what to look at before buying one or the other

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We photographers divide ourselves between those who have lost their photographs and those who are going to lose them. We can never be sure. For this reason, we have to be very careful when saving our files. What do we photographers have to look at when buying a hard drive?


This is a useful guide for those who are looking for the best device to store all their files with the least possible risk and without breaking the bank. And by the way see how they can avoid losing, as late as possible, the occasional photograph.

The method I use It has worked for me for over 20 years and if I have lost photographs it has been because I left the marked path. Do not expect something that will change your lives, it is something logical and far-sighted, nothing more.

I am a professional photographer and what I am going to recommend may be exaggerated for many of you.. But many of my students have adopted it and have had no problems since. One of the pillars of the method is, of course, choosing the hard drives well.

A hard drive to store; another to work

hard drives for photographers

The inside of a HDD hard drive

To begin with, I would never bet on unknown brands. Keep in mind that you are saving your work or your memories. And you can’t imagine how many people admit that because they don’t have a decent hard drive, they’ve lost part of their life story when it crashes.

I have always trusted brands like wd, Toshiba and the series Lacie’s D2. I do not trust the low prices of other brands and I do not need, as a photographer, vertigo speeds on storage disks.

Of course, it is important to have a fast and reliable hard drive to install the operating system and the programs with which we work. In short, a photographer should have at least one storage disk and another to work fluently.

The importance of hard drives for photographers

Photographers depend on the work we have done. We have to preserve it for the future. Our photographs are our livelihood (if we are professionals) or our daily life (if we are amateurs). As the years go by, it may acquire more value, especially sentimental.

Buying guide to make backup copies: hard drives, NAS and USB sticks for the backups of your devices

There is such a variety of hard drives on the market that we can feel overwhelmed. Not only because of the brands that we can find, but because of the different types that exist. The fundamental thing is to choose the one that suits us best according to the use that we are going to give it.. Several aspects must be taken into account, such as the connection, the size, its technology and the rotation speed.

Photographers (and other professions and hobbies) use hard drives in two ways:

  1. To work with data and programs.
  2. To store the files.

And for each of these uses I recommend a type of hard drive, especially if we depend on the money we have in the bank. If not, we buy the latest generation SSD and that’s it. But surely most of us will have a limited budget.

Types of storage that we can find in the market

This is not the time to do a deep analysis of all the hard drives that we can find on the market, although there are two basic options:

  • hdd: Hard drives with mechanical parts that permanently store data and use magnetism to record it. Inside they have hard disks that rotate at a certain speed. The faster they do it, the faster the data is transmitted.
  • SSD: they lack mechanical parts and store information in microchip with interconnected flash memories. Everything depends on a processor and its efficiency marks the speed of the disk. In fact it is not a hard disk, but a non-volatile memory, like a USB.
Hard drives for photographers

The inside of a hard drive

And although prices have dropped, SSDs are still considerably more expensive than HDDs and have less storage capacity. In return they are much faster, and this is the interesting thing… A photographer needs speed and storage… The key is to use both..

It should not be forgotten that both hard drives and SSDs are not eternal, so we have to know if we can amortize them during their useful life.

Types of connections

If you go into any online store to look for a hard drive, or go to the physical store, they will surely ask you this. And we can collapse for not knowing the answer… Choosing one or the other connection will make everything work as expected or it will be a disaster.

Within the internal disks we have to have SATA or SAS connections (faster than SATA). And if we want to buy an NVMe M.2 SSD, we will have to have a PCI Express connection.

In the end it all depends on the computer we have. It is not the same to work with a tower than with a laptop. And you have to have the specifications of the motherboard to know what is the fastest connection you can use.

hard drives for photographers

The USB connection

If what we want is an external disk, everything is simpler. It is only necessary to choose the type of USB that our computer has. And pray that it is the fastest, USB 3.2.

Hard drives in the daily life of a photographer

I have been working as a photographer for many years. To give you an idea, I started shooting with reels. But I adapted to the digital maelstrom. And I regret not having done it sooner. After many computers, many tests and the occasional error, this is the way i enjoy hard drives as a photographer.

hard drives for photographers

I always recommend that the drives be large, 3.5″, to avoid the temptation to move them.

  • I use a lot of editing programs on the computer, so I installed an SSD for C:. The operating system and programs fly on the 250 GB Samsung SSD 980 PRO PCIe 4.0 NVMe M.2.
  • For the storage of all my photographs (I always keep them all together to avoid losing them) I have a 8TB internal hard drive. So I can access all of them at any time and with the maximum speed it offers thanks to the SATA 3 connection (300MB/s). It only arrives at 5400rpmbut rarely have I needed more access speed.
  • As a backup I always work with two external hard drives with the same capacity as the internal one. I always have the first one connected, through a USB 3.1 port, to the computer. Every week I make a backup.
  • I have the second in another house, to make a backup copy every month in another place. It sounds very old, but I assure you that it is infallible.
  • In addition, I have connected internally to the computer two SSDs for program catalogs and cache. Advantages of working with a tower.

To end

As you can see, photographers cannot live without our hard drives. Of course it is possible to bet entirely on the cloud, with support services such as carbonite, backblaze or the same Amazon Photos.


Seagate BarraCuda, 8TB, Internal Hard Drive, HDD, 3.5"SATA 6 Gb/s, 7200 RPM, 256 MB Cache for Desktop and PC, Rip-Off Package (ST8000DMZ04)

Seagate BarraCuda, 8TB, Internal Hard Drive, HDD, 3.5″, SATA 6Gb/s, 7200RPM, 256MB Cache for Desktop and PC, Rip-Off Package (ST8000DMZ04)

But with the data in our house, we will have more layers of security. Do not forget that we need disks to work, that they must be fast; and storage disks, which do not need to be the latest generation, but rather have enough capacity to store all our shots.

  • In work disks we have to look especially at the reading and writing speed that comes in MB/s. It is incredible the speed reached by NVMe disks, which reach 7000MB/s. And of course you don’t need to have a lot of capacity. If you are not going to load many programs with 250-500 GB it is more than enough.
  • However, in storage disks we have to look above all at space. With 8TB most photographers will have more than enough to last a lifetime, so we can look at smaller capacities. The transfer speed drops a lot, up to 600MB/s with the fastest connection, the SATA-3. If we really want to reach that speed, what we have to look at in the specifications is that it be of 7200rpm.

Samsung SSD 980 PRO - Internal Solid State Drive, 1TB, NVMe, 7000MB/s, M.2

Samsung SSD 980 PRO – Internal Solid State Drive, 1TB, NVMe, 7000MB/s, M.2

And although it may seem crazy, it is preferable to have all the information on a single hard drive (with its backup copies) than on several. This will make it much more difficult to lose the occasional file. And above all, searches will be much faster.


WD My Book 8TB External Desktop Hard Drive, 3.5"USB3.0, Black

WD My Book 8TB 3.5″ External Desktop Hard Drive, USB 3.0, Black

Right now I have 173,000 photos stored on an 8TB drive, with their corresponding backups on external drives of the same size. AND I find any photograph in less than five seconds and I have direct access to it.

The mega-guide to SSD hard drives: types, technology and how to choose the best one for our PC

I have been using this system for many years. I adapt it on all the computers I have. For a few years I have also used the cloud to have an extra backup copy of the most important photographs, but with great caution. The fundamental thing, of course, is not to lose our photographs… But it is inevitable.

We photographers divide ourselves between those who have lost their photographs and those who are going to lose them. We…

We photographers divide ourselves between those who have lost their photographs and those who are going to lose them. We…

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