Lessons in technology and wasted hours

I write this as a note to myself not to repeat the same errors in a few years time and to sign some potential hazards for anyone about to undertake a similar exercise.

I finally resolved to upgrade the IT technology that supports my photography; or rather is fundamental to digital photography. The situation was that my old iMac’s memory would soon begin to creak under the weight of RAW files; working on a LR catalogue based on Dropbox between two computers (MacBook Pro for travelling) has proven not to be without complications or confusion; and there was a general shortage of backup capacity for my household of four people.

The solution was simple but the implementation not so simple, mostly due to pit falls of the ignorant. For the photo workstation – a MacBook docking station (CalDigit Thunderbolt Station), a 27inch matte hi-resolution screen (BenQ BL2711U), and repurposing of the 2TB WD hard drive (previously used for TimeMachine backups) as a larger drive for photo files, attached to the new docking station. For photo and general household backup a Network Attached Storage device (Synology Disk Station with 2 bays, plus two 3TB drives).

Cutting out the gory details, here are the snakes and ladders:

  1. Never, ever delete TimeMachine back up files from an external drives manually. You could end up with 2 million plus files in your trash that your computer will try for hours to count up and delete and then give up – apparently this is just not the done thing (how was I to know!) and OS cannot cope with empty the trash for a long list of good reasons. It seems the best way is to simply reformat the drive to clear all the old backup files and then start again. Not quite so simple when you’ve already moved your photo files to that drive!
  2. When moving photo files between drives, always do it within Lightroom or the indexing in the catalogue is completely screwed and needs to be rebuilt (thank fully I was already aware of this) – just press the ‘+’ next to folders in the library to add your new drive/folder, then drag/drop within LR.
  3. TimeMachine can also backup external drives attached to a Mac to another external drive. I discovered this after making a manual backup of photos on the WD hard drive. Just go into options and delete the external hard drive to be back up from the excluded items (TimeMachine excludes these by default). This is a neat solution that allows my working folder of imports on my Macbook Pro (plus other files) and the photo archive on the WD drive to all be backed up to the NAS, while using the excellent version control in TimeMachine.

This post has killed a little time as I wait for 10,000 photos to transfer back to my iMac so I can reformat the WD hard drive, empty the trash, and move the photos back again to the cleaned drive. We live and hopefully learn. The only remaining step is then looking into cloud backup of the NAS (Backblaze B2 is looking like the way to go).

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