There are plenty of ways to improve your workstation and the performance of your digital darkroom, from the hardware you use to the processes you put in place. This will ensure your time isn’t wasted while you’re waiting for your computer to catch up, as well as being able to find shots easily and making sure they’re kept safe too.
1 More RAM
If you’re running with less than 4GB of RAM in your computer, upgrading your PC or Mac’s memory should be one of your top priorities for optimal performance – ideally you’d look to have at least 8GB installed in your machine. It doesn’t cost the earth either, with a block of 4GB memory setting you back as little as £30, though you’ll need to check which connection your PC or Mac requires.
2. Upgrade your hard drive to SSD
As well as boosting your computer’s RAM, if you want to give your computer a real new lease of life, why not replace your aging hard drive with a state-of-the-art Solid State Drive (SSD)? While hard drives are mechanical pieces of kit with a spinning plate that stores your data, SSD’s contain no moving parts whatsoever. So not only do they consume less power (improving battery life if you’ve got a laptop), they’re quieter and less susceptible to shocks and vibrations that can normally result in a damaged drive and lost data. But there are other benefits too – SSD drives are significantly faster than hard drives, so many day-to-day tasks such as booting up, opening applications and photos, as well as performing processing operations can be carried out a lot quicker. They’ve also come down in price considerably in the past few years, with a 250GB Samsung drive as little as £135.
3. Use The Fastest Connections
Make sure you’re using the fastest connections you can. Newer computers support USB 3.0, which can transmit data at up to 10 times faster than USB 2.0, while the fastest interface of all is called Thunderbolt and is twice as fast as USB 3.0. If you don’t happen to own a USB 3.0 enabled machine, USB 3.0 devices such as hard drives and card readers are made so that they’re USB 2.0 backward compatible.
4. Delete Old Files
If you don’t fancy upgrading your hard drive, a simple and quick fix to improve the performance of your current drive is to have a good spring clean – if your hard drive is clogged up with files and applications, your computer will slow down until eventually even the simplest of tasks becomes a slow and painful process. Freeing-up space by deleting old and unwanted files can make a massive difference to your hard drive’s performance so try to get into the habit of doing this every so often.
5. Back-up Images
If your hard drive fails (and you’d be surprised how often they can), the first step to protecting your photos is to archive them on a dedicated external hard drive, leaving the hard drive on your machine free for applications and other content. In fact, we’d recommend two drives, with the second drive mirroring the content on the first drive, with regular back-ups to ensure nothing gets lost should a drive fail. A 2TB drive can cost as little as £60, so the outlay for two drives is minimal compared to cost of losing priceless images forever.
6. Refine Your Workflow
If you’re going to be handling and processing a lot of images, then it’s worth looking at a program such as Adobe’s Photoshop Lightroom. Not only is it a powerful image processing application that can allow you to apply a host of adjustments to a batch of files, but it’s also a very good digital asset management system, allowing you to keyword and catalogue images so they can be found instantaneously.