Working with massive graphics files creates all kinds of storage issues. Some of my Photoshop files for print have been more than 4GB, and when combined with other support files and elements of a job, leave me with limited options for backup and storage.
Until my layered PSD files became 250MBs on average, all of my backups fit on a DVD just fine. The problem with DVD backups is finding stuff when you have to reference an old job in a hurry, especially when the files are massive.
As the job folders have grown over time, the most sensible means of data storage for my needs turned out to be external hard drives After trying several external storage devices, my final solution for the problem was the purchase of an ICY DOCK (MB559UEB-1SMB) external enclosure and an internal SATA hard drive (several, actually).
I have several portable external units including a G-Drive (which is an excellent external unit), a LaCie, a Rocketfish drive, an Acomdata drive (also surprisingly reliable for a cheap portable), and a few VST FireWire portable drives, all of which are good devices overall and each with their own unique positive qualities. In contrast to the good qualities each of those devices possess, they all maintain one common downfall: when the hard drive is full, you still are left finding a way to burn, archive, purge data or shelve it and purchase another. Portable external hard drives are getting cheaper all the time but they don’t even come close to the cost of a bare internal SATA hard drive. The last 1TB SATA drive I purchased was less than $100 bucks; there’s no way a powered portable 1TB unit sells for that cheap. Not today anyway.
The ICY DOCK units I purchased, with USB 2.0 and FireWire 400/800 connections, I am able to plug in any of my bare internal hard drives for tons of extra storage and never do I have to stress out about running out of space. With SATA drives getting larger in capacity and cheaper every day it’s no problem for an unemployed art director like me to pick up another drive when one fills up or if I just need a redundant backup.
Another big bonus of using SATA drives is the ability to format them as a boot disk, allowing me to have additional backups of my operating system in the inevitable event of disk failure. Some of the other units have that functionality but only the more expensive higher end drives.
The ICY DOCK enclosures with SATA drives have worked out great for archiving large jobs and even temporary storage for the jobs that are on hold indefinitely. I was so happy with my first ICY DOCK that I purchased a second one a few months later. Having a second allows me to move data from one drive to another without actually adding anything to my internal drives. Ten years ago I would have never dreamed that 4TB worth of internal hard drive capacity wouldn’t be enough! Now it just gets me by.
No technology is flawless however, just like no technology is permanent. After three years of heavy use, I recently ran into the very first issue with my two ICY DOCKS. The problem wasn’t as much with the enclosures as it was with the evolution of the (Mac/Apple) operating system, software and firmware updates. Recent updates to Snow Leopard OS 10.6 (.4) created drive mounting issues with several SATA drives connected via ICY DOCK. After some time spent troubleshooting the problem and tracking down the source, I sent one email to the ICY DOCK tech support folks which immediately prompted a series of troubleshooting messages and other suggestions within a couple hours. After a few attempts to resolve the issues via email, they issued me an RMA # and had me send both enclosures back to their service department. It only took a week for them to do the repairs and upgrades, and my ICY DOCKS were back on my desk and working perfectly.
The best product on the planet is only as good as it’s customer service and tech support when it comes to computer technology, software and hardware. The folks at ICY DOCK have the best of both; excellent products and fantastic support – a rare thing to find in any company these days.
If anyone is looking for a data backup solution that is expandable, the ICY DOCK (MB559UEB-1SMB) external enclosure (usually ships with no hard drive) is an excellent choice and can be purchased for $79.99 at NEWEGG.COM.