I recently filled up the external hard drive I use to store my photographs. This was no great achievement: It has a maximum capacity of 250GB, small these days. For me that represents over eleven years of photos, from the year 2000 to the first half of 2011, so I couldn't complain. I did, however, have to expand my hard drive storage.
One option would have been to buy a second drive and simply begin where I left off. The first drive could store the first decade of 2000 and the second could start with 2010. The downside would be that most of my photos would be on the older drive. Even if I transferred the original photos to a new drive of the same capacity (thus ensuring redundancy and a safe backup) I would still have to switch back and forth between drives to manage my catalog. That's more work and more opportunity for error than I cared to contemplate, so I scratched that option.
The option I chose was to transfer the photos to a new Mercury Elite AL-Pro hard drive with a 1.5TB capacity. This way I still have access to all my photos on one drive. I will back up the first ten years of 2000 onto a physically smaller drive that I will store off-site in a safe deposit box. It's a free service at my bank and I can't think of a safer place for my photographs.
I'm also in the continuing process of backing my best photos onto other media such as high-quality Taiyo Yuden DVD-Rs and the hard drive in my Mac. This works well for me because all of my best photos can still fit on two 4.7GB DVDs with room to spare. Depending on your perspective this is either a testament to my superior editing skills or my meager output of quality photographs.
In any event, the transition has gone smoothly. I created a new catalog in Lightroom, set it as the default, and was back in business. As the size of my catalog continues to grow I will have to be more careful to maintain a sound yet simple backup strategy, but so far everything is under control. If any of you reading this have faced a similar situation and have any brilliant strategies or unmitigated disasters to share, please feel free to share.