Best external hard drive for processing photos

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by bigbadneil, Aug 12, 2011.

  1. bigbadneil macrumors 6502


    Jul 18, 2009
    what is the nest way to store my photos on my iMac and macbook air using lightroom.
    Right now I store the photos on the iMac hard drive but then I transfer them to a external hard drive when I travel so that I can access them on the macbook.
    I was wanting to just store the photos on the external hard drive and set the backup to save them on the hard drive of the iMac but when the photos are on the external hard drive it is painfully slow to do anything with the pictures using lightroom on the iMac
    Can someone point me in the right direction on what setup I should use.
    Below is what I want to do;
    1/. store and edit pictures using Lightroom/Bridge on my iMac
    2/. download pictures from my Nikon D3s to my lightroom/Bridge program for editing
    3/. have access to my lightroom pictures when I am traveling using my Macbook Air (small hard drive)

    I currently have a 1T Western Digital External hard drive but the processing is slow, what about a external hard drive with firewire (note macbook air does not have firewire
  2. imahawki macrumors 6502a

    Apr 26, 2011
    What I did is buy the Seagate GoFlex Desk USB and then bought just the FW800 dock for my my iMac. They claim they're going to release a TB dock. So you could go that route and use USB for now and then switch the TB later.
  3. treestar macrumors 6502

    Feb 28, 2010
    I'm coming in here to complicate things. I hope you will consider a mirrored backup, probably RAID 1 will be ideal for you. I use a G-Technology G-RAID mini to do work on the road. Maybe for you it would work as your main photo storage drive. I use it to carry large TIFF files, between 30 MB and 500 MB for the design work I do. I need to access multiple files at a time. The G-RAID is pretty quick over FW800, especially considering how large my files are. It also helps to optimize the file system on the drive and let or restrict OS X from storing thumbnails, etc. for quick access and browsing.

    I'm having a hard time addressing all your needs, but I recommend storing your photos with a backup. Look for fast drives, 7,200 rpm minimum. If you really need speed, you can get a RAID 0 of SSD's in an external, just make sure you have a port that won't bottleneck you. I don't know if your computers have Thunderbolt, but LaCie is making fast external drives for TB.

    Maybe to edit on the MBA you will be better off copying files to the flash storage. When I work on projects on my MBP, I start with all my project files on the internal SSD. It gives me quick access and I don't need a portable drive while I am working on a single 50 GB project. I use the external to have access to my older materials and for when I go to the studio. I also use the external to backup work that I can't afford to lose, so I will always save down to it and keep a copy on my MBP while I am travelling. I can lose the external or have my MBP stolen and could still be OK.

    You can also just get a single drive external with an SSD. There are a few benefits to using an SSD in an external: weight, power requirement, stability, temperature. Since you are in need of a redundant backup though I suggested a RAID 1 drive. FYI the G-RAID mini is only bus powered with FW, not USB, so that isn't good news with the MBA.

    Maybe a nice TB bus powered external will come along.
  4. bigbadneil thread starter macrumors 6502


    Jul 18, 2009
    would you say that the G-Raid is better than the Time Capsule, seeing as I am using a Mac??
  5. Vudoo macrumors 6502a


    Sep 30, 2008
    Dallas Metroplex
    SSD drive on thunderbolt.

    10,000 RPM drive in a FW800 enclosure.

    Or just store the files on the external and copy the working files over to the Mac and edit and copy back.
  6. imahawki macrumors 6502a

    Apr 26, 2011
    Keep in mind that RAID is not a backup. Anything you keep in the same location as your computer is a copy, not a backup. I rotate two disks off-site to keep my photos backed up.
  7. treestar macrumors 6502

    Feb 28, 2010
    The G-Tech drives are formatted with HFS+ for Macs. There is no software benefit to the Time Capsule I am aware of. I heard the price of the Time Capsule was inflated, especially for the 3TB model. G-Tech has awesome build quality, I can say even better than Apple. But the Time Capsule is a whole other monster, capable of doing a lot more.

    Time Capsule
    +Printer sharing
    -AC power
    -Slow over WiFi
    -Single drive, no redundancy

    G-RAID mini
    +Small size and weight
    +Bus powered over FW
    +USB 2.0, FW800 and eSATA
    +Data redundancy RAID 1 or fast RAID 0
    -DC power required with eSATA and USB

    Of course, you won't see all the benefits like FW, ethernet, and bus power with the MBA. The Time Capsule would be great at home, but not for travel. You can opt to get the G-RAID mini and connect it to your iMac and share it over WiFi that way, which would simulate a lot of the benefits of the Time Capsule.

    Neither the Time Capsule or G-RAID mini would be exceptionally fast. For that you'd want an external SSD or RAID 0, ideally connected via Thunderbolt. I'm not sure if your iMac has a TB port though.
  8. bigbadneil thread starter macrumors 6502


    Jul 18, 2009
    Unfortunately I bought my iMac 2 weeks before the relieve of the TB version
  9. njsa04playa macrumors 6502

    Apr 5, 2010
    new joisey
    oh u could of still got it replaced?

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