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SSD or HDD for storing Photos Library

  • #1
    Registered Users Posts: 11,710 ✭✭✭✭ Necronomicon

    I'm trying to give my 2014 Macbook Air a new lease of life. I plan on moving my Photos library to an external drive to save space.

    I have a paid iCloud plan, so the Photos library is optimized to save space on my Mac. Even still, it's 20GB. I'm looking for a hard drive to do two things:

    1) Store the default Photos Library (meaning I'd plug in the drive any time I wanted to use the app)

    2) Store a full back up (i.e. original, full resolution photos) of my library once a year.

    I'm wondering if an SSD would be overkill for this purpose. I don't travel with my MBA, so it's usually in one place, meaning I don't necessarily need the robustness. That said, I use Photos frequently, so I'm thinking the speed would be an advantage. But then again, my library is only going to get bigger, so maybe storage space is more important than speed.

    Appreciate any thoughts!

    Post edited by Sad Professor on


  • Suggestion (subject to your budget):

    Fit a 512GB or 1TB SSD to the Mac - massive increase in speed of the Mac, and plenty of space for current and future images.

    Additionally, buy an external HDD (2 or 3TB) for Time Machine or similar backups (SSDs are not immune to failure).

  • Thank you for the response! Since posting this I've been mulling over it, and I think I will go with a 5TB Seagate HDD. All things considered I think storage capacity is the most important thing - I'm shooting quite a bit of 4k video on my phone of late. I can sacrifice a bit of speed until SSDs are a bit more affordable at high storage capacities.

  • I got my 2016 iMac upgraded to SSD - I had to because the original drive it in was close to death, it could not cope after Mavericks went. It works really well now.

  • Be aware that for archival purposes, flash memory devices may not be ideal because these devices need to be connected to a power source fairly regularly in order to retain their data. The effect is heat dependent also and can be pretty bad - short data retention times - at higher temperatures. HDs are better, but for archival storage beyond ten years they are also likely to fail. Neither flash memory devices, nor HD's, are suitable for archival photo storage for decades.

    Slide film, on the other hand,e can still be in great shape after 60 years.

  • what are your actual storage requirements? 20GB is not much, you can get external storage for about €40. what i do is store two copies of my photos inside my (desktop) PC - i've one SSD and two spindle disks in it, each spindle disk has a full copy of my photos, and an external disk which is usually left in a relative's house, and taken home and mirrored every few months or as needs arise. that way i'm covered for both local hardware failure, and fire or theft.

    two cheapo external drives might do (with the caveat that actually working on 4K video off an external disk is probably a non-starter!)

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  • Thank you for those perspectives. @cnocbui I had not realised that about SSDs, that is good to know. I was thinking that I couldn't rely on a HDD in the long term for archival, but my idea was probably to have multiples, along with my paid iCloud plan.

    @magicbastarder my photo library is about 150GB. I think what you suggest is along the lines of what I'm thinking with multiple drives in different locations (with the difference being they'll all be external storage, since my Mac couldn't cope with a copy of my full library.