External Hard Drives

I have recently moved to a mirrorless camera with large files and find that I need to buy another external hard drive for my desktop computer. I haven’t purchased an external drive in a while and am curious what brand and what size other photographers are purchasing these days. Thanks for your input!

I have been satisfied with Western Digital or Seagate external hard drives. No crashes over the last 16 years. I have been using 8 TB drives, but may need to upgrade soon to something larger to keep all my photography files on a single drive. I use one drive as the working drive, and an identical drive for backup. Older drives are used for archival storage. At the moment it appears that 8TB or less are the least expensive. COSTCO now has 8 TB Seagates for $140. Others might have recommendations for drives that have lower failure rates.

Hi Carol,
just like Bill, I use Western Digital and never had a problem. This doesn’t mean Seagate, Lacie or any other brand could not do the same for you, I just never had a reason to try anything else. I use two external drives which I sync using Goodsync software. I also sync the photos to a NAS downstairs. The size of those drives really depends on how much space you need for your existing photos and how many you expect to add in the future. I change the drives yearly, adding a TB each time (my files aren’t that huge). I replace the main drive with the newly purchased one, make the previously main drive the secondary, and ditch the previously secondary drive. The question with hard drives is not whether they fail, just when. So by using this replacement cycle, my drives are only used for a maximum of two years. As you need extra space for backup, I highly recommend Peter Krogh’s DAM book (https://thedambook.com/). Enjoy your new camera and keep sharing what you capture with it :slight_smile:

Ditto with Seagate and WD here. One thing I do recommend is a drive that powers from the laptop itself via the USB connection. I have one of those and a larger 8GB one that needs its own power source. Sometimes its a pain to be tied to the drive and not be able to move without shutting apps down and ejecting it.

I first bought a Western Digital 4 TB drive a few years ago. Then, as photo files grew in size, I had to buy another drive. I went with Western Digital again and got an 8 TB drive. I’ve never had any problems with either drive.

Thanks so much for everyone’s responses. Now I know what to get!

I’ve had Seagate die on me but Western Digital has served me well over the years. I have 4 of them in a NAS Raid system and also have a copy uploaded to Backblaze.

I recently started using a Rocstor drive. It wasn’t cheap but it’s been great. Really fast and seems pretty sturdy.

I have a Lacie and I’m happy with it. One thing I would say is consider your future and how much you plan on shooting/storing. Personally I wish I saved more and got a NAS or G-Raid. Just depends on your budget and needs.

No matter what brand, all hard drives are guaranteed to fail. Just be sure you have a backup and keep it current.


Wiser words couldn’t have been written. When it comes to backups, redundancy is the key.

The only problem I’ve encountered with external hard drives (I have four connected to my M1 Max) is that at times a drive will turn itself off and you get the “the hardrive was turned off incorrectly” message. I’ve had this happen with almost all of my external hard drives. The Apple tip to avoid this is to turn off the “put hard drives to sleep when possible” option under “Energy Saver”.

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Spurious ejection of hard drives has been a Mac “feature” for a long time. I got a MacBook M1 Pro the first of the year and after what feels like 20 OS (and Adobe) updates, spurious ejection finally seems to be behaving much better. (And I’ve always kept that sleep option turned off.) But I’ve never had a drive power down – just suddenly eject, usually at times when nobody had been in the room for hours. Sometimes I’ve gotten the message when there was nothing TO eject!

I use La Cie ssd drives for backup. Two of them. One stays at home and the other goes on photo trips in case my laptop runs out of space.

Tony, I’ve thought about switching that preference too, but then the hard drives will probably wear out sooner. Everything seems to be a compromise.

Heat is probably the issue. I buy external drive enclosures and put my own drive in it. My enclosures all have fans that help keep temps down which is the enemy! I use Burley Drives. Not cheap or small but feel better with the cooling. I do also have many of the typical external drives but those are only hooked up and copied to and shut down for extra backups.

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