Updated: October 21, 2018 | Contains affiliate links

The best photo storage device configuration

When it comes to storing digital photos, people have many different configurations because there are many different purposes for storing digital photos. Most casual photographers have a simple setup for their hardware while professional photographers may have a very complex storage structure. Regardless of the configuration, a very important question should be answered by every photographer: How do you organize your photo storage devices? Read on to find out about my answer to this very important question.

What is your story about storing and organizing your digital photos?

Photographers get thrown into the photo storage issues whether they like it or not. The reason is very simple…you have to store your pictures somewhere.

However, after a while, the photo storage question comes back with a vengeance. The conversation about storing digital photos can go something like this:

You: Do I have enough room to store my digital pictures?
Your own answer: Hmmm…no worries, I’ll just buy an external hard drive…they’re cheap these days.

You again: Oh…now I have pictures on my internal computer hard drive and my external hard drive. Hmmm, where should I download these new pictures? Last time I think I downloaded them to the external hard drive…there is more room there.

You again after a while: What if my computer crashes? What happens to my pictures? Oh, I’ll get another external hard drive to back everything up…they’re cheap these days.

You…again: Why do I see all these duplicate pictures? It’s confusing! Where are my pictures?
Your answer: I’ve got to get things organized!

Have a simple goal and a simple setup

People have many different configurations consisting of internal hard drives, external hard drives, thumb drives, memory cards, CD or DVDs and maybe even more. Therefore, when contemplating photo storage devices and their configuration things can get very confusing because of the many options available. So you must keep your photo storage configuration simple.

Remember why you want to keep things organized! You organize your pictures so you can enjoy your digital pictures! You don’t do it so you can show your friends how organized you are and how unorganized they are. You don’t do it to show how well you manage a very complex configuration.

So keep things simple!

What is the best hardware configuration for storing and organizing your pictures ?

I have been writing for OrganizePictures.com for almost 6 years and I have received numerous emails about this topic. So I thought about it a lot!

Is there an ideal hardware configuration that works for everyone? The simple answer is no, there is not!

However, if we split photographers into amateur and professional then it’s becoming a lot easier to describe the best hardware configuration for storing digital photos. So here it is:

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The best hardware configuration for amateur (casual, family, beginner, however else you want to call us) photographers is to have only one internal hard drive that holds all your digital photos. Even more specifically, there should be only one folder holding all digital photos. For digital photos backup there should be only one external hard drive.

It’s simple: one internal hard drive for storage and one external hard drive for backup. It’s all simple and easy!

But, but…wait a minute! I don’t have enough room or I have external hard drives full of duplicate pictures…or something else.

You’re right there are many different objections. However, this simple hardware configuration is the best because…it’s simple. I think every amateur photographers should at least start with this configuration.

What about the professional photographer?

Well, I believe that this simple configuration for storing digital photos is a valid starting point for a professional photographer as well. When this structure is no longer enough (whether because of space or other considerations) multiple drives can be added to suit specific needs. And the specific needs are so different in the professional photography community, that I have no chance even starting to discuss these needs…so I’ll leave things here.

What is my digital photo storage configuration?

My configuration is simple. I have two internal hard drives in my Dell PC: a 320 Gb system hard drive that holds all my software. In addition I have a second 1 Tb internal hard drive that holds all my pictures and other media files. So only one internal hard drive for all my pictures.

Then I have one external 1Tb mirrored hard drive (2 1Tb identical drives setup as RAID 0) that servers as my backup drive . In addition, I have setup SyncBack to automatically backup my internal hard drive every night at midnight to the external hard drive.

It’s simple and efficient! This way I know where my new digital pictures are going (on the internal hard drive) and I know that everything gets backed up every night. The less I have to think about the better the system is.

What is your digital photo storage device configuration?

Essentials for organizing your digital photos

Here are the essential products and services I have come to rely on for many years to keep my media collection organized and safe. Even though these are affiliate links, I wholeheartedly recommend them.

Excellent Lightroom alternative. If you need a cheaper and simpler photo manager then ACDSee Photo Studio for Mac or ACDSee Photo Studio Professional for Windows is my preferred solution for organizing all my media. It has a very fast browser, great image editing and it's simple to use.

If you do a lot of image editing like I do, I recommend using Adobe Lightroom Classic CC via the annual Adobe Creative Cloud subscription. Lightroom has best photo editing capabilities even though it has a steeper learning curve. Adobe Lightroom is my favorite for image editing.

I recommend Backblaze Personal Cloud Backup for affordable & reliable unlimited cloud backup. I have been using Backblaze for backing up all pictures & videos for more than 5 years now. All my invaluable digital memories are safe and secure. This is the best solution especially if you have a large quantity of media files.

Use a reliable & affordable external hard drive for backing up everything on your computer. It is absolutely essential for keeping all your memories backed up and safe.

Start organizing now using detailed, step-by-step instructions and videos:
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Reference book Basics book


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