File storage challenge questions

I’m a newbie to graphic design - I work with Photoshop and Illustrator.

Interested to know how people out there store their images.

Thoughts on using memory card vs external drive or other things?

What would the pros and cons be of storing your digital files on Dropbox (and using a Select Sync option so that they aren’t taking up unnecessary space on your hard drive)

Do you upload all of your digital files (personal photos, purchased stock images) on Creative Cloud CC?

Do you think it’s important to back up your Creative Cloud assets in another location?

It is very important to organise your filing and backing up. I have hundreds of thousands of images and other files. I don’t think a memory card would cut it for me. I use the internal SSD for current jobs and associated files. As soon as the job is done, I move the files to an external SSD for archive and again to a duplicate SSD for backup. I use 1Tb SSD external drives because they are cheap and reliable.

Each job has a folder with the job number and customer name/job name reference. Archives are organised with a folder for each month. This makes it easy to find anything if a job comes back in.

I only use cloud services like DropBox for moving files between my office and head office. I would not trust any cloud service for long term archive or backup.


I’m not an expert on this subject, but I’ll answer. I use 2 HDDs - 1 normally active, and 1 for backup which I connect with SATA and power cables only when I’m backing up (at other times it’s disconnected).

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I was about to type almost exactly what StudioMonkey said.
As far as images for jobs, they are always archived under the client by job. Here we don’t have an image archive used across projects and we do not have team projects shared internally.

If you do have a multi-use image archive, you definitely want to keep it under your control and backed up often. Dropbox with a synch function works, but it can be slow on large files (it’s slow here with our very large bandwidth) and is extremely interactive in it’s requirements. You have to actively monitor your hard drive to make sure you don’t fill it up inadvertently. Nothing sucks more than seeing “your hard drive is almost full” and all your stuff slows to a crawl cuz no scratch space. But with Dropbox you still want to backup locally. Do NOT trust online services to be online when you need them most. I even keep a Cloudflare web link on the toolbar so I can check outages when something goes toes up. If your area is red, go get a cup of coffee, or lunch, or lunch and dinner…

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Thanks so much everyone for the input - I appreciate it.

I apologize in advance that I may not be using the correct terminology (am new at this) so please correct me if that is the case. I’m also not a digital native, so am also learning about cloud storage vs backups vs selective syncing.

Just to clarify I’m not working for a company- I’m getting set up to do freelance work some day - specifically composites in Photoshop. So, it’s just me and my PC.

I ran into a problem recently where I lost my psds and ai files. Somehow they were all converted to jpgs. I am guessing that it had to do with not having enough memory and am trying to prevent this from happening again in the future.

I realize that there are 2 different things at play here:

  1. Client folders - with all the client info, correspondence, assets, invoices, etc.
  2. My personal collection of stock photos, images, backgrounds (Image Archive?) that I can draw from when creating things.

Right now, I’m talking about the second one. I will be using Bridge CC to organize these images. I understand that that images are not actually stored in Bridge; it’s a file management system.

I’m trying to figure out:

  1. the best place to store these images so that I don’t run out of storage all the time
  2. the best system to have in place to back these images up.

For personal photos, I already have them on my hard drive and then I would upload them to CC - I suppose.

But the stock photos I purchase will be on Creative Cloud - where could I back those up so as to not use up too much storage?

Storage is cheap. A couple of 1Tb SSD external drives will be enough to get you started. When they’re full, buy more. The motivational pressure comes from the loss of valuable files, not using too much storage.


If you really want some redundancy, check into RAID drives. You can get 16TB units for around $500USD
Set it for at least RAID 5 striping.

We used to have one of these in the office and it was the best. Fast, and relatively reliable.
You do have to keep a spare drive around in case one goes, and as we found, a spare box too, in case the enclosure box itself goes. The data is somehow box-specific. We couldn’t just pop the drives into a different manufacturers drive enclosure. Anyway, that said, we also backed up our RAID device to an off-site server in case of catastrophic loss of the building. But the files were kept local and at hand.

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It’s important to keep in mind two functions:

Backup – A constantly updated duplicate of your hard drive that can be used to restore your computer when the inevitable hard drive failure occurs.

Archive – Long-term storage of completed jobs, assets, etc.

Whether you use a hard drive, network attached storage or the cloud is up to you. Ideally, you have two copies with one copy being offsite.

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Thanks for all of your input -

Thanks for the suggestion - will do some research on RAID drives and make that investment when I’m further along with this.

Thinking I’ll get 2 1Tb SSDs - 1 specifically for backups of current project files and another for archived stuff -

@Steve_O - Just to clarify - when you say “offsite” - do you mean “anything-not-stored-in-my-laptop”? or Literally, offsite, in a different location?

Trying to determine if BOTH of these two copies can be stored somewhere other than the hard drive in my laptop - it’s an old laptop with not much memory. Will upgrade at some point, what it’s what I’ve got to start.

(Not sure if Bridge would work with an external device?)

Different location. Imagine worst case scenario and your house or apartment is destroyed. How will you recover your files?

I don’t store anything on the Mac. I try to keep it lean so it runs faster. All storage is external. I have two 1 TB external drives that I’ve had since 2009. One is a backup of the Mac, another contains all my personal and professional files. I have a third external that is 4TB that backs up both of those drives. I use Time Machine to schedule the back ups.

The professional files are also backed up to Dropbox. I’m cautious about cloud security, so I don’t put any financial info or passwords in that back up. I have that back up in case my computer gets stolen, fried or otherwise destroyed.