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Working from External Hard Drives

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Currently I use a iMac (OS X, 16GB, 1TB) & LR4 and CS6.


 


I archived all the images up to 2014 on external HDs, in other words, on iMac internal HD, I have only images waiting to be edited/processed or already edited 2015 images but the HD is being filled up fast (as I am writing this thread, only 66GB space left).  Sooner or later I will have to work from external HDs all the time


 


My questions are;


  • What would be your ideal set up in this scenario?  My budget is not limitless but I am prepared to invest sensibly.
  • Which external HD is better in this case between the one with mains power and the one without? (At the moment I use both)

  • Are there any alternative?

  • Any other suggestions or advice?

I would be very grateful for your replies.


 


Sung

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Something seems strange here Sung.

 

I am not a tecchy by any means but I am using similar system and working method to you (iMac, OSX, 8GB, 500GB SSD) LR6 and PS.

 

Move all completed photos to external HDs with only current photos being worked on, or awaiting work, on the internal HD.

 

My internal HD is not filling up and apart from adding software occasionally the available capacity remains much the same.

 

Must be something else I would have thought that is filling the internal HD on your system but at a loss to suggest what.

 

Allan

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All finished images/files are stored only on multiple external drives. The only files that stay on my internal HD (desktop) are the current folders for (mainly) client files and raws yet to be edited/processed. Old adage about keeping data off the computer and programs on the computer.

 

I've not found much difference in externals, I tend to use both types - virtually all WDs and been very lucky so far. I also have space on an external as a scratch disk.

 

Never seen any point in keeping data on the computers hard drive.

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I don't know about ideal, but I use an iMac with LR and PSE, but keep all photos on an external WD drive. I also use a Samsung external drive for backing up the WD and another WD to back up the internal HD via time Machine.

 

I read somewhere that one should use external HDs for ALL storage and the internal HD for processing.

 

If you use LR, you may find that you have several GB of catalogue back ups, depending on your workflow. All but the latest can be deleted.

 

I've never used a mains powered one and have never suffered a HD failure - yet.

  • Upvote 1

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I echo Geoff's comments and experience.

I too use WD drives (sitting here  i can see my array of 10 x 2TB working drives in front of me), and only have image files only on my internal drive whilst i am working on them (and, of course, they are backed up to the externals anyway). I find the mains powered drives to have faster read/write speeds than non-powered ones (i use those too as a third layer of backup)

 

km

Edited by RedSnapper

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My ideal set-up would be to purchase a RAID. A RAID is scalable, and RAID 5 makes it literally impossible to lose any data due to drive failure.

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My ideal set-up would be to purchase a RAID. A RAID is scalable, and RAID 5 makes it literally impossible to lose any data due to drive failure.

 

But if the device is lost in a fire, or stolen, you then have no data. If you go for any RAID set up, you need to have at least two devices kept separately.

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Thank you for everyone for sharing and offering your experiences with me.

 

 

Something seems strange here Sung.

 

I am not a tecchy by any means but I am using similar system and working method to you (iMac, OSX, 8GB, 500GB SSD) LR6 and PS.

 

Move all completed photos to external HDs with only current photos being worked on, or awaiting work, on the internal HD.

 

My internal HD is not filling up and apart from adding software occasionally the available capacity remains much the same.

 

Must be something else I would have thought that is filling the internal HD on your system but at a loss to suggest what.

 

Allan

 

 

All finished images/files are stored only on multiple external drives. The only files that stay on my internal HD (desktop) are the current folders for (mainly) client files and raws yet to be edited/processed. Old adage about keeping data off the computer and programs on the computer.

 

I've not found much difference in externals, I tend to use both types - virtually all WDs and been very lucky so far. I also have space on an external as a scratch disk.

 

Never seen any point in keeping data on the computers hard drive.

 

 

I don't know about ideal, but I use an iMac with LR and PSE, but keep all photos on an external WD drive. I also use a Samsung external drive for backing up the WD and another WD to back up the internal HD via time Machine.

I read somewhere that one should use external HDs for ALL storage and the internal HD for processing.

If you use LR, you may find that you have several GB of catalogue back ups, depending on your workflow. All but the latest can be deleted.

I've never used a mains powered one and have never suffered a HD failure - yet.

 

Hi Alan, Geoff and Ian. My problem is that the number of files that are waiting to be vetted out, to keyworded and to be processed are growing.  (due to my lack of speed in dealing with them).  I regularly delete old LR catalogue backups.

 

I echo Geoff's comments and experience.

I too use WD drives (sitting here  i can see my array of 10 x 2TB working drives in front of me), and only have image files only on my internal drive whilst i am working on them (and, of course, they are backed up to the externals anyway). I find the mains powered drives to have faster read/write speeds than non-powered ones (i use those too as a third layer of backup)

 

km

 

Hi Keith.  It seems that I am not doing something very different from other people. I also find that the mains powered HD is faster but I was wondering if there is any other advantages over ones without mains power.

 

 

My ideal set-up would be to purchase a RAID. A RAID is scalable, and RAID 5 makes it literally impossible to lose any data due to drive failure.

Hi Sunshine Superman.  I need to Google and find out what exactly RAID is.  I am not very techy. But it sounds good to me.

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My LR workflow is

 

Import from SD to external HD in date order folders

 

Move Alamy suitable images to an Alamy collection ( this doesn't move them on the HD.

 

Process and keyword (very basic) in LR as and when I get round to it.

Remove from Alamy collection when uploaded.

The internal drive doesn't fill up this way.

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Also keep in mind that Adobe Photoshop runs best when there is a lot of free HD space. When crunching a lot of data, PS creates temporary files along the way. When your hard drive fills up the creation of these temporary files hinders the performance of your computer. In PS Preferences you can assign additional "Scratch Disk."

 

This is the reason that many will recommend that only your apps and your essential files reside on your internal hard drive. That you use a speedy external HD for your image archive. And that you manage your scratch disk.

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A TB is a fairly large hard drive, and for peak performance you should never let your drive go below 15% of available drive space, so you shouldn't let your Mac have less than 150GB of available drive space.

 

I usually only keep what I am working on as well on the computer, everything else goes to the externals.  Depending on what else you use your Mac for, that seems like one heck of a large back up of photos you have yet to process if you are taking up almost the entire drive.

 

My computer only has a 500GB drive and rarely goes past half full. And that is mostly video that is taking up the space.

 

You should take all the photos still awaiting processing and put them on a network drive. Not good for you computer to be that full.

 

Jill

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Why don't you look at wireless external hard drives also known as NAS (network area storage)

 

leave it connected to your router, upload and download from it. where ever you are in the world as long as you have the internet of course. 

 

I know seagate have been making very good secure consumer grade NAS drives (4TB around £100, i think 6TB is £180-190 from what i remember) I also know someother brands have been doing it. 

 

You could\bulid get a far more complex NAS system, ones where you keep upgrading drives to give more space etc but they aren't cheap. or you could buy a second hand desktop buy some larger hard drives install windows home server and your have your very own server with great upgradablity 

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Thank you everyone for the valuable information.

 

I had better order a couple of EXDs and move all  the internal HD.  Certainly NAS drives sound like a good idea.  AND I'd better also deal with my waiting images faster....  :(

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So, Sung -- there is a lot of helpful information in the answers to your thread. Thanks for posting it. Many of the more savvy people in the forum use Western Digital external HDs. Me too, even if I'm not so savvy. I like the hints that our iMac HD (others too, I'm sure) works a lot better when it's not overloaded.  :)

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I don't think you have said what generation your iMac is but, if it is Thunderbolt-enabled (or even USB3), then you can simply use external drives as working drives. This is the way Apple has been moving in the last few years. For example, the latest MacPros only offer internal flash drives, everything else is external, just as with the MacBook Pros.

 

I use a 4TB Thunderbolt G-Technology external drive as my main working drive and it contains not just my working images but most of my archive as well. It is extremely fast working with LR and PS6 (but so is USB3) which removes the need for an internal working drive at all. I have a 500GB internal flash drive for the OS, apps and my LR catalogue but almost everything now lives on two external drives (one G-Technology Thunderbolt mains drive for my images and a portable WD USB3 drive for various other things). The G-Technology drive is faster than the portable WD but I have a few other G-Technology USB3 drives for backing up and these are almost as fast as the Thunderbolt. So, in other words, USB3 is sufficient and cheaper, Thunderbolt is not essential to work in this way.

Edited by MDM

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I have a 4 TB LaCie powered drive with my main LR catalog because my 1 TB second internal drive on my iMac filled up way too fast. Thunderbolt connection is fast and seamless. I shoot a lot of travel and nature, and often shoot a lot and don't process it all right away and also have client files I'm processing right away so they fill up fast - especially when you bracket your shots it's a lot before they are culled. The 500 GB drive on my macbook seems to fill so quickly when I'm traveling too. Working off the LaCie has been great and lets me have all my images from the past 6 years organized in once place with older files in a second catalog. I upload from the cards directly to the LaCie and work on them there and it's super-fast. I only have 8GB RAM and using CC and LR6 have no lag time. 

 

After I cull my images I now back them all up to Photoshelter, as well as backing up to a WD RAID and various external drives - some kept offsite - and make sure everything is on at least three hard drives before reformatting the cards from each shoot.

 

When I'm traveling I sometimes find my 500 GB macbook drive getting too full because I will leave some photos on there from other trips to process - I don't like working off an unpowered drive but use them for travel and extra backup. 

Edited by Marianne

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Hi Ed.  

 

I am glad my post proves to be useful.  Although I have been using computers (PC & iMac) for many years, there are so many things that I am ignorant about.  If I have not got enough time to process my waiting images faster, when am I going to learn all these?  :(

 

Hi MDM, 

 

Thank you for your input.  I am not sure what generation my iMac is but I think mine has 2 thunderbolt sockets and 4 USB sockets at the back.

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I thought about getting a 4TB wireless drive but wouldn't that be much slower if you keep your catalog and photos you're working on on the drive? Even with fast Verizon fios I'd be worried about lag time - not to mention a problem if your network is down. Don't want to highjack the thread but would welcome comments on working with wireless externals as your main HD vs. thunderbolt.  Thanks!

 

SFL, I'm way too slow at processing my images so I had the same problem you did - getting that 4TB drive ( and an even larger RAID backup) really helped. 

Edited by Marianne

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I am not as prolific as you are but I do make fair number of images regularly, Marianne.  On top of that, ever-growing file sizes produced by modern cameras are also contributing to the problem in my opinion.  

 

I think your concern about wireless drive is valid.  You are not hijacking the thread.  I would like to hear comments on working with wireless EHDs, too.

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Simply storing your files to an external drive solves some of your problems but not all of your problems. Occasionally, drives may fail. If this happens to you then the loss of terabytes of data can be extremely painful. This is the type of pain that a redundant RAiD or a RAID 5 can prevent.

 

Also, I moved my Catalog file from my main computer to my external hard drive. If you have multiple computers or laptops that you may work from you need to be able to access the Catalog file from which ever machine that you have connected to the external drive. You can also store the Catalog file in the cloud on a service like Dropbox. Remember that Lightroom is first and foremost, a database. Without the database, your Catalog, Lightroom has no access to your adjustments and keywords.

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After your post I had a brief look on the subject of RAID.  I think I do need sit down and digest what it is.  I can understand the concept of it but the jargons are like another language (I don't think it is helping that English is not my first language either.  Well that's another subject.  :) )

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If you have tons of images still to process (and if they are taking up that much space, you must have a few thousand) then would it not be wiser that instead of going out and taking more images that will be stored but not processed, process the images you have, get them on sale, move them to your hard drives, and then go out and take more.

 

You can't make money from images sitting on your computer. I know its much more fun to go out an shoot, but the grunt work of keywording, uploading, etc has to be done, or you just have a nice little private collection of images to look at.

 

So get your new drive, process the images already on the computer, move them over, then go out and have more photography fun.  Set a goal of so many images a day to process and stick with it.  Just think how much space you will create just deleting the images that don't cut it.

 

Jill

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A RAID is basically a storage case for hard drives. You can get RAID cases with 3, 4, or more bays for hard drives. This is why they are scalable. You could put a 1 TB drive or a 2 TB drive in each bay if you wish. RAIDS can be configures in several ways. What RAID 5 configuration does for you is that you can never lose data as long as no more than 1 drive fails at a time. In the event that a drive fails the device starts beeping like crazy. All you have to do is to replace the defective drive with an identical blank drive and the system will rebuild the data on the replaced drive. It is like magic. Someone once provided me with an over simplified explanation of how the rebuild works, which is easy to understand. I will spare everyone this explanation unless someone really wants to know and ask.

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I thought about getting a 4TB wireless drive but wouldn't that be much slower if you keep your catalog and photos you're working on on the drive? Even with fast Verizon fios I'd be worried about lag time - not to mention a problem if your network is down. Don't want to highjack the thread but would welcome comments on working with wireless externals as your main HD vs. thunderbolt.  Thanks!

 

SFL, I'm way too slow at processing my images so I had the same problem you did - getting that 4TB drive ( and an even larger RAID backup) really helped. 

 

I've no direct experience of NAS but it seems that the main advantage would be in a multi-user situation where people want to share files easily. The following link may be of interest http://www.dabs.com/blog/index.php/the-benefits-of-nas

 

As far as I can see, for a single Mac user, Thunderbolt works fine as you already know, although the speed advantages over the significantly cheaper USB3 seem minimal to me.

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Jill, thank you for your sensible advice.  It is something I think about often, but at the same time, it is hard to implement.  I do it for a while and start making more images.  I know it is something I do need to deal with with a high level of determination. 

 

Sunshine Superman, thank you again for your input.  I am beginning to understand what RAID is.  The jargons like striping, parity, redundancy, etc frightened me when I read it first about it, although the following  articles helped me to understand the basics. (I put them for the other non-techy persons like me if they are interested in.)  A question if I may, when you have a RAID, how do you make backups?

 

http://www.pcworld.com/article/194360/raid-made-easy.html

 

I found the diagrams useful.

 

http://allen-qu.blogspot.co.uk/2006/08/what-is-raid-6.html

 

MDM, when you mentioned G-Technoloy in previous reply, I thought it was a new kind of techonolgy.  Am I correct to think that it is the name of HD company? It appears that they make HD for both Thunerbolt and USB3.

 

Sung

Edited by SFL

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