Photographers take photos, and photos need to live somewhere. In the past it was shoeboxes for consumers and filling cabinets for pros with sleeves full of slides and negatives. With digital has come the need to be careful with storage, hard disk storage. The basic rule is that hard disks are going to fail, until they actually do. With this in mind I keep multiple copies of photos and documents on multiple different systems.
Silverstone DS322 – USB3 dual bay RAID
The Silverstone DS322 is a new bit of kit for me. I’ve been using IcyDock boxes with multiple disks in as my working photo drives for a number of years, and they have served me well. Their Firewire connections have been “fast enough” but with some changes in my computers then USB3 is even faster and more appealing. I’ve looked around and purchased the diminutive Silverstone DS322. A solid metal sleeve with plastic ends that takes two regular 3.5-inch hard disks and puts them on the end of a fast USB3 cable.
I set this up to be RAID 0 and using the Black Magic Design Disk Speed tool I can get a good steady 150MB/s read and write to them. I chose the RAID 0 for speed not redundancy, I’m using relatively slow Western Digital 1TB RED drives at the moment for their durability. For comparison the same computer I connect the DS322 to has a slow old 1TB 5400RPM drive directly connected to the internal SATA connection, it gives around 85MB/s with the Disk Speed tool.
I back up the working photo drive to a RAID 5 NAS box each and every day so within 24 hours I have copies in multiple locations. I time the back up to be around 4am to ensure it gets the full days work and is ready and done in time for early starts 🙂
USB3 vs FW800
The USB3 RAID 0 Silvertsone box runs faster on the same computer than the old IcyDock did connected using FW800. I’m even using the same pair of Western Digital 1TB RED drives. Of course the USB2 connection on my older laptop is not as fast as the Firewire 800 I used to connect to the photos with, but there’s a new laptop on the horizon that will have USB3.
The case is solid aluminium, but the front and rear are plastic. I think the front panel is a bit too cheap in look for the rest of the box, and quite easy to knock off. But once the box is kitted out with drives and running the right firmware it will just sit out of the way and work. The aluminium casing is very rigid and dissipates heat well – though the WD RED drives don’t generate much heat anyway.
Mac users, you’ll need a PC too 🙁The Silverstone DS322 I purchased needed a firmware update to play nice with USB3 and Apple computers. The firmware is easy to find and download from the Silverstone website, but once unpacked it was obvious it needs a Windows PC to run on, doh! So firing up a handy Windows machine – odd combination of words; handy & windows – I installed the firmware update on the box and it became very Mac friendly. It’s a shame this step is necessary and that there’s no way to do the update from the Mac.
Backup, Backup and more…
- Copy from the camera cards to the working photo drive, using PhotoMechanic to organise, caption, keyword and initially cull the pictures
- Import the remainder in to Lightroom for refining, more keywords and basic post
- Final files are kept and left in the folders with the source RAW images. I use the 16-bit TIFF that Lightroom likes to use.
- Every 24 hours I use a backup tool that finds any new or changed files on my “working pictures” drive and copies them to the NAS box.
- Every week, the NAS box will do a backup of the photo collection to another drive
- Every month swap over the NAS backup drive and move it offsite.