Storage – The Great Debate

I do a lot of different things for work. I write, I blog, and I take lots and lots of pictures for magazines. As a result, I have tons of pictures stored in various places, and I’m triple backed up at all times. Right now, it’s a fairly simple setup, but it’s going to get a lot more complicated pretty soon. That’s because of two things:

  1. I want to do a home theatre setup
  2. I got a new camera.

In the past decade or so, I’ve taken a lot of pictures. But at the beginning, a lot of my work was in film, so I have to keep the original slides. Then when I did go digital, I had a basic 6 megapixel camera. Back then, each shot took up 2.5 mb. In fact, for as long as I’ve been shooting, I’ve only got 110 GB worth of images. Now, each image is 15 mb between the raw image and the jpeg file. I shot 22 GB of a single truck the other day, and that 350 GB drive isn’t going to last me much longer.

So I’ve been debating my options, but I’d like to ask for some suggestions from you, the readers. Here’s what I’ve got:

  • 20-inch iMac with 250 GB drive, hosting my iTunes library
  • 15-inch MacBook Pro with 500 GB drive, with all of my business data
  • 500 GB Time Capsule
  • AppleTV

I’m an Apple guy. Go figure.

Right off the bat, I know that the AppleTV isn’t the best solution for my media needs. I’ve been considering buying a Mac Mini to do the home theatre part of things, but either way, I need a place to put my iTunes library. I’m in the process of converting over my DVDs, and at the moment I’ve filled up a 250 GB drive and I’ve barely scratched the surface. I figure I need at least a terabyte to take care of that.

On the photography side, I’m thinking I need to get proactive and get at least a terabyte of storage. I try to do a shoot per week, and each one is at least 10 GB worth of data. By getting a terabyte now, I’m going to have more than enough to cover my needs in the short term, and I’ll be OK when it comes time to upgrade later.

Now the big issue: Backup. My 500 GB Time Capsule isn’t going to be able to support this new setup in any way. Even if I upgraded to the 2 TB Time Capsule, I’d really only have one machine covered. So my thought is to double up on my storage. When I buy a 1 TB drive for the photography, I buy a second (or step up to a 1.5 TB model) to handle backing up both the MacBook Pro and the library. When I get the 1.5 TB for the iMac, I do the same thing with a 1.5 or 2 TB unit for backup. On the downside, my Time Capsule would pretty much turn into a router.

So there’s my current strategy. I’ve considered a Drobo, and I’ve considered just getting a Mac Mini server to handle the duty, but I think that might be overkill. Anyone have any suggestions?


  1. says

    You should look into getting a NAS. I believe the Synology NAS’s offer Time Machine and if you can point your AppleTV at a network share then that should work for you.

    I’d recommend getting at least a two drive NAS for RAID1 and also another for backup. You may as well max them out with 2TB drives because although 1TB sounds like alot….it isn’t.

    Hopefully 3TB drives will be out this year.

  2. says

    My suggestion would be a Drobo. Here’s my dream setup (dream cuz I still don’t have an HD TV…).

    Near my cable modem I have an AirPort Extreme with a USB cable to the Drobo and an ethernet cable to a Belkin Powerline HD (very highspeed and reliable).

    I my living room (at the other end of the house) I have a Belkin Powerline HD with an ethernet cable going to a Boxee Box. And an HDMI cable from the Boxee Box to my HD TV.

    Sure, you’ll say that this setup can be expensive, but then again, you won’t have to put in much more money in the future (maybe bigger Drobo drives?) and you have a high-availablity/high-efficiency system that takes care of your backups and your media. Plus it’s all wired to your TV for maximum availability! :P

    If you have question, you can write to me :P


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