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Why Store Photos on a Separate Hard Drive?

I’d like to explain how I keep my photos safe and get the best performance out of my computer. For my internal drive I use a fast 256GB solid state hard drive (SSD). This stores only my operating system, program files and my Lightroom Catalog. I then use an external drive (or in my case a RAID) to store my data files and photos I also use a 3-2-1 Backup for Photographers plan to keep my photos safe (check out that article for some more tips).

Why this Configuration

People often ask me why I have two drives when one is cheaper and easier to keep track of. This two drive configuration, storing just your operating system along with program files and your Lightroom catalog on your local drive, keeps your system running fast.

When a hard drive gets full, it takes longer to read and write the data to and from the disk, slowing your system down. Adding large amounts of photos to a local drive can fill the drive fast, causing poor performance. Additionally, trying to run an operating system and applications while also opening and closing files means your disk is trying to push data in at least two directions at once. This is why a separate drive is needed.

Separate Drives

A separate drive can either be internal or external. This drive stores just your data and photos so you need to ensure you have enough room to handle your storage needs. Personally, I use a Drobo 5D that allows me to add additional storage as my needs grow. My computer sees the Drobo as one large drive.

Before Drobo, I had multiple internal drives. Each were assigned a drive letter with a label. I kept data files on drive D that was labeled Data. I spread my photos across several drives when I reached 70% capacity. Remember, when a hard drive fills, it slows down. 70% seemed to be a good percentage for performance.

The Bottomline

Separating your operating system and program files from your data and photos…

  • makes your system run faster.
  • allows for expansion when you need more storage capacity for data and photos.
  • makes it easier to organize and backup your data.

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