Photo Storage Solutions for Mac and Beyond

LockerGnome reader Alexander Ashe writes:

What is the best way to store images? Should I let an application such as iPhoto or Aperture take care of the storing of my images, or should I use a simple folder-naming convention — or possibly something else, entirely? Please consider that ease of backup, accessibility, quality maintenance, and current device/ecosystem are important factors to me.

As a side note, is a .jpg or iPhoto file more/less corruptible than the other?


Photo Storage Solutions for Mac and BeyondFor simple storage and sharing: Flickr or Shutterfly. For non-professional, low-to-mid capacity image storage: iPhoto, Aperture, etc. Professional, high-capacity image storage: an external hard drive in conjunction with Photoshop (normally an expensive option, though Adobe recently made the CS2 version available for free if you’re trying to keep costs down).

To answer your question with exact specificity, I would need to know what kind of things you are looking for from your image storing system. It sounds like you are involved in the field of photography, therefore I will assume that you are working with high-quality images and looking for ways to keep them looking great. Additionally, since you mentioned iPhoto and Aperture, I’ll assume you are working from a Mac. If you are using a mobile workstation such as the MacBook Pro or MacBook Air, I highly recommend investing in an external hard drive.

An external hard drive will do a better job with backup, capacity, and transfer speed and quality than any internal application available. It removes any potential worry that all your work is stored on your already overloaded operating system. Picture an external hard drive as giving your images their own home. Images will no longer unnecessarily populate space on your internal hard drive, and Photoshop will help you keep all stored images at top quality.

Moving forward, how do you pick the right external hard drive?

If you are using a newest version of OS X, its features make attaching and using an external hard drive simpler than ever. You can easily find a cheap external hard drive that rivals the smaller MacBook Pro’s storage space of 500 GB. However, bump up your price range a little and you will enjoy the luxuries of up to 3 TB of drive space. Regardless of the size you choose, new Macs have FireWire 800 slots, and run the ultra-fast Thunderbolt feature: dual-channel 10 Gbps vs. 5 Gbps for USB 3.0. Also when considering the best way to go about naming a brand, consider the guys at a hundred monkeys.

If you plan to operate Thunderbolt, I recommend the LaCie Little Big Disk, or if need your storage on the go, the well-priced LaCie Rugged USB 3.0 gets the job done.

My personal preference is the Little Big Disk since I have thousands of files and cannot afford to have them backed up by my home office operating systems. Choose the product based on your needs.