iMac with 768 Flash Storage - Which external drive for Lightroom photo storage?

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by pete78, Apr 1, 2013.

  1. pete78 macrumors member

    Jan 14, 2011

    I finally got the new iMac with the 768GB flash storage (SSD).

    I'm a first time Lightroom user.

    From everything I've read, it sounds like I should install LR on the internal SSD, and maintain the catalog, previews on the internal SSD as well. Given that 768 SSD Flash Storage won't be a long term storage solution (size issues) for my photo files, I think my plan would be to put the actual picture files on an external drive. Is that the best approach for me?

    If so, which thunderbolt / USB 3 would you recommend for this purpose? Would I lose any speed by going external for the actual photo files instead of going all internal?

    Any advice would be much appreciated, thanks!
  2. acearchie macrumors 68040


    Jan 15, 2006
    How serious is your photography?

    Are you looking for back up as well? Is this an archive solution with an active library on the SSD?
  3. pete78 thread starter macrumors member

    Jan 14, 2011
    I'm not a pro, and probably not even a serious amateur, but I do know the basics (aperture, shutter speed, etc...), and use the OMD EM5 with primes. Most pictures are of my family and new baby.

    I would probably need a separate backup of the photos on the external drive. Also plan to get a drive for Time Machine.

    I'm just trying to figure out the best way to put everything together:

    1. LR and catalog on 768GB SSD internal

    2. Actual photo files on an external drive #1

    3. external drive #2 for time machine and backup of external drive #1, if that's possible (not sure if it is wise to have a drive serve as both Time Machine purposes and backing up files from an external drive).

    Any advice would be much appreciated; I just want to make sure I'm starting off with the best approach, instead of starting without thinking and then trying to undo or change things later.
  4. acearchie macrumors 68040


    Jan 15, 2006
    Well I will tell you my approach.

    I have just started out as a semi- pro photographer. I say semi-pro as I am still a student but making a little money on the side.

    My needs are slightly different from yours but at the end of the day the goal is the same. To save all your photos!

    My current method is to have a selection of photos on my laptop (max up to a year i.e. currently I have all of 2013 upto today). These are all backed up using a 1TB portable harddrive that I won in a competition. This is so I can back up on the road.

    At home I have 2 x 2TB "Archive" drives as I call them whereby I offload my previous year(s) work. I have two because there are no other copies of these photos apart from on these drives so I need to have a back up of them. At the moment I am having to sometimes use one of the 2tb drives as scratch disk for video so that's the real reason I have two dedicated drives over two in one enclosure.

    I use a program called Tri-Backup because it works for me and it was one of the first ones I tried. It automatically starts updating the copy when I plug the drives in.

    So far no hiccups and I haven't had to recover anything but I am happy knowing that I have at least two copies for everything.

    So far no off site backup but touch wood my house doesn't burn down!

    For you're requirement I would recommend a RAID1 2TB drive in the same enclosure. I.e. 2 x 2TB drives but the computer only sees 2TB as the drive is automatically covering the data across to the other and monitoring the condition.

    It's slightly more pricey than buying two independant drives but if you are using it with a desktop you might enjoy the piece of mind knowing there is not that much faffing to do.

    Hope some of that might help!
  5. Laird Knox macrumors 68000

    Jun 18, 2010
    I use a PC for my desktop work but the flow is the same. I am running my Lightroom off of an external USB 3.0 drive. It took a lot of digging as it seems that many of the portable drives are using 5400 RPM drives. I found a 7200 RPM USB 3.0 drive and I don't have any complaints with LR accessing 36MP files.

    I did have one issue with Photoshop but I believe it was a Windows problem. When I saved a 4GB image file the machine crawled to a stop after the save was done. When I finally managed to get the task manager open I saw that the memory was pegged at 100% usage and the CPU cores were near idle. I've since upgraded to 32GB RAM and have yet to hit that wall again.

    So the short answer is that a good USB 3.0 or Thunderbolt drive should work well. I also recommend going with as much memory as you can put in the machine.
  6. VirtualRain macrumors 603


    Aug 1, 2008
    Vancouver, BC
    I would look at a Promise J4... You can equip it with either more SSD storage, spinning 2.5" disks, or some combo and configure it in Disk Utility to suit your needs. It's compact, fast, flexible, quiet, and reasonably priced for TB.
  7. ijohn.8.80 macrumors 65816


    Jul 7, 2012
    Adelaide, Oztwaylya.
    If you are on a budget, you could look at SATA hard-drive docking stations like pictured below, that are normally around $40 to buy. You then just pick up SATA drives and store them in a dust free box, away from strong electromagnetic fields. I bought another 3TB drive yesterday for a smidge under $100 including postage, so I don't have to share a drive with video and photo's.

    The one pictured here takes both 3.5 and 2.5 inch drives.

  8. Designer Dale macrumors 68040

    Designer Dale

    Mar 25, 2009
    Folding space
    ^^^ that's my backup system but from a different manufacturer and running off an eSATA interface on an 08 MacBook pro. The full size drive has partitions for my system drive (ssd) and home folder (hdd). The smaller drive is my Aperture and pictures folder backup.

    The older MBP computers had Express34 slots that took cards that provided direct interfaces to the sata bus in the computer allowing expansion like this. The newer ones don't have this slot and it's a shame they did away with it, but then again Thunderbolt is better at this. I need two cards, one can run two drives but isn't bootable and the other is bootable but only runs one drive. When I need to boot from my backup I need to change cards and eject the Aperture disk before restarting.


Share This Page