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Old Aug 9, 2011, 7:06 AM   #11
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What works for me is to take such mediocre photos that I don't worry about them getting lost or destroyed in a fire. There's a simple solution to everything: you just have to be simple enough to see it.
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Old Aug 9, 2011, 8:57 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by tclune View Post
What works for me is to take such mediocre photos that I don't worry about them getting lost or destroyed in a fire. There's a simple solution to everything: you just have to be simple enough to see it.
LOL! -- Now that's funny! -- LOL!
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Old Aug 9, 2011, 9:25 AM   #13
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Originally Posted by tswen View Post
You can use your primary hard drive in your computer to store files, but i strongly suggest you do not. Editing photos, saving them, moving them, all lead to fragmentation which will degrade the performance of the computer since the computer has to use more time "finding" all the pieces of the files.
Fragmentation is going to happen on an external drive, too. ;-)

But, Windows 7 has a built in feature to defragment your files. I've got my Win 7 installs setup to defragment all attached drives at 1:00AM once/week on Wednesday, and when I just checked one of computers with multiple drives, it's showing all of them at 0% Fragmentation, with August 3rd as the last time they've been Defragmented. IOW, there is so little fragmentation over a week with typical usage, it's negligible.

If you click on Computer, right click on a Drive, select Properties, and click on Disk Tools, you'll see a choice to degragment a drive. If you select it, you'll see a screen with more choices that let you analyze your drive fragmentation, schedule defragmentation for drives (and you can pick the drives that get defragmented), if it automatically degragments new drives you install and more.

Any performance degradation from fragmentation is not a big deal if you defragment on a regular basis. But, where you can benefit from having more than one drive is because of less head movement due to moving between reading program files to reading and writing image/data files.

IOW, with a single [physical versus Solid State) drive, the drive heads would need to read from the program files and then move to the image files (moving back and forth across the platters a lot, depending on what you're doing). Of course, more RAM helps (since the Operating System can use it for Disk Cache to reduce physical disk reads to frequently accessed sectors like the libraries used by your image processing apps).

But, having two drives can improve performance since you wouldn't have as much head movement with the programs on one drive and the data on another. You'd also increase throughput by having more bandwidth to two drives (provided your data drive is attached via eSATA, SATA or USB 3.0). But, if your data drive is USB 2.0 attached, you're going to decrease performance significantly (as USB 2.0 is very slow in comparison).

Originally Posted by Outhouse View Post
Right now, I use the laptop hard drive as my primary and I have a USB backup drive that I keep at my office after I back up the files at home. I think I am going to get another USB drive as my primary drive and keep using the other USB drive as my back up. I do appreciate the need to keep the backups away from the source.
Why (use a USB Drive as your primary drive)? USB 3.0 would be OK. But, since your Dell Studio laptop is using a Core i5 520M, that tells me it's USB ports are USB 2.0 versus USB 3.0. Dell didn't start including USB 3.0 ports until the latest generation of laptops using Sandy Bridge chipsets. For example, the newer model Dell laptops using CPUs like the Core i5 2410M, 2520M, etc. usually include both USB 2.0 and USB 3.0 ports. But, not with the previous generation.

USB 2.0 is very slow compared to your internal SATA drive, or compared to eSATA or USB 3.0 attached drives. IOW, working on images on a USB 2.0 attached drive is going to be a lot slower compared to working on them from your internal SATA drive.

Now, one of your USB ports is a USB 2.0/eSATA combo port. So, an eSATA attached drive would be a good bet for fast access to an external drive.

You could get a docking station like I mentioned in my earlier post that attaches via eSATA. I've got one of these (Thermaltake BlacX). They're about as inexpensive as any of them, as this one is now $27.99 with free shipping (or even less after the rebate, but I never count on rebates working).


It comes with an A/C Adapter, USB and eSATA cables. Basically, you'd put it on a desktop and plug in the A/C adapter to power it, and then use the eSATA cable to connect it to the USB 2.0/eSATA combo port on your Dell laptop.

Then, you could use any bare SATA drive (2.5" or 3.5") you wanted to in it (you just plug in a drive to the slot on the top). It's got a small round button for power, and a square button on the front to help you remove a drive you've inserted.

Another option would be to get an ExpressCard with USB 3.0 ports on it and go with USB 3.0 attached external drives (using a docking station with USB 3.0 ports) instead of eSATA if your Dell model has an ExpressCard slot in it. Here are some ExpressCards with USB 3.0 ports available.


Here are some docking stations with USB 3.0 support:


This one at $29.99 delivered looks like a good bet (it came up first in the last list).


Here's one that supports two bare SATA drives via one USB 3.0 connection that even has a cooling fan built in. It could come in handy for copying from one external drive to another without the need to hookup two docking stations.


But, frankly, if I were in your shoes and didn't really need more space yet, I'd probably consider something like the Seagate Momentus XT (the XT is a hybrid drive) instead of the drive you're using in your laptop. Then, just stay with a single drive solution for convenience until you had a need for more space, using your existing drive as a backup (clone it), along with the external drive you're already using for backups. It's only $99.95 delivered (not much more than a standard 500GB laptop drive).


Why? it's got 4GB of fast SLC NAND memory onboard and still gives you 500GB of total disk space. Basically, the drive firmware analyzes drive usage and stores frequently accessed sectors in the 4GB solid state portion of the drive for faster access. That gives you much faster Windows boot times, along with faster load times for frequently used apps. What's also interesting is how much performance is improved on the Photoshop Retouch Artist benchmarks. My guess is that some of the Photoshop program DLLs are kept in the fast SLC memory onboard due to reduce physical disk reads for that type of activity. I suspect you'd see similar performance gains with image processing apps like Lightroom, too.

See the benchmarks on this page of a multi-page review about it, and note how much faster the Momentus XT (hybrid drive) is compared to a standard Seagate Momentus 500GB laptop drive for those types of tasks (booting Windows, loading programs like Photoshop, image processing benchmarks):


The Seagate Momentus XT Hybrid is a 7200rpm drive with 32MB of cache with 4GB of fast SLC NAND memory onboard; whereas the standard 500GB Seagate Momentus (non XT version) is a 5400rpm drive with 16MB of cache (typical for 500GB laptop drives unless they're relatively new models).

Then, just use your existing drive as another backup (use something like the BlacX docking station which lets you plug in a 2.5" drive) and clone them so that one is an exact sector by sector copy of the other. You'll find a number of software packages that can do that for you (for example, Acronis True Image is popular).

I'd just download a copy of Clonezilla Live, burn it to CD, then boot into it. Here's a download link for the latest stable version:


It can do a device to device clone for you. Basically, you could put the new drive into a docking station, boot into Clonezilla Live, select the device to device copy choice, and clone your internal drive to the new drive in the docking station. Then, swap them and keep the old one as another backup that you could boot into in the event of a drive failure.

Or, you could use the Seagate Disc Wizard to clone them. Basically, it's just a limited OEM version of Acronis True Image. Get it here:


You say you've used around 1/3 of your disk space (you said 450GB, but I think that's just your NTFS partition size, which is what you're seeing for C: It's probably a 500GB drive with 3 partitions on it, which is how Dell sets up drives in laptops with Win 7 on them. Dell installs a small utility partition, followed by a recovery partition, followed by an NTFS partition (used for Windows as C: ).

Since you've only used 1/3 of the space on your NTFS partiton, and some of that usage is from your Operating System and Program Files) it sounds like you've got some time before you need to worry about more space. So, I'd consider something like a Hybrid (500GB Seagate Momentus XT for only $99.95 delivered) to increase performance, while maintaining the convenience of a single drive, and giving you a way to keep a disk image backup of everything (just by using your existing drive as a clone).

Then, down the road when you do need more space, buy newer drives when the price/GB is lower. Technology advances at a rapid pace. So, I'd wait until you really need more space before spending much (so you'll be able to get larger and faster drives later for the same money). ;-)

Or, if you really don't care about the convenience of having everything in a single drive (you're using your laptop more like a desktop), and you don't mind spending more towards increasing performance right now, you could go with smaller and faster SSD for the operating system and programs, then go with an eSATA or USB 3.0 attached drive for your images and data files (or use your existing drive in a docking station for data after replacing it with an SSD). I'd still make sure to have separate backups if going that route (as drive failures do happen).

You can see a lot of different SSD models over at newegg.com (and I'd make sure to read through user reviews, keeping drive reliability in mind):


Anandtech and Tom's Hardware have comparisons of newer models on a regular basis. Here's a recent "roundup" of mid range drives from June.


Personally, I'd lean towards models with the latest Sandforce Controllers (used by a number of SSD manufacturers) if I were buying a new SSD right now, probably going with a 120GB drive. But, there are pros and cons to any of them.
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Old Aug 9, 2011, 11:53 AM   #14
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storing data its is only safe if it is stored in 2 places or if you have a raid or mirror backup system.
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Old Aug 9, 2011, 12:48 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by wave01 View Post
...or if you have a raid or mirror backup system.
Although a fault tolerant drive arrangement (RAID 1 Disk Mirroring, Multiple disks in a RAID 5 setup, etc.) can help protect you from down time caused by a drive failure; I wouldn't consider my data to be safe that way.

Human error, problems caused by buggy software, malware and more can still destroy your data. ;-)

So, the first part of your post is a better bet (make sure you have any important data stored in more than one place).

It's also a good idea to keep a copy of any important data at another physical location (to help guard against data loss from fire, flood, theft, etc.).
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Old Aug 9, 2011, 3:37 PM   #16
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Probably best to keep one set of backups in a titanium vault buried in your backyard, another in an armored car driving a random pattern around the country, and a third stored at the International Space station (in case the planet blows up).
can't guarantee 100% reliability, but should be pretty secure for most stuff.

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