After using this system for over a year now I have found that the advantages to the caddy far out way any disadvantages. The real downsides are without adequate cooling in your computer case heat buildup could be an issue, The hard drives themselves require more careful handling and are not as portable as an external drive. The advantages however are the strengths of the hard drive caddy and internal drive:
Low Cost- The caddy will cost approximately $20.00 on New Egg. Com or on Amazon.com. I have seen it for as much as $30.00 in retail stores but would never pay more than $20.00 for it. The sata and power cable will cost at the most $10.00 together and are made by many different manufacturers. 1 terabyte hard drives will cost $100.00 and 640 gigabyte drives will run about $75.00.
Fairly simple installation- All you need is a #2 Phillips head screwdriver to mount the caddy in the hard drive cage. Simply remove both sides of the computer tower, Plug the sata and power cables into the caddy and insert into the hard drive cage. From there all that’s left is to plug in the cables and insert a drive.
There will be less wear and tear on your internal drive using the caddy as there won’t be as much reading and writing to the disk. This makes the drive much more reliable and longer lasting. Typically you should get between five to seven years of useful life out of a drive before it may need to be replaced. Since the drive is not being powered up and down and constantly being accessed you may be able to extend this time period.
You can have multiple drives- I use one for my image archive and another for backing up my entire computer. Make sure that when the drive is not in use that it is stored in a secure place and in a static free bag. For added safety I place the hard drive in a Kingwin 3.5 inch hard drive protector kit. It’s simply a rubber casing to the drive similar to one you may put on a Ipod. These can be found at http://www.newegg.com for $3.99 + $2.99 shipping.
The cost of external drives now equals internal drives. The biggest advantage here being that your transfer speeds over a usb 2.0 cable and external drive are much slower than an internal drive which means more waiting to save files.
Saving and storing your digital images should be just as important as any other part of the photographic work flow. This is your work and having a long-term solution to storing and preserving is vital.
Photographers work long hours and venture into places no one else would go into just to get a few great images. As an amateur I am always on the lookout for new techniques and equipment which will give me the freedom to work and the piece of mind knowing that my images are safe,sound and preserved.
(Foot note: Acronis true image home will allow you to make an image of all of your hard drives or individual folders thereby making it extremely easy to recover your computer in case of some type of catastrophic drive failure. I have used Acronis for well over a year now and would highly recommend the program. In a few simple steps you insert the disk into your drive with the computer off and when it is turned on the computer will automatically boot to the Acronis CD. From there its just a few clicks and you can make and store your drive images with the hot swap caddy and an attached hard drive. If and when your drive does fail all you have to do is replace it and put the image that you made of the failed drive onto the new one. You now have the same drive but without the hassle of having to completely update everything…Everyone who has ever lost an operating system drive will be thankful.