Storage for Digital Images and Data

Storage for Digital Images and Data

Photographers from beginners to professionals all require suitable forms of storage for their digital images. Many photographers continue to store their images on their computer or laptop hard drive without suitable backups. The problem here is that many hard drives malfunction or fail over time and retrieving the images and documents from a failed drive can be very difficult if not impossible. Fortunately the range of storage devices has increased over the years and the cost per gigabyte has fallen dramatically. 

Photographers can now choose from blank DVDs, blank Blu ray discs, internal computer hard disks, external USB or firewire hard disks, USB memory sticks, terabyte network drives, media hard discs with built in memory card readers and much more. 

Choosing the best form of storage will depend on the photographer's current and future needs. In all cases, it is essential to make regular backups i.e. from memory card to computer hard disc to external storage drive using differential backup software.

For professionals or photographers who have large amounts of digital images, it is always advisable to store a copy of the images off-site. Backup software is readily available and there are freeware versions available online for Windows and Macs. Most are simple to use and many have an option for differential backup whereby only new files are backed up to save time.

To work out how much storage will be required, first find out the average size of the jpeg or raw image taken by your digital slr camera. For instance if the digital slr camera produces jpegs at 5 megabytes (mb) on average and raw images at 20 mb, 1 gigabyte (gb) will store roughly 200 jpeg images (1000 divided by 5mb = 200 images) or 50 raw images (1000 divided by 20mb = 50 images). For manufacturers of storage devices, 1 gb equals 1000 mb and 1000 gigabytes equals one terabyte. Therefore a typical 500 gb external USB hard disc will be able to hold 100,000 jpegs at 5 mb per jpeg and 25,000 raw images at 20mb per raw image. In reality hard disks always provide slightly less storage space than stated due to how storage is calculated and some space is often used for utilities.

For photographers who only take a few hundred or few thousand images a year, regularly backing up images on blank DVDs or external 60 gb USB hard disk will provide sufficient storage space. A blank DVD can hold 4.7 gb of data. This will probably suit the vast majority of family or casual photographers who take photographs mainly on holidays and special occasions.

For enthusiasts, semi-professional or professional photographers, large reliable storage devices will be needed. For regular backups at home or in a work environment, a network storage drive will provide terabytes of space and a raid option will allow you to make two sets of backups to different drives at the same time. For most photographers, a 500 gb or terabyte usb hard disk will be enough to store their images for a year or more. As reliability is a major issue when it comes to hard disks, it is a good idea to read professional reviews or those from private users before purchasing a drive. Drives from Western Digital and Seagate are highly regarded for their reliability and performance.