Advice For Photographers On Organising Hard Drives | Dear Devlin

Dear Devlin.

I can never organise my hard drives in a logical way. How to set up folders is a minefield for me. I have 1 5tb 2 4tb and 2 2tb.
Don’t use cloud as no idea how to do that or where to get or what to store that doesn’t cost a total fortune

Unorganised from Mess Land

Hello Unorganised from Mess Land, this is a great question. Whilst you will easily find lots of advice out there on how to create images, you will struggle to find much on how to safely store them afterward. However, it is an extremely important part of your service.

It might surprise you to know that I still have either the negatives or the raw files from all the weddings that I have shot. Yes, 22 whole years worth!

For me, I believe that it’s part of our obligation to our clients. Someone can come back to me at any time and regain access to their photos. Anyone who has shot weddings for a least a decade will know that on significant anniversaries, couples come back to you, when a Loved One passes away, couples come back to you.

It’s a legacy that you tend for them.

With any kind of data storage, you want two things.

1. A logical system.
2. A least one backup.

Best Way for Photographers to Organise Their Hard Drives

My logical system is very simple – to always name folders with the couple’s names. I also rename their files with both their venue and names. The inherent storage facility on my iMac sorts everything into months for the past year and years beyond that. So it’s not hard to find anything.

It’s good that you have external drives as you really do not want to store raw files on a computer. But please be aware that drives can fail and it’s a nightmare if they do. Imagine you can no longer open one. Sending them off for data recovery is expensive and not always effective. You really do not ever want to be in that situation.

So instead of waking up at night stressing about this stuff, get yourself a failsafe system in place. I use a Raid System – these are units that house the external hard drives and if there’s ever an issue with one, they move the data to protect it. You can then simply remove the failed drive and replace it with a new one. The system I use is by Drobo. I have two that sit on my desk


Best Cloud Backup for Photographers

In addition, I use an online backup system called Backblaze. This belt and braces system means that if something truly terrible happened, and I could no longer access those Drobos – house burned to the ground or cat knocks huge mug of tea over my desk – then all of my internal and external hard drives are accessible in some ginormous cloud somewhere.

Yes, these things all cost money but nowhere near as much as I used to spend on film and developing. It amazes me how new photographers will buy all the Presets going but then feel reluctant to invest in good storage.

It’s like insurance, you pay for it and don’t see any benefit until the day that something happens and you need it – really, really need it.