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One of my life's biggest privileges is teaching college age students photography. And very frequently these students will come to me and say, Chris, okay, I know I need to get a hard drive and have good digital asset management practices and workflow, so what do I need to consider? What do I need to think about? Well, here what I want to do is share with you some general and conceptual recommendations when it comes to purchasing and working with hard drives. One of the first things that you need to consider is that you're going to need different types of hard drives.
In other words, we all need these little small portable devices that we can take with us. We'll also need drives that will sit next to our computers. Another thing to consider is that whenever you purchase a drive you never want to purchase just one by itself. Rather, you at least and ideally want to buy two, or perhaps you want to be even more secure, you want to buy rather than two, you'll pick up three. Now why is that? In order to have a good digital asset management workflow, you want to copy your data to one, two, or ideally three drives.
You want to have your information redundant or backed up in multiple places. Perhaps what that means is you go on a trip and you bring two hard drives with you. So that all the photographs you captured are on two different drives. And then when you come home you copy those to a third drive, and you put that one in a fire-proof safe in a different location. Again, redundancy can really help you out. Another thing that you need to consider is that when you purchase a drive, no matter how good the drive is, eventually it's going to crash and it's going to die.
And I know that's kind of startling to think about but it's going to happen because of entropy and all the moving parts in these devices. You need to know that. Now we already know that when it comes to computers, right? Typically we'll use a computer for three or five or maybe, if we're lucky, seven years. Well, the same thing is true with hard drives. So here's what I do. I pay attention to them. When I buy a drive I put a label on it with my name, phone number, email address, and also the date when I began using it.
That way as the years pass I can look at that and say, oh my gosh, this drive, well, it's seven years old I need to retire it. And when you're working with hard drives you want to think about saving this data over the long haul, right? And one of the things that we know is that hard drives and space and storage, it just gets cheaper-and-cheaper. Therefore, upgrading isn't that much of a financial issue or impact, rather we have to be disciplined about knowing when to do that.
So in the future we could take three drives and then copy those to one. And that's a really important step when it comes to working with and saving the data that we have on these different devices. Of course another thing to consider is their capacity and also speed and reliability. And you can find a lot about this information by asking other friends or doing some searches online. You want to buy hard drives that are reputable. In other words when it comes to purchasing a drive, you don't want to save money.
You don't want to skimp. You want to invest in something which is going to last. It's really important, especially because hard drives really aren't that expensive when you consider all of the important information; all of those valuable and wonderful photographs that you save on these devices. Another thing to consider, say, if you're working with a RAID device, is how you can access that. Some devices like the Drobo for example, which is what I use -- I have multiple Drobos -- there is software which allows you to access that.
You can set things up so there is automatic backup and also so that it sends me an email. If one of these drives have failed so I can swap it out, put another one in without losing any of the data. Now whenever you purchase a hard drive it may be worthwhile to go to the manufacturer's web site and learn a little bit more about things like the software or reliability. Read some reviews. So again as you think about working with hard drives, the main point is this: you want to manage this process rather than just haphazardly buying a drive which is inexpensive and using that until it dies.
You want to think about how you can apply perhaps some methods or some methodology to this overall process. Whether that means buying multiple drives at once, labeling them, paying attention to how old they are, also getting in the habit of upgrading or updating these drives. Again, you don't want to wait until disaster strikes. You want to be ahead of the game. And I think if you do that and if you have that approach, well your data it will overall be much more secure.
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