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Storage for photographers: Best practices for storing and archiving images

In today’s digital age, creating an efficient way of storing and archiving images is essential for any photographer’s workflow. Whether or not you’re a professional photographer, it is important to take a professional approach to photo storage. In this article, we discuss our best practices to ensure your images are stored securely and efficiently for decades to come.

1 - Invest in high-quality storage devices

XS2000 SSD on a laptop sits on the grass, a camera is in the foreground

The most important aspect of storing and archiving your images is investing in reliable storage devices. You need to trust that your storage device will keep your images safe and secure. The most popular storage device used by photographers is the solid-state drive (SSD), as it is designed for durability and reliability. SSDs are also faster than traditional hard drives, which will increase the efficiency of your workflow. Most photographers will also use an external SSD as a backup drive, they are a great option for your secondary storage option, as you can offload images and files and then gain immediate access to them wherever you are. The XS2000 SSD offers speeds up to 2,000MB/s with USB 3.2 Gen 2x2 and is available in capacities up to 4TB and the XS1000 SSD offers read speeds up to 1,050MB/s and is available in capacities up to 2TB.

2 - Consider using a RAID System

Professional photographers who need to store large amounts of data might want to consider a RAID (Redundant Array of Independent Disks) system for their trusted storage option. It is a storage technology which combines multiple drives into a single unit, which provides protection in case one of the drives fail. RAID systems are more expensive than buying a single SSD but offer great reliability and data protection.

3 - Create a strong backup system

Always have a backup! You never know what might happen to your primary storage device, it might be subject to theft, physical damage or computer viruses which can be devastating both professionally and personally. A best practice is to use the traditional 3-2-1 backup strategy whereby you have three copies of your data, two locally and one off-site. This strategy gives you the best chance of ensuring you are always backed up, and you can rest easy knowing your images will always be protected. Also, remember to keep your backup system updated. A good practice is to stick to a schedule, such as backing up your images every week or month. Develop an ironclad backup strategy that makes it impossible to lose any of your images.

4 - Use file naming conventions

Every photographer will have their own way of archiving their images, so it is important to find the process that works for you. Using a consistent file naming system will help keep your images organised and will make it easier to search for a specific image. A common system is to include the date, location and subject of the image in the file name, so an image taken of the Kingston Technology office in California on the 1st March 2023 would be marked 'Kingston Technology_California_01-03-2023’. Stay consistent and organised, you’ll thank yourself in years to come!

5 - Use metadata or keywords and tags

Metadata is information that is embedded in the image file and can be used to provide additional context about an image. The benefit is it makes it easier to search and sort through your image library, for example, if you’re looking for images of Kingston SSDs, you will just be able to search 'Kingston SSDs’ to find all images in your library. Keywords and tags have the same effect. Software like Adobe Bridge is great for adding tags and metadata for images and Google Photos is a great cloud storage option that can edit metadata. You should research photo cataloguing software thoroughly to make sure it will meet your needs. Some software will store some types of metadata outside of the file in a database which could mean the metadata will be lost if it is moved to another location, while others will write the metadata to the file itself. Get familiar with the types of image metadata such as EXIF, IPTC and XMP and the purpose of each.

These are some of the best practices that every photographer should introduce into their workflow. By doing so, you can store and archive your images in a secure and organised way to ensure they are available for years to come.