When it comes to storing your photos digitally there are so many options out there it can get confusing. Things like, how many back-ups do you need? Where do you store your back-ups? What are the best types of storage? How much will it cost you? All these things can make it hard to find the right solution for storing your photos.
The Questions and the Answers to Photography Storage
Question: How many back-ups do you need?
Answer: You should have three back-ups of your images and files.
Question: Where should you store these three back-ups?
Back-up 1: This is your working drive (the one you access the most). This should be the drive you use to access your files and to work off of. This drive should travel with you or be stored in your work environment. You can also use a NAS drive or cloud based storage for this. Note with cloud storage you have to keep downloading your files to access them. With most NAS devices such as the WD MyCloud you can map these as a drive on your computer for easy and quick access.
Back-up 2: This should be the offsite back up of your files. This needs to be stored in a secure place outside of your main working environment or home. For example outside of your house maybe in your office or at a family members house if you use a physical storage device (this needs to be temperature controlled). You can also use a web based cloud storage for this backup.
Back-up 3: This option should be a cloud based storage or NAS drive. This option allows you to access your files anywhere you have access to internet. A cloud will store your images off site and keep them accessible. With a NAS drive you can also set this up on or offsite.
Question: What type of storage device should I use.
Answer: There are many different types of devices you can use to store your images. Here is a list of storage devices that works well for storing photos.
- Computer or Laptop – You can store your images on your computer or your laptop. However if you are anything like me you have a pretty decent size image library and this can max out your storage space on these devices quickly. This also makes it so you need to have the images on each device to access them from different devices.
- Flash Drives – With the larger capacity now a days (e.g. 128gb) you can store a decent size image gallery on these drives. Flash drives are also easy to transport and store.
- External Hard Drives – External hard drives have become much more affordable, smaller in physical size and much larger in storage space. A 1tb+ drive will meet almost everyone’s storage needs for their photo libraries and back-ups.
- NAS Drives – These are basically personal clouds that can be access from anywhere you have an internet connection. These drives work well for a working drive so you can easily share files between different computers and project collaborators.
- Cloud Storage – A cloud can be great for photo storage as it is off-site but you can still access it as you need to. However one of the downfalls of this type of storage is it can become costly if you need more than a few gigs of space to store your collection.
Question: How much will it cost me to store my photos?
Answer: The cost depends on how much data you have to store and where you store it. Here are some examples of cost.
- Flash Drive – $15.00 to $120.00 Depending on the size and speed of the drive.
- External Hard Drive – $55.00 to $120.00 (SATA) to $250.00 to $400.00 (SSD) Depending on the size and type of drive you want (SSD or a SATA).
- NAS Drive (WD My Cloud or Seagate Personal Storage Cloud) – $129.00 to $600.00 Depending on the size of the drive.
- Cloud Storage – Free to $1000.00+ per month. With cloud storage this will all depend on how much space you need. Once you get over a few gigs of cloud storage the price can jump dramatically between each step up in storage size. A personal cloud might be a better option if you need a lot of storage space.
Note: I use a WD MyCloud for my image and graphic files. Since I do a lot of graphics design and photography I find myself needing way too much space and I need to access it for multiple locations.
Tips for Storing your Photos
Tip 1: Store only your best work on your drives and in your back-ups. You do not need to store every single photo you have ever taken. You just need to store and back-up your best and favorite photos.
Tip 2: Clean out your photos regularly and trim down your collection as needed. A great way to do this is to delete a set number of images every time you clean out your photos. Example: You will delete at least 10 photos once a month if needed. This will ensure you are only saving your best and most impressive photos. In Lightroom CC the shortcut ‘x’ allows you to mark photos to be deleted.
Tip 3: Make sure your storage devices and back-ups are working. Every month or so take an inventory of your images and make sure your storage options are all working as they should be. This is especially true if you are using an automatic backup system.
Tip 4: Have a good organization structure for your folders. Where and when to store your files is not the only things you need to worry about when storing images. You need to make sure they are well organized and easy to find. What good is it to have all these amazing photos and never be able to find the one you are looking for when you need it.
Here is an example of a good folder structure:
Year (2017) > Month (January) > Place or descriptive name (Los Angles California or Dog pictures)
You can choose to structure your folders the best way to fits your needs for organizing your images. Just remember to be consistent in organizing your images.
In closing storing, organizing and backing up your photos is a necessity to keeping your images safe and secure. In many cases you have worked hard, traveled the planet and put yourself through early mornings, cold weather and other not so pleasant circumstances to get these amazing and sometimes once in a lifetime photos. You do want to lose all this hard work and effort just because you did not back up and store your images properly. Take the time, put the money out, and protect your photos properly.