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Digital Image Archiving

The archiving is a very important part of any photographers workflow. Some do it before editing, some after. You might only store originals with edited versions or originals only. What you store is up to you. How you store it, can have a huge impact on future use of your images.

Today's 10, 12, 15 megapixel cameras can produce huge file sizes, especially when you use Raw. Even a couple hundred shots with a 10mp camera can be more than 1gb worth of data. Where do you put all these files?
CDs are no longer practical. They are way too small for even mid resolution cameras. That leaves you with DVDs or the new Blue-ray technology.

DVD's hold either 4.7gb on a single layer disk or 9.4 on a dual layer. For now this is a pretty good solution to storing images. It's cheap, but remember to use archival quality DVD's for longevity.

At this point in time, Blue-ray is too new and way too expensive to be a feasible solution. Sure you can cram 25gb on a single layer disk or 50gb on a dual layer, but the technology is fairly new and not yet commonplace. This will change in the near future, exactly the same way that DVD's replaced CD's for large volume storage.

There are several drawbacks to storing images this way. One is image retrieval. This will always take some time even if you have an up-to-date text file with image locations and disk numbers. As your library grows bigger, so will your need for space grow.

Another concern is the lifespan on disks. Exposure to varying humidity and heat, not to mention light can all harm the life of a disk. Once a disk is damaged, recovering images is a painstaking process which isn't always successful. Be aware that writing on disks and applying labels can all shorten your disk life. Only write on the case, never on the disk.
Hard Drive:
Using a hard drive for image storage is an easy and fairly secure solution. Hard drives are cheap and image retrieval is fast. Most computers will hold several additional hard drives internally and external storage solutions are limitless. I prefer to use several internal hard drives for easy access, as well as external drives for backing up. Multiple hard drives are mirrored so changes on my internal drives are copied over to my external drives which are only turned on for this purpose.

I also have a DVD archive that I keep adding to which is stored offsite. In case of a hard drive failure, I simply replace the bad drive and copy the mirrored drive over. Quick and safe. In case of an emergency, I still have my off-site DVDs. This way I have 2 immediately available copies and another off-site. I find this to be a relatively quick and safe solution.

Another solution for offsite storage is to rent space on a server and upload all your images. This however will cost you a lot of bandwidth as well as storage fees. Once you are past 500gb it can get quite expensive not to mention time consuming.

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