Previous Tip    Back to Index    Next Tip

Archive of Photography Tips

Are all of your photos stored on your computer's single hard drive?

Tip Provided by Dave

Here's the reason that I ask a question like that. Hard disk drives have a definite life expectancy because they're primarily mechanical devices (a spinning platter and movable pick-up head). Eventually your hard drive may begin to make noises, behave erratically or in the worst case, the heads may crash against the platter and damage its delicate surface.
Most estimates by the drive manufacturers themselves put the mean time between failures as 3 to 5 years, but a lot depends upon serendipity. I lost a hard drive last year after only about 5 months of operation, far too soon. Fortunately, it wasn't a total crash, but just sluggish operation and strange noises. Before it went any farther, I installed a second new hard drive, cloned everything over from the old drive, then removed it and put another new one in it's place. So now I have two new hard drives, which I keep updated daily so that they're exact clones of each other. If one were to fail, I could boot up on the second drive and have all of my programs and other data (including my photos) up-to-date and ready to go. A good sized hard drive (15GB to 20GB) can be purchased today for about $100 (US), which is pretty reasonable. An easy-to-use cloning program is another $20 to $30 (US).
I prefer the first idea for my own computer, but it may not suit everyone, so here's another suggestion. If you have a CD burner (CD-RW drive), you might at least want to think about making an updated CD of your photo albums every week or so. CD-R disks are very inexpensive (50 cents each or less here in the states), and that's a very small price to pay to prevent having all of your hard work lost in just a split second. So it's not a bad idea to either consider a second hard drive, or at least to get into the habit of making backup CDs of your digital photograph albums at regular intervals. You'll be glad that you did.

Dave I use the CDR_RW drive all the time due my backups and also put all my photos on CR_R even though my picture are all recorded on CD_R to begin with. Then I delete them from my machine and work off of the CD~s. Find it easier to look at them and organize them into folders and easier to find than on the orginal cd-r they are save on in my camera. Sure hope my computer hard drive last longer than 5 years as it is just 4 years old next Dec. So far have had no problems at all with it . Thanks for the tip. If ones hard drive should go can you just purchase new hard drive and slip it in . My son in law just added 128 mg of ram to my comp and that was very easy to do. Figured I needed it when working with the photo programs.

It depends upon your computer Barb, sometimes it's as simple as setting the proper jumpers, plugging it in, formatting it, setting up a logical DOS partition and enabling it as a bootable drive. But here's the big question ... now what? All of your programs are gone, you have nothing but a blank drive. First you'll have to load Windows, set it up the way you want it, download the updates, etc., etc. Now the daunting task of reloading everything that you had (or at least want to keep) on your old drive, from the original disks or downloads for those various programs. That can take days, believe me, I had to do it once, and once was enough :-) According to the experts, your hard drive will fail one day, whether you buy a new machine before that day is the only question mark.

Previous Tip    Back to Index    Next Tip