2
\$\begingroup\$

Every small M.2 SSD (solid-state drives) is increasingly replacing HDD (hard disk drives) in new PCs for file storage.

SSD is proven to be better for image editing, but what about image storage? Is a PC with 2 SSDs (1 for editing, 1 for storage) better than a PC with 1 HDD (for storage) and 1 SSD (for editing)?

In terms of your valuable image files being safe from data loss, corruption or fragmentation. For the purpose of safe storage.

\$\endgroup\$
9
  • 5
    \$\begingroup\$ I’m voting to close this question because it is about storage durability and not about photography. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Aug 25, 2023 at 17:07
  • 7
    \$\begingroup\$ Remember the adage… "Any data not stored in at least three distinct locations ought to be considered temporary." \$\endgroup\$
    – Tetsujin
    Commented Aug 25, 2023 at 17:23
  • 4
    \$\begingroup\$ @ArunabhBhattacharya why is that funny? I think this question is only barely on-topic. People are obviously going to have different opinions. With due respect to the mods here, just because they are mods doesn't mean they are infallible. \$\endgroup\$
    – osullic
    Commented Aug 25, 2023 at 18:07
  • 6
    \$\begingroup\$ To add to @Tetsujin's adage, I always keep in mind that there are just 2 types of data storage devices... storage devices that are going to fail...and storage devices that have already failed. \$\endgroup\$
    – osullic
    Commented Aug 25, 2023 at 18:10
  • 6
    \$\begingroup\$ For what it's worth, I think this question is marginally on-topic. "How should I ensure my digital photos are secure" is (as a general topic) something photographers should worry about - but obsessing about the details of magnetic vs SSD is an X-Y problem. \$\endgroup\$
    – Philip Kendall
    Commented Aug 25, 2023 at 19:18

2 Answers 2

11
\$\begingroup\$

The answer is always the same: you should never rely on having just one copy of anything important. Any difference in reliability between magnetic drives and SSDs is essentially irrelevant - they are both "good enough" if you have independent copies.

"Independent" copies is its own can of worms - having two SSDs in your house with the photos on is of no value if your house burns down. Having a copy "in the cloud" is potentially of no value if your cloud provider goes bust. And how are you going to protect yourself from "fat finger disease" and deleting the wrong files?

Worry about all that before you worry about the difference between magnetic disks and SSDs.

\$\endgroup\$
6
\$\begingroup\$

While all the comments about the backup and X-Y problem are absolutely correct, I'll still try to answer the question directly. "Other things being equal", so to speak.

  1. SSDs are primarily known and valued for speed of data access. This is rarely a consideration for a photo archive. Thus, no advantage here.

  2. SSD is much more limited by write cycles. However, if you use this disk just to dump your photos, it won't be a practical limitation. Not much disadvantage.

  3. SSDs are still much more expensive, particularly for large capacities. If your photo archive is several TB like mine, HDD is the only practical option.

  4. There are reasons to believe SSD degrades significantly quicker, particularly when it's unpowered and can't apply its self-recovery and levelling algorithms. The JDEC standard specifies only one year of data retention1 for consumer SSDs at 30°C (this figure halves for each 5°C!) In contrast, HDDs are known to last for decades, as long as they are kept away from strong magnetic fields.2 On the other hand, HDDs are naturally more fragile. Thus, for this usage case (long-term [mostly] offline storage), HDD appear to be superior.

  5. SSDs are notoriously difficult for emergency data recovery. Basically, if it's dead, or you accidentally deleted the last copy of a file, you can consider it gone. In contrast, HDDs can sometimes be recovered, even when they appear dead.3 Needless to say, the investment into this will likely be greater than in a timely back-up. Still, a point to HDD - as long as it doesn't foster complacency about back-ups.

So, overall, I believe the optimal configuration for larger photo archives is SSD for work + large HDD (5+ TB) for the operative storage + one or more offline portable 3.5" 2-5 TB HDD for periodic syncronisation, + favourite off-site storage method (similar portable HDDs or cloud). But if your archive is under 1 TB, the operative storage (in the computer) can be SSD - but preferably separate SSD from the main one.


1 This should not be interpreted that it will fail after a year, or that it's half-life. It just means the probability/quantity of errors on the drive will exceed a defined acceptable level. Also, most current drives likely exceed this requirement.

2 I personally have a 20 y.o. drive that is perfectly readable. The challenge is rather to find an IDE interface.

3 I did it once by swapping the controllers with an identical drive, and have seen other successful cases.

\$\endgroup\$

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.