Home Hardware Storage Toolbox: Archival Storage
Thursday, January 18, 2007

Toolbox: Archival Storage

How the pros do it

The MTBF rating has to be considered along with the drive's service life, which is the length of time a drive can be expected to perform reliably before its internal components begin to wear and fail. Although the MTBF rating alone might make it appear that the drive should last for decades, it's more than likely that the internal moving parts will eventually fail, putting the data at risk.

While this specification is helpful in differentiating the quality of drives, photographers often rely on firsthand experience when choosing a drive. This is where a personal recommendation and information provided by photographers on photo- and computer-centric message boards are helpful.

Beyond capacity and reliability, another consideration for photographers when choosing a drive is rotation speed. Measured in revolutions per minute (rpm), the speed at which the hard drive disc moves will directly affect its ability to read and write data. The preferred speed for drives is 7,200 rpm, which is especially important if you're managing large numbers of high-resolution files. While 5,400 rpm is acceptable, slower drives deliver sluggish performance, especially when handling large, uncompressed image files. While such drives are less expensive, the delays they incur may not make the price worthwhile.

Because hard drives consist of moving parts, a unit's ability to dissipate heat is paramount. Heat can impact performance as well as reduce the life of the hard drive.

Most of today's single hard drives don't include a fan, but use the materials that make up the drive's housing to dissipate heat. Often made of polycarbonate, these drives also include vents (small openings to expel air) to help draw the heat away from the drive's internal components. The lack of a fan also makes such drives virtually noiseless.

Higher-capacity drives normally include multiple discs, whose resulting heat requires the inclusion of a fan. These fans are efficient, but can sometimes produce noise levels that may be irritating to some. It's important to consider the noise of a drive when shopping around.

As our image libraries grow, so does our need to secure them. Thankfully, we have products that are proving to be both affordable and reliable.


Delkin Device (800) 637-8087www.delkin.com
Epson (800) GO-EPSONwww.epson.com
Kanguru Solution (888) KANGURUwww.kanguru.com
LaCie (503) 844 4500
Maxtor (800) 2-MAXTOR
MicroSolutions (800) 890-7227www.micro-solutions.com
Olixir Technologies (800) 719-0595
Seagate (800) SEAGATEwww.seagate.com
SimpleTech (800) 367-7330www.simpletech.com
SmartDisk (239) 425-4000www.smartdisk.com
Verbatim (800) 538-8589www.verbatim.com
Western Digital (949) 672-7000 www.wdc.com


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