3 Replies Latest reply on Jul 24, 2015 11:50 AM by dj_paige

    Need advice on photo and catalog storage options

    Badly Drawn Boy Level 1

      I have a retina 5K iMac with 500 GB SSD. I have OS X, my music, and my files on the internal drive. I also have an external LaCie Little Big Disk 1 TB drive that I use to store my photo library. I have a couple of HDDs in external enclosures that I use for backup.

       

      Overall this setup has worked well. It is almost completely silent, which I require because I do a lot of audio recording (and because I simply prefer a silent work environment). And it is fast. I'm not editing video and I'm not a pro photographer, but I do a lot of work with layers in Photoshop and I appreciate minimizing the amount of time I'm sitting there waiting for tasks to complete.

       

      However, both my internal drive and LaCie Little Big are starting to get full. If I could go back in time, I would have bought the 1 TB internal SSD with the iMac, but I didn't—and as far as I can tell, there's no way to upgrade that, right?

       

      I would really like to increase the storage size for my photo library, as well. But I want to have a completely silent external drive, or at least a silent work environment. These are the options I'm considering:

      • Buy another LaCie Little Big Disk, daisy-chaining it to the first disk, and creating a RAID-0 with them. This would give me 2 TB of insanely fast storage space that is totally silent. But it's $1,200 for another 1 TB of storage, which is very expensive.
      • Move old photo files to a cheaper external hard drive, and store only active photos/projects on the LaCie Little Big. The cheaper drive would make noise when it's on, but there's no reason that it has to be on except when I'm accessing those files. This is probably the most financially sensible solution, but it's also clunky. It adds another drive that I need to backup (and could fail), it makes managing my catalog more difficult, and would make it hard for me to have collections that have photos that are on both the active and archive drives.
      • Buy an OWC ThunderBay 4 enclosure with 4x 1 TB drives in a RAID-0. I would have to put this in a drawer in a cabinet that is about 15 feet away from my desk, in order to maintain a silent work environment. This would require purchasing a long Thunderbolt cable. This solution would solve my storage space needs for the next few years, but it's more expensive than the first solution and adds another drive and more complexity (i.e. what do I do with my LaCie Little Big?).

       

      Are there other options that I'm not considering?

        • 1. Re: Need advice on photo and catalog storage options
          dj_paige Level 9

          I can't comment on your hardware issues (I am not a Mac person), and I don't really have any basis to comment on what is and is not too expensive for you, but I will comment on a few of your other statements.

           

          This is probably the most financially sensible solution, but it's also clunky. It adds another drive that I need to backup (and could fail), it makes managing my catalog more difficult, and would make it hard for me to have collections that have photos that are on both the active and archive drives.

          I guess I don't see what's clunky about it. Once you reach a situation where all of the photos won't fit on one drive (or you don't want them all one one drive), the choices are get a bigger disk (which you seem to have ruled out for cost reasons -- a very good reason) or split the photos over multiple disks. Many people do this. It's perfectly reasonable and perfectly workable. I don't see how it makes managing your catalog more difficult, the exact same tools you used before still work, and Lightroom really doesn't care which photos are on which disk(s), as long as everything is properly identified in the Lightroom catalog. You can even switch off the external HD when it is not needed if you really want to, again Lightroom doesn't mind a bit. It is not hard to have collections that have photos on both drives ... it's not the slightest bit harder, again Lightroom doesn't care which photos are on which drive.

          • 2. Re: Need advice on photo and catalog storage options
            Badly Drawn Boy Level 1

            Thanks. Maybe I just need to learn more about how Lightroom works! Admittedly, I don't have any experience setting it up when images are on different disks. If I had only the most recent year of images on my LaCie Little Big drive, and then all other images on another drive that is off most of the time, would I still be able to easily browse images that are on the disconnected drive? Maybe I should get a book that explains this in more detail.

             

            The one hassle with having another drive with images is it adds another drive I need to back up. I already back up the internal drive plus the LaCie Little Big. Not a huge deal but added time.

            • 3. Re: Need advice on photo and catalog storage options
              dj_paige Level 9

              If I had only the most recent year of images on my LaCie Little Big drive, and then all other images on another drive that is off most of the time, would I still be able to easily browse images that are on the disconnected drive? Maybe I should get a book that explains this in more detail.

              You can create smart previews for the external disk, and then you can perform most tasks except export/print/web/write metadata on these photos even when the disk is turned off.

               

              Even without smart previews (which do take up space on your internal drive), you could also turn the disk off and still view the thumbnails in your library, but I don't think you could do much with them (maybe you can move them into collections, I never tried)

               

              The one hassle with having another drive with images is it adds another drive I need to back up. I already back up the internal drive plus the LaCie Little Big. Not a huge deal but added time.

              This is not a Lightroom issue. With automated backup software, it shouldn't even be an issue.