A common question among photographers is how long to store their customers RAW photos. If you use our color correction services or other image retouching services at photoExodus, we would like to think that your clients will never need a re-edit again. However, there are certain cases such as a late requested black and white conversion where it can be beneficial to have the original RAW images.
So should you hold onto them? Well this is really up to personal preference and branding. I am a bit of a hoarder, so I skew towards keeping. However, I think that with the price of hard drive storage today it is so easy and inexpensive to hold on to those images indefinitely that I see no reason to ever delete them. Although, it is extremely rare that you would ever need them again, it is a nice value add to offer them the peace of mind that you have a digital backup of their files.
Even as RAW image sizes continue to increase in size, the cheapness of hard drives is out-pacing file size growth. For example my favorite camera, the A7R’s RAW file size is 63mb per image. For a 2 TB drive that means you can store roughly 31 thousand images before you will run out of space. And how much does a 2 TB file system cost at the time of writing this. Well if you follow my model, you can have a raided 3 backup storage system for around $300.
First I recommend buying this HDD docking station with duplicator function and RAID 1. How this works, is with RAID 1 turned on you plug in two HDDs into the docking station and every file you place on your drive, it is automatically mirrored on the second drive. This way you have a second backup on the other HDD in case your primary HDD fails. This allows you to buy the cheapest HDD storage on the market, because you don’t really have to worry about hard drive failure as you will always have a mirrored copy. For those who really take their image security seriously I suggest keeping a copy of the files off site as well to prevent against fire, theft and other acts of god. For this you just remove the raided HDD at certain intervals, i.e. once a week/month and store at an offsite location. Then simply slide a third HDD into the docking station and press the duplicate button to duplicate the contents onto the new one.
The best part of this extremely inexpensive system in place your files are extremely secure and by the time you fill up those 2tb drives, the price of HDD space will be even cheaper.