Today’s Question: With more than a dozen hard drives, how do you keep them attached to your computer? Do you use daisy chained hubs? And how do you manage the spaghetti of cables and cords?
Tim’s Quick Answer: I generally don’t need to connect more than three hard drives at a time to my computer, and when I do I need to use a hub (https://bhpho.to/3hX1QDJ) that provides both additional ports and power.
More Detail: Today’s question was in response to a previous answer about hard drive failures where I mentioned that I have more than a dozen hard drives in active use. However, what I didn’t mention in that answer was that most of those drives are backup drives, not primary data drives.
For each hard drive that stores primary data, I maintain at least two local backups on separate hard drives, as well as an online backup via Backblaze (https://timgrey.me/onlinebackup). So, I have about four key hard drives, plus a couple of other secondary drives, which I would call primary drives in the context of not being backup drives.
As I’ve noted in previous answers, my primary computer is a laptop. In many cases when I’m working, I don’t need an external hard drive connected at all. Sometimes I might need one or two drives connected, and in general I never need more than about three hard drives connected at one time.
Still, with a laptop, that does require that I use a USB hub in most cases when I’ll be using more than one external hard drive. Because I use bus-powered hard drives, that hub also needs to be powered, so that it is able to provide power to the hard drives I connect.
There are seemingly countless hubs to choose from, and of course each photographer will have slightly different needs. You need to consider how many ports and of what types you’ll need, and whether you need to have accessory power supplied to the hub as well, such as if you’ll be using bus-powered hard drives.
You can find an example of a USB hub that provides multiple ports and includes accessory power support here: