Storing your images

Blind Bruce

TPF Noob!
Dec 19, 2015
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Winnipeg, Canada
Can others edit my Photos
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Digital photography is still new to me. I formerly stored my negatives together with a contact sheet in a 3 ring binder. Now, I am collecting all sorts of memory devices and I feel there is a better way.
I have some on SD cards, some on memory sticks (usb) and I am thinking of trying CDs. Most are backed up in the PC but that sounds like they could be lost by pressing a wrong key.
What is the preferred method of storage these days? I have photoshop elements but haven't figured it out yet.
I story mine on the computer hard-drive and backed up on a USB drive that is stored away from the computer. My negatives are still stored in a collection of ring binders

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CD/DVD are too slow and unreliable. The camera memory cards are reusable to take more photos and a relatively expensive choice for storage. Hard drives give you the best overall cost/access/reliability storage option with one caveat: DATA MUST BE BACKED UP!

I just bought a (Toshiba) 1T removable hard drive for an Xmas present and got it on sale for $39.00.

My practice as an example:
Photos are copied from the camera card to an internal hard drive in the computer as soon as they're taken. That internal hard drive is a 2nd drive that does not contain the OS and is dedicated to photo data storage.

I start culling photos immediately. You got to do it. Not all photos are keepers and you have to clean house -- best to do that regularly.

Within a few days new photos on that internal drive get copied to an external hard drive also dedicated to photo storage. There are now two copies of every photo.

As I process photos additional culling takes place. I periodically sync the internal and external drives. TWO COPIES ARE NOT ENOUGH! That external hard drive is on my desk with the computer. Three copies are required. I keep my laptop in a separate location. In the case with my laptop is another external hard drive. Every couple weeks the external drive in my laptop case gets brought to the desk and synced with the other two drives. Now I have three copies of everything.

That makes me comfortable but I'm retired and rarely now take photos for clients. If I were doing this professionally I'd adopt more secure standards, for example I'd use a RAID.

Using memory cards will be fairly expensive relative to the price of a hard drive. Also, they're somewhat limited in space so you'll be flipping from card to card looking for your photos.

I use an external storage array, but you can get external single USB hard drives (in an enclosure) that aren't very expensive.

Adobe Lightroom manages all the images (online and offline).
Any external hard drive will hold a lot of files. 1 TB drives are incredibly inexpensive nowdays and lesser capacities are so cheap they should be no brainers. For now, I'd say buy a drive and set your computer to do an automatic back up on a regular schedule.

It's fairly difficult to "accidentally" wipe entire files off your computer's hard drive so I wouldn't stress over an accident occurring. Do read up on file management in Elements and learn how to separate your files into groups. You'll then have another back up and less chance of losing entire groups of images.

Fortunately (or unfortunately depending on your viewpoint), your work and education doesn't stop at the digital camera.
CDs? Dvds? Ha! I don't even have one of those drives anymore.

I have dual internal 2tb 6g sata drives, one is my main drive where my photos are stored and the second drive is exact copy of that first drive (mirrored). These two drives store all my data, photos, videos, music, docs. I have a third external drive where I just backup my photos, videos and docs. If I lose my music, it's not a big deal to me. This system seems to be working very well for me.

I use Lightroom CC to organize and process all my photos. I suggest you just use a simple date folder structure to organize your photos and keyword & rate you photos and then create collections for your best shots from a particular shoot or event. I know it seems like a lot of work and I'm still working on it myself, but its well worth it.

I have a recent post about this, check it out. Lightroom Organizing Disaster...Need Suggestions | Photography Forum

I hope this helps!
I use the following:

1) I have a 2Terrabyte hardrive (2TB) inside the computer dedicated to photos online. I store photos by year and then event/download in folders within that harddrive.

2) I copy over photos from my memory cards into the harddrive. I then keep the photos on the memorycards until I head out again to take photos on a trip - I then format the cards inside the camera. Note this gives me a short term back-up on the cards in case something goes wrong in the early stages.

3) The 2TB harddrive is backed up (data copied) every so often to an external 2TB hardrive.

For me this approach allows a level of backing up and storage of data that is economic to a hobbyist; its simple to setup and fairly affordable. You could also use two external harddrives instead of one internal if you don't have room in the PC/skills to fit a new drive. It has weaknesses - a RAID approach would be superior as would an offsite backup - however its a very workable solution that is cheaply scaled up (buying another hard drive) as needed.

In general with digital data the best approach is to have multiple back-ups so that if one fails you've got another. The other aspect is to consider off-site back-up (as basic as storing a back up hard drive at the office) in case of theft/fire/flood at one site.
More complex setups offer more protection at higher cost so its a case of matching your needs against your finances.

Note you might also consider prints as another storage method which avoids weaknesses of digital - certainly for your best shots a selection of prints is one way to preserve them
I basically only shoot sports (although not quite true) so my arrangement may not suit.
All my current documents, photos (from the current season of sports), email etc are on one drive in my desktop tower.
After each shoot, I synchronise that to two separate external drives that I keep in my office.
Usually each fortnight, I synchronise that drive to an external drive that is kept off site - so I would lose a fortnight's worth of photos if my house burned down. If my whole town is destroyed, I would lose it all.

At the end of a season I copy the photos of that sport and that season to three external hard drives (one of which is kept off-site). Check to see that copy has been successful and then delete those from my desktop internal hard drive. (the next time I synch to my three document/photos hard drives, they will get removed from them - so only the current work is on those three hard drives)

I do the same with video files and with "Past photos" (which is essentially my NON-sports photos)

All up I have about 12 external drives:
one set of three for current documents and sports
two sets of three for past sports (filled up my original 1TB drives, so I bought a set of three 2TB drives)
one set of three for video

I only ever format CF memory cards when I put it into the camera on a shoot - so there is some latency if the drives suffer.

Works for me because I'm organised and disciplined - it is certainly not a set and forget system.
I've got an internal RAID 1 array I work off of, then backed up to one internal HDD, one external HDD, and one external RAID 1 (Soon to be 5) array.
The METHOD of filing is as important as storage. Since 1958 (that's right) my negs were kept in ring binders each roll of film being numbered on each as roll 1, roll 2 etc. and writing in my photo albums, that number at the end of each roll of printed film.

When I went digital I did not trust computer storage and still do not. So I continued using the number system, contact sheets, ring binder. The difference is that the number on each "roll" (I still use that word) will be any number I want, no longer 36 or 24 and usually up to 50 or so pics, or after a particular event, say a party, or up to a particular date.

So, I have a folder on my hard drive, each folder will typically say, Photos 56, My Party, July 2014. The next batch, will say, Photos 57, Biking and Misc. November 2015 andso on. They will be in chronological order.

Now storage. They are on the hard drive permanently and copied to two different Portable hard Drives periodically.
I feel safe, but Ysarex above say two not enough. I should listen to him if I were you, I am going to now.

Happy New year to all of you.
I still shoot film and store negatives much like already described. If I'm shooting with my digital camera I usually download each series of photos to the computer every time I've been out taking pictures - I save and label the folder by month/year (unless there's a reason I may want the exact date) and by what/where I was shooting.

I save the media cards as-is (only have a handful). I delete anything that was a missed shot etc. I label/name specific images that I'm going to use in some way, others I leave numbered. I save copies of those folders to an external hard drive.

My camera is DNG so automatically produces JPEGs along with the Raw images. I've started deleting some of those JPEGS since I find I rarely use them. If I need a Raw image as a JPEG I'll save a copy as a JPEG, or if I do some adjusting I'll save the PSD copies as well as a JPEG of each.

I usually print 4x6s of some photos from each series. Anything that's particularly significant I'll print an 8x10 or maybe an 8 1/2x11 (usually 2-3 prints of each).

So if my computer and external hard drive would ever implode or go kaflooey at the same time and I'd lose both sets of images, I still have the media cards of everything and prints of significant photos.
In general, good data backup includes two elements:

Local backup: Burning DVDs, an external drive, etc. Lots of good ideas above, and there are options that will automatically back up your whole hard drive to an external disk without you having to do anything once they're set up.

Remote backup: Having backups at home is all well and good, but if someone breaks into your house, there's a fire, flood, etc., it may not matter how many copies you have, you could lose them all. This has also gotten a lot easier and less expensive, and there are many services that will automatically back up specific folders or your entire hard drive for a small fee (Backblaze, for example, is $5/month to back up your entire hard drive and external drives you keep connected, no matter how big, and there are probably a dozen other good options). Some people accomplish this by leaving spare copies at work or with friends, though there's something to be said for having the data on servers that are nowhere near you. This is typically a little more complicated to recover if something happens to your local data, but if someone steals your computer and hard drives, you'll be very grateful to have it.

If you're just starting out, the easiest thing is probably to just back up everything on your computer two ways (local and remote), which will include your photos. If you start shooting a lot and/or doing this professionally, you may get to the point where you have so many photos you need to do something photo-specific, but that typically gets more complicated.
I know I may only be new to the photography scene, however being in IT I can still share my methods!
I have my lightoom install on my main desktop PC - this is where I initially copy all the files to and work with.
Will run a second automatic backup on my server (same house, just in case a hard drive dies) that runs each night looking for new files.
Once I have a little bit of information RE: How much damn space ill end up using I will invest in a cloud storage solution for my off-site backup - I am waiting as I do have 20GB on the Nikon Image Space which could suffice for now I suspect!
I transfer to the computer first. Then everything is backed up on my local server (yes my hubs is a tech guy). We have I think 13 TB of storage set up with failsafes to prevent loss of data if one drive fails. We also keep all music and our movies electronically here, thats why we have so much space. (and IT people forgive me for a probably horrible description of what hubs set up. He used words I don't remember. lol)

Additionally, we regularly back up pictures and home video to cloud storage. If something happened and the house burned, I wouldn't lose more than I have on my camera typically.

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