Maintaining multiple copies of your photos is the only sure way to safeguard your image collection. Longtime readers know I lost several hundred photos back when digital imaging was new and I didn’t know any better. (Yes, even brand-new, top-of-the-line computers can suffer a hard drive failure.) Even with the high-grade drives and solid-state models common today, redundancy is the only safe bet.
A general strategy goes like this. The image library on your computer is backed up to an external drive at home, plus another external drive that you update frequently and keep somewhere else, maybe at work. Or, your remote backup is an online service (see sidebar). If your computer hard drive fails, your external backup has you covered, and in the event that some catastrophe at home wipes them both out, your remote backup is still there.
Whether you need to archive tens or hundreds or even thousands of gigabytes of photos and video, there are lots of options at prices that are more affordable than ever. Data storage is one of the few tech necessities that’s consistently less expensive year after year, on a price-per-gigabyte basis.
Buffalo Drivestation Duo RX1
List Price: From $229 (2 TB) to $699 (8 TB)
This 2-drive RAID model can be configured either as RAID 0 for maximum storage capacity or as mirrored RAID 1 for data redundancy. When using as a RAID 1, you’ll actually have half of the listed capacity (i.e., a 2 TB model will provide only 1 TB of storage).
Capacities Available: 2 TB, 4 TB, 6 TB, 8 TB
Interface: USB 3.0
Dimensions (HxWxD): 5.0×3.4×8.1 inches
G-Technology G-Dock EV with Thunderbolt
List Price: $749; additional drives from $149
With the ultrafast Thunderbolt interface and a unique "ejectable" drive design, the G-Dock ev makes it easy to bring a copy of your photo archive wherever you go. Take a drive with you for backups while traveling via USB 3.0 connectivity, then dock the drive back home for fast file transfers. Or, configure the drives in a RAID 1 for mirrored redundancy. Two docking 1 TB G-Drives are included, and additional G-Drives are available separately.
Capacities Available: 2 TB
Interface: Thunderbolt (G-Dock enclosure); USB 3.0 (G-Drive)
Dimensions (HxWxD): 3.5×5.1×7.9 inches
LaCie Blade Runner
List Price: $299
Inventive industrial design by Philippe Starck meets big capacity storage in this limited-edition drive from LaCie. Its unusual appearance isn’t the only futuristic feature: An "Eco Mode" intelligently reduces power consumption by up to 75% with automatic standby enabled. Even with the designer finish, it’s competitive on a price-per-gigabyte basis.
Capacities Available: 4 TB
Interface: USB 3.0
Dimensions (HxWxD): 2.9×7.6×5.6 inches