Photo Storage Organization

My hard drive is not huge so I like to keep it clean and tidy. Accordingly, I keep my photos and LR catalog on an external hard drive (EHD), music on a different EHD, Time Machine on yet another EHD and lets not forget the additional external backup photo drive! Get the picture? I have so many external drives I almost can’t keep my desktop, phone, desk lamp and up my “to do” items on my desk. There’s got to be another, better, way to easily store and access all this information. Any storage/organizational suggestions?

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I am personally a big fan of hard drive arrays configured with RAID or simply partitioning a very large hard drive to do multiple things.

A drive can be partitioned very easily and can then be used for multiple purposes. For example an 8TB drive could be partitioned into 2x2TB and 1x4TB for Time Machine, Music, and Photos. Obviously if this one drive dies you lose all three things, but it’s still easier than having three individual drives.

A drive array configured with RAID can be configured to give you instant redundancy and increased speed which is pretty awesome. They are pricey, but really can increase the convenience of storage. Partitioning a RAID array is also possible providing the best of both worlds.

On the complex side of the equation you could also use a Network Attached Storage (NAS) solution to make your large storage drive accessible by multiple computers easily on top of the advantages mentioned above.

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I use a LaCie hard drive it is a RAID system. One small tower that you can keep adding hard drives to. I have two 1 TB drives in my tower, works very well.

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Thank you, BIll.

I will check out your and Forest’s suggestions and see which one bests suit my needs.

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Hi there. I started educating myself on your suggested options. I must admit in my search for knowledge and practical information it didn’t take me long to start drowning in this pool. Some people - ostensibly knowledgeable computer professionals- actually were not as knowledgable as I hoped . That’s when I started getting confused. After doing some research online learned there were a number of contradictory articles on this topic and quickly realized I was out of my depth.

I have read that if using it as a large, faster, alternative for my computer hard drive I should not create a partition as a backup (like Time machine, Carbon Copy Cloner etc.). Is that correct? If it is a partitioned single drive it correct to assume that if there is a drive failure I loose everything on the RAID drive? Accordingly, I should still have an additional backup and a boot drive, yes?

I’ve also read that there are different types of RAID drives for different purposes (- that was when smoke started coming out of my ears). What type of drive would be appropriate for someone who is not a pro photographer although I do, periodically, shoot some documentary and event work, but mostly for my own personal projects (with a growing photo catalog).

Is it difficult to partition such a drive? After my experience at our best local computer store and reading some of the questionable articles I’ve seen online, where can I go for a knowledge source of information so I can make inappropriate, informed decision?

Bill- what dd you mean when you said you “use a LaCie hard drive and keep adding hard drive?” I had a vision of a box fix filled with “shelves” to simply insert additional drives as required. Somehow I think that is not correct, or is it?

So there you have it. More questions. More confusion. Any additional suggestions, guidance or recommended sources of information is greatly appreciated. Should I just call B & H and see what they have to say (obviously on a slow day)?

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Partitioning and RAID are two very different things. Partitioning is taking one physical drive and subdividing it into two or more virtual drives. When you plug it in to your computer, it will look and act like completely separate hard drives, but they all reside on a single piece of hardware. This is why you would not want to use the second partition to back up the first. If the physical drive failed, you would lose both.

RAID arrays are doing the opposite. You take multiple physical hard drives and combine them to look like one single drive. They give you the ability to create a drive that is bigger in size than any single physical drive can provide. They also give you an instant backup of everything should a physical drive fail. You will see different types of RAID with the most common being 0, 1, 5, and 6.

RAID 0 combines all your physical drives into one and splits your data evenly between them. This offers great speed, but if any one of the physical drives fail, you lose your data. Avoid RAID 0.

RAID 1 can be used if you have an even number of drives. Half the drives are used to store your data, the other half are used as a instant redundant backup. If one drive fails, you can keep working off the second. Once your replace the failed drive, it will be rebuilt from the second drive. RAID 1 is good if you only want to buy two drives.

RAID 5 requires three or more drives. The data is split in such a way that you still can have one physical drive fail without losing any data, but with increased read/write performance over a RAID 1 array.

RAID 6 requires four or more drives. It is similar to RAID 5 in performance, but it allows for 2 physical drives to fail at a time without any data loss.

RAID arrays require special drive bays that accept multiple physical drives. They come in Direct Attached Storage (DAS) or Network Attached Storage (NAS) forms. DAS plug in to your computer using USB or Thunderbolt and basically work the same as your existing hard drives. NAS connect to your network with no direct connection to your computer. You have to access them as if they’re a shared folder on a separate computer on your network. They won’t show up as a hard drive on your system by default. But, you can access them wirelessly and they allow for multiple users to access them at once.