USB ports. Minimum 400 watt power supply...450 is better. You should be able to do all that for under $1,000 if you have a decent monitor already.

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OP jaydubbs15 Contributing Member • Posts: 614
Re: Basic Storage and External Drive Q's

Thank you Charlie! That was very helpful!

Jay

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