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Storage Solutions For Photographers

Storage Solutions For Photographers

Published by Programme B

As an amateur photographer myself, I know how frustrating it can be when you fill up your computer’s hard drive every time you get back from a trip. The fact is, the quality of photos and videos these days creates huge data storage requirements for photographers, professional and amateur alike.

Thankfully there are a number of options on the market to help solve this problem, from LTO tape to cloud storage. Wading through all the pros and cons of these data storage solutions and making the right choice is easier said than done, however. 

What that in mind, today we are going to discuss a few of the main data storage solutions out there to help photographers make the best choice for their needs.


External Hard Drives

External hard drives are rapidly rotating magnetic disks used to store data that connect to your computer via a USB, FireWire, eSATA, or wirelessly instead of being directly connected to the motherboard. 

Seagate and Western Digital dominate the hard drive market, however, if you’re a Mac user you might consider trying LaCie, a more niche brand that specializes in Mac products. 

Most photographers have at one time or another used external hard drives to store photos. However, these drives can quickly pile up forcing the more experienced photographer or videographer to lug around cases of storage drives everywhere they go. Hard drives all are easily corrupted, and if damaged, the data becomes irretrievable. That’s why for many photographers it’s time to look at a more long term or modern storage solution. 


LTO Tape Storage

Linear Tape-Open (LTO) is a type of magnetic tape data storage that was originally invented in the early 1990’s. These days LTO storage is mainly used as an archiving data solution for long term storage because tapes last around 30 years vs. an average of just 10-15 years for regular hard drives.

In terms of per terabyte storage costs, LTO tape storage is also the most affordable option out there. So if you’re a photographer or videographer with terabytes of data to store on a budget, LTO Tape storage will probably be your best option.

However, LTO tape storage has its cons as well.  If you need to quickly access your data, you’d be better off going with cloud storage or Solid State Drives. 

Data retrieval takes time when using LTO storage. That being said, there are companies out there, like Archiware, that can help you more readily access your LTO tape data. So, don’t be afraid to give this storage method a try, it’s usually an ideal solution for photographers. 


Cloud storage

Cloud storage is an ideal storage solution for photographers who need to consistently access their library of photos and videos. Cloud storage works by outsourcing your storage needs online to companies that store millions of people’s data on giant servers across the country.

That way if you need to access your data you simply download it from the internet directly onto your computer or local storage device. Although Cloud storage provides a lot of benefits, there are some definite cons as well.

For example, cloud storage is one of the more expensive options on this list because of the hefty monthly service charges, especially if you have higher capacity storage needs. Also, if you use cloud storage understand that your data is far more vulnerable to theft or corruption. That’s why so many photographers often choose LTO storage or some combination of the two instead of relying solely on cloud storage.  


Solid State Drives

Finally, Solid State Drives(SSDs) were introduced by SanDisk back in 1991 with just 20MB of data storage capacity. The little drives that could have made it a long way since then, however, taking over the information storage market slowly but surely. 

Due to their integrated circuits and the lack of a spinning disk, SSDs are more durable, quieter, and have quicker access time and lower latency than regular hard drives or disk storage. 

In the past, SSDs simply didn’t have the storage capacity required to support the terabytes of data the average photographer needs to store. This isn’t the case anymore. In 2020, there are SSDs that have as much have 4TB of data. That means you can save thousands of ultra-high-resolution Raw files or around 16 hours of high-bitrate 4K video. 

SSDs are a great storage solution for up and coming photographers who haven’t yet amassed a large enough collection of data to require LTO Tape Storage, external hard drives, or cloud storage. They can be expensive, however, starting at over $450 for the larger 4TB versions.

Photo by Markus Spiske from Pexels