Thousands of photos. Storage and back up – where does it all go? You know yourself, a vacation can eat up significant hard drive space. I’ll share with you some strategies that might help you decide what works best.

If  you have any questions, you can post them right here – use the post comment box at the bottom.

USB hard drives for storage and back up

Memory prices are prone to gravitational pull and just keep going down. Good for us. USB ports have been standard on computers for years now. Many USB drives now run off the power in the USB port plug itself. Those bulky wall plugs, cords and power converters are gone. The USB drives themselves have become very small like Western Digital’s Passport Essentials. If you have several USB devices (printers, etc) and hard drives, I will suggest that you buy a USB hub that is powered into a wall plug. A USB hub allows you to add more devices when you run out of USB ports built into your computer.

I’ll show you what I’m doing. It suits my needs for a pretty high volume of digital files. You can decide what works for you.

I’m running both Windows and Mac OS platforms because cross platform testing in web site development is standard. The workhorse is the iMac where most work takes place (editing, building, programming, etc). However, whatever I’m using in terms of hardware and set up, can apply to your Windows operating system and PC. Same structures.

My hard drives list (the possibilities):

  1. Computer hard drive 500 GB (Macintosh HD or C drive for PC).
  2. Back up hard drive 1 TB (Time Machine is the back up application for Mac).
  3. Media hard drive 500 GB (Whatever you choose to name).
  4. New Volume – Other hard drives in storage can be added the USB hub if needed.

The 1 TB back up hard drive (2.) has two purposes. It backs up my computer hard drive (1.) and the media hard drive (3.). Any other drives are client drives for work completed more than 12 months ago that are not accessed or needed frequently.

So (2.) is the star and backs up (1.) and (3.).

Nutshell: You can use a larger USB hard drive to back up your computer and other USB hard drives.

Back Up Diagram by Marc Mantha

Most USB drives come with back up software. So you need to do your homework and Google for reviews. With the Mac OS, the standard back up application is Time Machine. In my experience, Time Machine has been stable, highly reliable and easy to use.

The notable advantage

You never have to add an internal hard drive  to your computer ever again. You can now take your back up with you anywhere you go to share photos, video, music and more.

Time Machine back up will travel

I’m available 24/7/365 so I need my complete office workstation on that back up drive, portable and ready to go. I’ll take the laptop then just plug in the Time Machine back up USB drive  for access to all my files, computer (1.) and media (3.). I can even upload all my emails and settings, say, if a client refers to an attachment that might be something I’ve received or sent. That’s only the tip of the iceberg.  Photos, music, email, client projects and more. Essentially it’s going to be the same for your Windows USB drive back ups.

I can’t begin to tell you all the tricks and juggling you can do with a nice big USB hard drive.  I hope you have a flavor for some of the possibilities. In 12 to 24 months, who knows, another follow up will be needed with the pace of change.

What is a back up?

Moving your files off of your computer hard drive is not a back up.

A back up is a second copy, separate from the computer hard drive, of files and media,  so that should the main hard drive, original files and media be compromised or destroyed, you have a second copy.

Today, that goes even further with progressive back up applications that can restore your computer, or where you can apply your back up to a new computer.

Solid state USB storage

They’re coming. Solid state means storage without moving parts like a memory card. They’ll be pricey for a while, but everything continues to shrink and prices to come down. Affordable larger size 1 TB solid state drives will be a while yet

How big is a terabyte?

1 terabyte is 1000000000000 bytes, or 1 trillion bytes, or 1000 gigabytes. The unit symbol for the terabyte is TB. And today, a TB USB hard drive is quite common and relatively inexpensive – under $200 approaching the $100 mark.

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