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Client storage of field material and products

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Frank CervarichClient storage of field material and products
by on Jul 18, 2012 at 3:57:47 pm

I have a long term client for whom I would like to provide long term storage of old shows and field material. Many of these projects were originally shot on Beta SP (little field material would be preserved of those shows). For current projects, they have gone tapeless. They have many of the old field tapes at their facility. I keep some of them in my studio for source material. I have also transferred to the digital domain much of that old material. The new material (tapeless) resides on my hard drives. This makes me nervous.

I would like to buy a hard drive that would contain all their vital material which would be kept at their facility. I called G-Tech and was told that their G Speed Q line would meet my needs. I have looked at the price breakout of this line and note that the 4TB Raid array setup goes for $799.99. I also note that the 'spare drive' category has a 3 TB drive for $499.99 (a price that is more in line with my thoughts).

I have two questions -

1.) Is the G Speed Q line a good choice or are there better alternatives?

2.) Could I legitimately use the 3 TB drive for this long term storage even though it might not have the Raid capability?

Thanks for your thoughts on this matter.


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Vince BecquiotRe: Client storage of field material and products
by on Jul 18, 2012 at 5:12:34 pm

Hi Frank,

Long term storage and hard drive are not a good combination. Over time, drives that are not spun will just seize up. How long that takes is impossible to tell, I've seen it happen as early as one year.

We do use drive as well, but we spin them up very regularly, at least every few months, and then we upgrade them to larger drives as they become available. Humidity control is also a must.

It may be worth looking at LTO drives. They are cheaper than hard drives once you get past the cost of the recorder.

Vince Becquiot

Indigo Live
San Francisco - Bay Area


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Frank CervarichRe: Client storage of field material and products
by on Jul 18, 2012 at 6:02:31 pm

Vince -

I agree with you that LTO is a more stable and more durable medium for long term storage of footage. I have not priced the cost of a recorder and whatever else is required to get the field material and masters to LTO but I think the front end cost is going to be much more than my client wants to invest for this benefit. That is why I am talking about hard drives. I will, of course, advise my clients to 'spin' the drives every month or so to increase longevity and encourage them to update these drives every few years. I think that is about as far as my client would be willing to go. Short and middle term budget expenditures means more to them than the long term health of their video, I am sorry to say.



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Vince BecquiotRe: Client storage of field material and products
by on Jul 18, 2012 at 6:22:31 pm

There's always eBay :-)

Vince Becquiot

Indigo Live
San Francisco - Bay Area


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Alex GerulaitisRe: Client storage of field material and products
by on Jul 18, 2012 at 6:25:18 pm

Totally agree that individual drives (and even small redundant boxes) aren't usually a good choice for long term storage yet tape drives have their own cans of worms. Besides cost of entry and limited fault tolerance, one of them is portability. You have to have the tape drive and install the software to read the data. Might cause issues for an IT-challenged facility.

With that in mind, G Speed Q (along with Drobos, CineRAIDs, etc.) might be that balanced choice for long term storage, for a small IT-challenged facility: fault tolerant to a degree, portable, immediately available. For long term storage viability, I'd add a couple of things along the lines of Vince' advice to "spin 'em once in a while":
- keep it online and connected to one of the systems for constant health monitoring;
- consider getting a spare drive module;
- see which one of all of these boxes offers the best diagnostics and reporting so that you absolutely and immediately are notified if there is anything wrong with the box or one of the drives;
- limit permissions so that the data can't be easily wiped out or messed with accidentally.

I'd venture Drobo has the best monitoring tools, but would need to do a little more research on it.

Frank: you can also offer a small service (which you can charge for): check on the health of the unit every month or three: check RAID and individual drive statuses, system logs for related error messages, integrity of the file system.

(What do you think about it Vince?)

Alex Gerulaitis
Systems Integrator
DV411 - Los Angeles, CA


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Vince BecquiotRe: Client storage of field material and products
by on Jul 18, 2012 at 6:37:54 pm

Absolutely, a monitored RAID is also a great solution.

The advantage of the LTO drive is that you can keep duplicate tapes in a couple of locations to counter theft/fire/tempering, and just dumb mistakes, but the deal really comes in if you can split costs with the client and use it for your own storage.

Vince Becquiot

Indigo Live
San Francisco - Bay Area


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Frank CervarichRe: Client storage of field material and products
by on Jul 18, 2012 at 6:59:27 pm

Your suggestions are right on target. However, part of what I'm trying to do is to get this client's stuff off my drives so I can use them for other projects and generic in-house footage available for any client who might come through the door.

I will check out the additional manufacturers you suggest and would welcome any other advice, particularly if it was as sage and on-target as the advice I have been getting so far.



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Chris TompkinsRe: Client storage of field material and products
by on Jul 18, 2012 at 8:58:20 pm

Your needs are storage, not performance.

Buy 2 well known brand USB 3.0 hard drives with a 3-5 year warranty.
Redundancy is key for storage on hard drives.

Put in a iCal or some calendar reminder to spin up hard drives on the shelf every 6 months.

Chris Tompkins
Video Atlanta LLC


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