How to manage my huge folder of photos?

  Pineman100 11:22 23 Feb 2015

Apologies if this rather a long question, but you'll soon see why!

I run Windows 8.1. I use a laptop computer (connected to an external screen and keyboard/mouse) so there's no room in the computer for a second built-in hard drive.

I'm an amateur photography enthusiast. My Pictures folder has grown to some 420GB of data which was taking up around half of my HDD on its own! So I have moved all of my photos on to a USB 2TB external HDD, with a backup on a second USB 1TB external HDD.

This has relieved the pressure on my C: drive, but is far from a satisfactory solution. Now, whenever I want to open or save a photograph, I have a frustrating wait while my external HDD cranks up and finds the file. This can sometimes take 30 seconds or more. Saving a file and browsing the drive has the same problem.

This nuisance is duplicated by having to save every new file to the backup Pictures folder on my external backup drive as well as my principal external drive.

Here's what I would ideally like to have:-

  • The ability to browse, open and save photo files on an external drive as quickly (or almost as quickly) as I can on my C: drive.

  • An external backup HDD that will automatically sync with the Pictures folder on my external HDD, so that whenever I save a file, it is actually saved on to both drives. I don't mind if this is achieved by scheduling a sync between the two drives every couple of days or so.

I'd be extremely grateful for any ideas on how to achieve my ideal solution, without it costing too much!

  xania 11:51 23 Feb 2015

Have you considered partitioning the HHD so that you have your photos on a separate virtual drive? Anything that you do via an external device is bound to be slower than via an internal device.

You don't mention which USB version. If your Laptop supports it, you could use USB3 devices which will give you better speed, but this is not an option if you don't have a USB port on your laptop.

  AroundAgain 13:28 23 Feb 2015

Hi Pineman

I have a similar scenario, in that I have a large folder related to Photo Editing which I also use on my laptop when 4 of us get together for our little 'photo editing' sessions.

I work on various files, on PC, and then need to have them available on/via laptop. I have a portable external drive which I would like to keep synchronised and up-to-date so I have all relevant files, new and old, accessible, regardless of which machine I use.

So, I'm very interested in your thread.

I have searched a bit for sync software and have found these. It would appear they may do the job. All of these are free downloads. I wonder if anyone has used them and what the recommendations were


Synkron [Windows]

MS SyncToy 2.1

  robin_x 16:27 23 Feb 2015

Change Power Options/More Power Options/Plan settings etc and make sure Turn Off Hard Disk is set 0 minutes (Never).

You can check the Disk Drives' Properties (Right click a drive) to see if any Power options there (probably not) and see if write cacheing makes any difference. You must only Safely Remove drives if it is on.

Even so, some drives (Seagate is one) may have a Sleep setting in Firmware. If so, you have to change it via a Utility downloaded from their website.

Consider that if drive persists in going to sleep.


Make sure your external drives are included in Windows Search Indexing Options.

click here


You can also buy Optical Bay Adapter Caddies to allow a laptop's DVD drive to be replaced with caddy and 2.5" SATA HDD.

A new external USB CD/DVD Writer drive would then be needed of course.

  robin_x 16:28 23 Feb 2015

Disk drive properties are in Control Panel > Device Manager

  john bunyan 17:15 23 Feb 2015

I use Freefilesynch to keep a mirror image of my entire Data Drive . After the first Synch, it takes only a few moments to synch the changed, added, or deleted files. (AroundAgain's link.)

  Pineman100 18:02 23 Feb 2015

Many thanks for those responses - much appreciated.

xania - I see the logic of your suggestion, but will keeping my photos in a separate partition make a real difference to the speed of access? The drive will presumably still have to crank up whenever I access it, and that seems to be the main time-waster.

I have two USB 2.0 ports and one USB 3.0. The principal external drive is plugged into the USB 3.0.

AroundAgain - I also do a lot of photo editing with Photoshop CC, so some of my multi-layer work-in-progress .PSD files are pretty large, which of course exacerbates the access time problem.

Thanks for the sync software links. John Bunyan seems to be quite positive about Freefilesynch (thanks JB), so I'll have a look at that app. It would certainly solve part of my problem not to have to save everything twice.

Robintheumpteenth - I've had a look at both external HDDs' properties, and neither of them shows any power options management facilities. Both are included in Windows search indexing. I'll try switching on write cacheing within Windows to see if that helps (I shall be slightly nervous about it, for fear of unplugging a drive without remembering to eject it first! Would that corrupt data?)

I will also check the two drive's websites (Samsung and Toshiba) to see whether I could stop them from sleeping. Does this seriously increase drive wear?

The idea of an optical drive bay HDD is a very interesting one, which I'll investigate, thanks. Presumably this would operate at the same speed as the computer's C: drive, would it?

Thanks again, everyone. I'm still open to any further ideas!

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