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  • 1.  Storage of TIFF Files

    Posted 10-06-2023 11:10 AM


    I am looking for advice for storage of Tiff files. I bought a 2TB solid state drive to store our tiffs on while we are digitizing our collections. We have about 580 images and are already out of room on it. We have around 9000 items in our collection so this isn't sustainable as of now. We have been scanning them at 600 dpi, 48 bit depth, and scanning them just as the size they are. I am wondering if resizing them to be smaller images would be a solution, or if we just need to get more storage. Cloud storage is unfortunately not an option for us. Any advice on how you are managing your tiff files would be appreciated.

    Rebecca Jacobs
    Curator and Collections Manager
    Buffalo Bill Museum & Grave
    Golden CO

  • 2.  RE: Storage of TIFF Files

    Posted 10-06-2023 02:29 PM
    It sounds to me like you picked the correct file type and that you need more storage space;  you could consider Network Attached Storage, also, and some of them have private cloud access.  If you haven't already, you should consult the Guidelines: Technical Guidelines for Digitizing Cultural Heritage Materials
    It has good goals-oriented information.  Some of it is practical, too.  Personally, I would not reduce the file size because you lose that data, unless you went way too high on the resolution; FADGI established standards for that.  Don't forget to plan for backups, so even more storage space needed...  That should be part of your digital preservation plan.  Many plan for digitization but not for digital preservation.


    Jean-Luc Vincent

    Administrateur du SIA
    Direction, Archéologie , Collections et Conservation
    Direction générale des affaires autochtones et du patrimoine culturel
    Parcs Canada, Gouvernement du Canada
    2630, chemin Sheffield, Ottawa, Ontario, K1B 3V7
    Messages: / Cell. non fiable 613-720-4418 / Fax 613-990-6627

    Je travail dans le territoire non cédé et non rendu du peuple Anishinaabe ou Algonquin.

    AIS Administrator
    Archaeology, Collections and Curatorial Branch
    Indigenous Affairs and Cultural Heritage Directorate
    Parks Canada, Government of Canada
    2630 Sheffield Road, Ottawa, Ontario, K1B 3V7
    Messages: / Cell. unreliable 613-720-4418 / Fax 613-990-6627

    I work in the unceded and unsurrendered territory of the Anishinaabe or Algonquin people.

    450 000 km2 d'histoires / 450 000 km2 of stories

  • 3.  RE: Storage of TIFF Files

    Posted 10-09-2023 11:44 AM

    You can gain some space saving TIFF files with LZW or ZIP image compression, which are lossless compressions, so there's no degradation of image quality with either.

    Both might add a little time to process when opening/saving, so it's an issue of time v space in terms of cost.

    Apparently, ZIP is better for larger bit-depth.

    Fastest Save Times: No Compression
    8-bit TIFF Files: LZW Compression
    16-bit TIFF Files: ZIP Compression (I guess for 48-bit also)

    Roni Mocan
    Art Director
    Bronx NY

  • 4.  RE: Storage of TIFF Files

    Posted 10-10-2023 10:47 AM

    Hi Rebecca,

    There's a big piece of missing info here, which is what your intended future use is for these files - and also the particulars of what you're scanning. 

    Resizing them down to a smaller size would certainly reduce the filesize, but also might (or might not) reduce their viability for your intended purpose. As Roni suggested, saving them with a lossless compression scheme like LZW or ZIP can also save some storage space (if you're not already doing that), but will probably not save enough to solve your problem.

    Also, if your TIF files have two or more layers they will be much bigger than if they are flat (just one layer).

    What immediately jumped out at me, though, was that you are using a 48-bit color depth. That's high. Much fine art scanning, for example, is done at 16-bit, or even 8-bit. Why are you using 48? This can have a big impact on filesize. For example, I opened a recent scan that was done at 16-bit. The stored size on disk is 860 MB. If reduced to 8-bit that drops 430 MB - so half. If upped to 32 bit it doubles to 1.67 GB. The system I'm on at the moment won't go higher than 32-bit, but you can see the trend. This same image at 48 bit would likely be at least 2.4 GB, maybe higher.

    Fortunately, if it turns out that a less-than-48 bit depth is adequate, you will not have to rescan the 580 already completed, but can just reduce bit depth on those files. Going down is ok (going up, not so much).

    You may also want to take another look at why you are scanning at 600 DPI. I'm not suggesting that it's wrong, but it definitely also affects filesize on disk.


    Brian Mattlin
    New York NY