Storing my fotos
March 31, 2010 4:40 PM   Subscribe

I recently bought a new 1TB external hard drive to store my microscopy images. What is the best way to partition and index the drive so that I can easily store and access thousands of images?

The images contain descriptive file tags that should make them easy to search. I am looking for a way to quickly add images to new folders, categorized by date, month, etc. I'd also like to be able to call up images relating to specific tags or date ranges. Is there software that can do this, or do I have to use Windows Explorer and set up folders myself? (I should note that I'm running Windows 7).
posted by Aanidaani to Computers & Internet (9 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
Picasa, Adobe Lightroom, etc can do what you describe (basically).
posted by iamabot at 4:49 PM on March 31, 2010

From personal experience, I would not use folders or file names as organizational schemes. It just doesn't scale well. If you're storing lots of images, especially from digital microscopy, you might think about an image database or cataloging tool, such as Cumulus, which will provide you much more flexibility in adding tags and metadata, and, just as critically, in performing search-and-retrievals.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 4:49 PM on March 31, 2010

This is something I do for my own photos, and I found this tip for PowerShell, an automation engine for Windows. I haven't tried it yet, but it sounds pretty spiffy (very configurable).

Or, you could try Cam2PC, available as free trial or paid version with more features. Here's one vote for the free version. I haven't tried it myself.
posted by filthy light thief at 4:54 PM on March 31, 2010

I work with some folks who do exactly this. We haven't figured out a good program to tag microscopy images properly so we use a MySQL database and some custom software. This doesn't help you very much I'm afraid.

Just one thing: back up, back up, back up! Consumer hard drives on average have about a 5% per year failure rate, really big hard rives are worse, and external drives that get moved a lot are even worse. My partners aren't very good about backing up images and it drives me completely insane.
posted by miyabo at 5:18 PM on March 31, 2010

Seconding miyabo - just read the hard drive reviews on Amazon or Newegg, to see how frequent failures are. I would never risk my data by using just one hard drive backup. Disks fail - is your data worth less to you than the cost of an additional disk?
I would also highly recommend Allway Sync as backup software (no connection - I just use this a lot). It is free to try and only $29.99 for the Pro version which allows you to set up really complex, folder-by-folder backup jobs. If you need to run it on more than one PC, contact them by email to ask about special student license costs to run on multiple PCs.
posted by Susurration at 5:32 PM on March 31, 2010

Whoops - I forgot to post my suggestion for indexing, in my enthusiasm over backup. I would personally use a folders/naming scheme to categorize, with a database to index these and contain descriptions. You could even consider using something like Picasa, which allows you to tag images with keywords and allows you to browse thumbnail images of file contents in each file.
posted by Susurration at 5:37 PM on March 31, 2010

Another graduate student in my program built a system called EMEN2 to store and annotate electron microscopy data. It'll be a bit more work to set up than just folders, but you can easily retrieve sets of images with a few clicks, and with real metadata you can do some really interesting data mining after a while.
posted by chrisamiller at 8:03 PM on March 31, 2010 [1 favorite]

Partitions are just a way to run out of space before you really run out of space.
posted by smackfu at 6:56 AM on April 1, 2010

If you're going to be using Windows alone, just keep it NTFS.

If your images can be segregated into folders, that would make things simpler, but...most times you might not be able to do so. I know that the professors at my school have just a batch of pictures, and then attach tags to each.

When I organize them on my HD for pathology, I would have folders (Path or Micro) then another patch of folders below that (Path --> Organ systems (Cardio, vascular, pulmonary, etc.); Mirco --> bacteria (alphabetical listing), virus). It's so artificial though.

Last point; if you're going to basically just use this for backup, that's okay. If not, then have some way of backing this up. Partitioning doesn't protect files from being lost should the hard drive fail; partitioning doesn't help with anything. If you are paying for it yourself, you can get cheap HDs of lower sizes sometimes (I think at Fry's, there's a deal for $40 250GB externals) or if your institution will pay for it, you could use an online service (SpiderOak, Mosy, carbonite, GoogleDocs, etc.).

If you want to use Google Docs, I posted a method to back up your files onto it on by google buzz. (

Finally, the best way to view lab images in my opinion is Picasa. Zooming is easy, viewing is easy, and adding tags is easy.
posted by doctorwhitecoat at 4:14 PM on April 7, 2010

« Older Not quite what I'd call a "Mixer"...   |   Rock is Dead, Long Live Rock Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.