Economical image storage without breaking the bank, Part one.


As a photographer I am always challenged by the task of storing my ever-increasing image archive. When I first started to shoot digital it never occurred to me how much storage space I would need or how fast a hard drive can fill up. As my skills have improved and my photo shoots have become more frequent I now have a need to store and preserve my images separately away from my computer.

Like most I am fanatical about storing my images to at least two separate locations before I remove them from my memory card but as an amateur with a limited budget I needed a storage solution that would be economical and  convenient. My solution, the Antec Easy Sata 5.25”/3.5” esata hard drive hot swap caddy  was found after a year of corrupted motherboards, frustrating warranty repair departments and lost images and data.

Out of frustration comes salvation

After purchasing two different computers from big box retailers, Both of which required extensive warranty work, I completely abandoned this approach and decided to build my own computer from the ground up. My computer was built for photo  editing work, speed and expansion, Being a Windows Vista 64 bit machine with a four core processor, A 150 gb Windows and programs only drive, Two Western Digital Caviar black hard drives of 750 and 640 gb’s each for data. The computer also has one Blu-ray disk drive and one read only disk drive to save wear and tear on the Blu-Ray.  With an empty 5.25 inch drive bay I now had the option of adding the  storage I would need for backing up my image archive as well as the space for massive drive image files.  After much exhaustive research I came across the hard drive caddy as a convenient and easy way to take care of all of my storage needs.

Up to this point I had been using usb external hard drives as my main backup solution however I always viewed these as temporary storage and not for the long-term. After investigating hundreds of external drives I settled on internal 3.5 inch drives as my main means of storage as external drives  have a much higher rate of failure and after reading hundreds of reviews they would not be adequate for the long-term.

The Antec hard drive caddy simply slips into any available 5.25 inch drive bay with an opening in it for a 3.5 inch internal hard drive. When installed you simply tighten four screws to attach the caddy to the  hard drive cage and then a sata data cable and power cable are attached at the rear of the caddy. From this point once installed all you have to do is choose your hard drive and insert into the caddy. You are now free to use any capacity drive that fits your needs. Some points to consider when using the caddy are:

1) If your operating system and motherboard  does not support hot swapping(removing the drive without turning off the computer) you must insert the drive while the computer is off and eject once the computer has shut down.

2) In Vista when a new drive is inserted it does not immediately show up in the computer or My computer panel. Make sure that the drive is firmly seated into the caddy and in Vista go to control panel>system and maintenance>device manager>disk drives and here you can see that the drive is there.

3) Once you have confirmed that the drive is there you can go to control panel>system and maintenance>administrative tools> create and format hard disk partitions. From here you can initialize and format the drive and also assign it a drive letter. Once this is done the drive will be ready to use.

4) The inserted drives can get quite hot if your computer case does not have adequate fans or ventilation. My case has a 140mm fan and four 120mm fans as well as a cpu fan so everything stays plenty cool. It is always best to do quick formats on your drives as a long format will take too much time and the drive may get extremely hot.

5) The eject button on the caddy must be pushed in when inserting and ejecting the drive. This will allow for a smooth insertion and ejection of the drive.

6) Any drive size can be used. I choose to go with Western Digital 1 terabyte drives for the storage space and their reliability.

7) This sounds simplistic but you must check and make sure first that you have an empty expansion bay on your computer to fit the hard drive caddy.

8. Dont forget about protection for the hard drives that you will be using for this. Anti-static bags and simple rubber hard drive covers are necessary for keeping all of that valuable data safe when the drives are not in use.

9) I have had great success using Western Digital hard drives. I choose the Caviar Black drives for performance. The other drives they have save on power use and are much slower in reading and writing.

(Note: Next week I will post the second part of this article and discuss the advantages and disadvantages of storing images in this way.)

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