April 9, 2007 HelpLine
Need More Space
Q) I'm running out of room on my hard drives! While I've been archiving my original images to DVDs, I have hundreds of images on my computer. I'd like to add more storage, but I'm not sure which direction to go.
A) As image sizes keep increasing and memory cards decrease in cost, more and more images are finding their way to computer hard drives. Expansion of storage space is becoming increasingly critical with digital photography. Your expansion options relate to whether you want internal or external storage.
You can add a drive to the inside of your computer if there's both physical room and the available internal ports and power cable. On the Windows side of things, the ports could be something called ATA (or sometimes called IDE). Newer computers use a technology that's the serial version of ATA called SATA. Most Macs now use SATA, though older systems might have SCSI connections. The downside of installing internal drives is the need to take apart your computer. If you feel comfortable with that, then it's the best option for speedy storage; if you're not, you can always hire someone to do it.
With external storage, your options are likely either USB or FireWire. USB is commonly found on Windows machines, but you need to make sure that you have a high-speed USB connection. It's also important that you not have low-speed devices, like keyboards and mice, connected to the high-speed USB port. On the Mac side of things, you also have access to FireWire. USB and FireWire 400 have approximately the same speeds, though FireWire has a higher speed option, FireWire 800. The latter is less common and you'll only find it on higher-end Macs.
External SATA drives (E-SATA) are now starting to become available, and the interface offers a speed increase even greater than FireWire 800.