I use the following simple workflow, starting with taking pictures, storing it on my computer, processing it and making backups. It works for me and might work for you.
Transferring files from Camera to your Computer
In the past I use to plug in my camera to laptop by using USB cable, power camera up and then transfer files from camera to laptops hard drive. In my opinion it is not the best and easiest way to transfer files, so now I just pull the SDHC card from the camera, plug it into SD slot on my computer and transfer files to computer directly from SDHC card. It is fast, I don’t have to use additional cable and no worries about starting or shutting down the camera while connected to the computer.
Where to Store Images
My laptop is couple years old, it is powerful, but it has only about 140GB of space. A few month back I switched to shooting everything in RAW format and I’m experimenting with HDR. Each RAW image is about 12-13MB in size, I take 3 bracketed photos for every HDR shot, so on average for every photo I use about 40MB of hard drive space. This adds up fast. I was quickly getting low on hard drive space on my laptop. To get around it I purchased 2 external drives. One is 500 GB for primary use and second is 1TB for backup purposes. They are both pocket size drives and fit in my laptop bag without taking much space. When you buy external drives you need to make sure they are fast enough to work with large files. At first I was going to use 1TB drive as the primary one, but soon discovered that is not very fast, so I got another one with better I/O to use as primary and now use slower drive for backup purposes only.
I moved all photos from my computer C: drive to the 500 GB drive and use it as my primary storage for all photos. I usually synchronize once a week (or as needed) all files from the smaller drive to the bigger one. You can use Windows Explorer to copy files but it is not the best way to syncronize files from different directiores. I like to use little nifty syncronization tool, which comes with Windows 7 OS. The little nifty tool is “robocopy.exe”, just open command prompt and run it like this: ‘robocopy SourceDirectory DestiantionDirectory /E’, for example ‘robocopy g:\pictures e:\backup-pictures /E’. It will syncronize source to destination, quick and easy.