Tuesday, May 29, 2007
Dealing with the long-term storage challenges that every pro will face
Storage means everything in digital photography. Without a place to keep photos, and without the speed and reliability of a storage medium, there's no business. All that's left is an expensive camera and fancy lighting equipment! Storage is also an integral part of the photographic workflow, and it can even be the central repository for an e-commerce site where clients can purchase photographs or browse watermarked images.
The fact that storing images is such a critical aspect in the business of photography explains why there are so many storage choices. You can archive to optical disk, save files on a local hard disk on your laptop, install a Linux server and save to networked drives, or even keep your photos on high-capacity flash cards. None of these options quite compare to the latest and perhaps most reliable and most intuitive method: network-attached storage (NAS). An NAS device is a plug-and-play storage product that plugs into your wired or wireless router. A processor is built into these heavy footprint devices—most weigh about 10 pounds or more—that make them work like a server.
Of course, there are NAS naysayers. Some pro photographers are more savvy about network servers and prefer using an Apple Xserve or Linux server because it provides more control over archives, lets you run a Web server for e-commerce and can provide better network throughput. So I will cover those options as well, explaining the benefits and challenges of operating what amounts to your own small-business local area network.