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Article: Inexpensive archiving for tapeless media

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Shane RossArticle: Inexpensive archiving for tapeless media
by on Apr 28, 2011 at 12:44:38 am


NAB Expo
Inexpensive archiving for tapeless mediaInexpensive archiving for tapeless media

Thousands of members of Creative COW were at the 2011 NAB Show, and we are pleased to bring you some of their reports. In this entry, blogged from NAB 2011, Shane Ross had a mission, which was to search for a reasonably priced archiving solution of tapeless media that all of us not-so-big production and post production people could afford. Look now at Prime CACHE-A and Pro CACHE-A, BRU by the Tolis Group, and Edit Bay Production Desktop with this talented editor.

Feature   04/27/2011
Author: Shane Ross



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Chris TompkinsRe: Blog: INEXPENSIVE ARCHIVING FOR TAPELESS MEDIA
by on Apr 22, 2011 at 10:24:40 pm

Great Stuff Shane.
Thank You!

Chris Tompkins
Video Atlanta LLC


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Noah KadnerRe: Blog: INEXPENSIVE ARCHIVING FOR TAPELESS MEDIA
by on Apr 22, 2011 at 11:28:44 pm

Great report- little sad to see the pricing is still well out of reach for many folks. I'm still dying for something as cheap and simple as an SDHC card with longevity and durability.

Noah

Unlock the secrets of 24p, HD and Final Cut Studio with Call Box Training. Featuring the Panasonic GH2 and Canon 7D.


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Randy BurlesonRe: Blog: INEXPENSIVE ARCHIVING FOR TAPELESS MEDIA
by on Apr 25, 2011 at 9:15:17 pm

I agree with Noah, and Harry,
I think the ideal situation is that SCHC Cards or P2 cards were as cheap as tape.
So that we could just put those on the shelf but prices would have to be $15-$30 so that it would be as practical as tape.
Unfortunately, I don't see that happening anytime soon.
In the meantime I think I am going to look at the Tolis BRU system as well.
One for each of our 2 workstations.
I sure would like to hear more reviews from people that are actually using them on a daily basis.


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Harry PallenbergRe: INEXPENSIVE ARCHIVING FOR TAPELESS MEDIA
by on Apr 23, 2011 at 12:03:54 am

Seriously - some has GOT to figure out an answer. They will make BANK from all the millions who want it. Till then I have literally captured stuff from a card and lid it back to tape! Talk about going backwards in time. SDHC cards are now getting cheap enough that we can save them as camera neg and not reuse them... wishing a $500 100GB blu-ray dvd burner with $25 media was in my amazon shopping cart...

Thanks,
Harry

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walter biscardiRe: INEXPENSIVE ARCHIVING FOR TAPELESS MEDIA
by on Apr 24, 2011 at 12:54:55 am

Good stuff Shane. I never saw the second option, only knew about Cache-A.

Walter Biscardi, Jr.
Editor, Colorist, Director, Writer, Consultant, Author, Chef.
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Biscardi Creative Media

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Matthew StamosRe: INEXPENSIVE ARCHIVING FOR TAPELESS MEDIA
by on Apr 24, 2011 at 9:08:57 pm

Great post just want to add the entry level Cache-A Prime Cache LTO-4 is $5995.


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Shane Ross@Matthew Stamos
by on Apr 25, 2011 at 3:50:58 am

Thanks for that pricing. What they wrote on my brochure at the booth was $7995 and $9995.

Shane

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Walter SoykaRe: Inexpensive archiving for for tapeless media
by on Apr 25, 2011 at 8:35:07 pm

I looked at both systems, too, and I also chose BRU PE. Cache-A has some really nice features (especially for workgroups), but given Tolis Group's great reputation for support, I didn't think it was worth the extra money for a small studio like mine.

I got BRU with an LTO-5 drive and HBA for less than an LTO-4 Cache-A three or four months ago, and it has been rock-solid.

I rant and rave about the unreliability of hard drive archives every chance I get on the COW, and I'd recommend this system to anyone who has a shelf full of hard drives, but lacks the nerves of steel it takes to sleep well with irreplaceable data on them.

Walter Soyka
Principal & Designer at Keen Live
Motion Graphics, Widescreen Events, Presentation Design, and Consulting
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Tom MatthiesRe: Inexpensive archiving for for tapeless media
by on Apr 25, 2011 at 10:30:19 pm

I just use the bare drive in the eSATA base approach. With drives as cheap as they are, I just build in the cost of a backup drive to each project. I archive all my raw P2 footage, the ProRes Quicktimes and everything else connected to the project. Afterwards, I just pop the drive out, put it back in it's original box and store it on a shelf with the other drives. If I need to recall the project or footage, I just pop the drive back into the base and copy from the archive drive back onto a RAID and I'm up and editing in no time at all.
Drives a cheap now. I just bought a 2Tb Seagate for $69 yesterday! Cheaper way to archive than just about any other method around.
Tom

E=MC2+/-2db


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Bob Cole@Tom Matthies
by on Apr 28, 2011 at 5:03:45 pm

I'm glad your hard drives haven't failed yet, but odds are that they will.


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Les FitzpatrickRe: @Tom Matthies
by on May 5, 2011 at 3:58:52 pm

If Vegas bookies took odds on whether a failure will occur with an archival hard drive, they wouldn't, especially if those drives sit on the shelf and aren't exercised every few months. In the words of Hillel the Elder, "If not now, when?"


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Bob ColeRe: Inexpensive archiving for tapeless media
by on Apr 28, 2011 at 5:14:02 pm

I've been using LTO-3 for a couple years. LTO archiving does indeed work, though it takes a long time to write and read; I've restored many files with it.

The biggest problem now is off-site storage. Unlike many other businesses, ours generates a ton of data, so backing up via the cloud is out of the question. I literally have a suitcase of tapes, and on occasion I've taken it off-site for safekeeping. But that is not a viable long-term, every-day solution for me.

The larger LTO-5 format would help a bit, but not enough. Ideas please?


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Jeremy GarchowRe: Inexpensive archiving for tapeless media
by on Apr 28, 2011 at 7:14:41 pm

We have a Cache-A and we are small. I can't say enough good things about it, but I get the feeling that no one wants to hear about it as seems like it is "too expensive". My questions is then, how much is your data worth? Nothing? Cheap? To us, it's rather important.

The pricing did come down at NAB.

The support is totally great and attentive.

I started by taking or 30 or so TBs of data we had sitting on drives on the shelf and archiving those. We are now upwards of 50+ TBs (or more, I really don't know, I stopped counting. It's a ton) plus double that for the offsite backup.

Yes, it might seem like a sizable investment at first, but it's cheaper than video tape recorders, you can store everything that's digital, not just video, and it's relatively fast.

There's no extra software, there's no extra fuss, it runs. We now use it almost every single day.

If you charge your clients a nominal fee for long term archive, it will help to defray the initial cost.

And to Bob Cole, make two tapes. We do.


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Bob ColeRe: Inexpensive archiving for tapeless media
by on Apr 28, 2011 at 7:27:42 pm

[Jeremy Garchow] "If you charge your clients a nominal fee for long term archive, it will help to defray the initial cost.

And to Bob Cole, make two tapes. We do."


Thanks. Very interesting.

1. If you charge for long term archive, do you run the risk of liability in case the archive fails? Or do you use contract language more typical of self-storage facilities, along the lines of "you should have insurance for your assets, because we don't guarantee..."

2. two tapes -- great idea. I sometimes do that, when I'm in the middle of a long-term project. But for routine backup, I don't have the time for two copies. When I get LTO-5, I will try to do that. With LTO-3, it would just be too much work.


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Jeremy GarchowRe: Inexpensive archiving for tapeless media
by on Apr 28, 2011 at 7:37:58 pm

[Bob Cole] "1. If you charge for long term archive, do you run the risk of liability in case the archive fails? Or do you use contract language more typical of self-storage facilities, along the lines of "you should have insurance for your assets, because we don't guarantee...""

We assume no risk, and make that clear. If the client wants us to assume the risk, we can provide the entire project for their archive in whatever format the client wants. LTO tape is usually bondable though, so should you need it, it's available. We also make two copies one for onsite, one for offsite.

[Bob Cole] "2. two tapes -- great idea. I sometimes do that, when I'm in the middle of a long-term project. But for routine backup, I don't have the time for two copies. When I get LTO-5, I will try to do that. With LTO-3, it would just be too much work."

The LTO4 Cache-A system we have runs about fw800 speed (74,000 kbps - 80,000+ kbps). You can crunch through a lot of data relatively fast. Plus you can restore only the parts/files you need instead of the whole tape which makes restores much faster. Plus, it sits on the network and runs by itself. No PCI or other connections to a computer needed, just an ethernet cable.

Jeremy


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David ChaiRe: Inexpensive archiving for tapeless media
by on Apr 29, 2011 at 4:25:44 am

I saw something very interesting at the Quantum booth at NAB, they have a free downloadable utility called LTFS, what this does is take advantage of the partitioning capability of LTO5 to create essentially a volume that is mounted in the finder like a regular hard disk. You can then drag and drop files to the volume and it will just write them to tape like a regular hard drive, and it will update the partition table to reflect what is now on the tape, so if you put the tape back in and mount it, it will show you what is on the tape. You can also move files around and it will update the folder, but not folders. Also if you delete stuff from the partition, you lose the pointer, so that space cannot be claimed back until you reformat the tape, then you have full capacity again. Pretty neat, especially as it's a free utility, and very easy to use.

David :D

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Bob ColeRe: Inexpensive archiving for tapeless media
by on Apr 29, 2011 at 4:29:27 am

[David Chai] "so if you put the tape back in and mount it, it will show you what is on the tape. You can also move files around and it will update the folder, but not folders. Also if you delete stuff from the partition, you lose the pointer, so that space cannot be claimed back until you reformat the tape, then you have full capacity again. Pretty neat, especially as it's a free utility, and very easy to use."

Okay - this sounds neat but you're losing me here. Can you try to explain again for OS dummies like me?


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Jeremy GarchowRe: Inexpensive archiving for tapeless media
by on Apr 29, 2011 at 1:09:00 pm

Yes, David. Cache-A is adding this feature on their LTO-5 ProCache and eventually all of their LTO5 products.

For Bob Cole, it helps linear tape behave more like a hard drive. LTFS is Linear Tape File System. Here's a Cache-A view of LTFS.

http://www.cache-a.com/ftpcommon/Cache-A_LTFS_FAQ_020411.pdf

Jeremy


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Bob ColeRe: Inexpensive archiving for tapeless media
by on Apr 29, 2011 at 1:39:04 pm

[Jeremy Garchow] "it helps linear tape behave more like a hard drive."

Very interesting paper. I'm trying to figure out how Cache-A is avoiding the limitations of LTFS, especially during file updates. Is Cache-A using its hard drive to bounce data off the tape, and rewrite it onto the tape in its updated form?

Thanks Jeremy.


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Jeremy GarchowRe: Inexpensive archiving for tapeless media
by on Apr 29, 2011 at 1:47:29 pm

I'm not an expert in LTFS. We still have LTO4, but Cache-A requires no extra software as they have a layer of software running in the appliance itself. And yes, data is cached to an internal hard drive, but in this case, it's more about the software. I am going to write a more fully featured article on the Cache-A in the near future. It's one of those products that is worth a little extra dough, in my humble opinion.


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Bob ColeRe: Inexpensive archiving for tapeless media
by on May 6, 2011 at 3:32:37 am

[Jeremy Garchow] "Cache-A requires no extra software as they have a layer of software running in the appliance itself."

If one of the advantages of Cache-A is the ability to run using open source software, BUT Cache-A has gotten around the problem of backing up updates on what is essentially a linear medium of tape, by adding their own layer of software, does that mean that the "open source software advantage" is gone? Or not?


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Jeremy GarchowRe: Inexpensive archiving for tapeless media
by on May 9, 2011 at 4:13:31 pm

[Bob Cole] "If one of the advantages of Cache-A is the ability to run using open source software, BUT Cache-A has gotten around the problem of backing up updates on what is essentially a linear medium of tape, by adding their own layer of software, does that mean that the "open source software advantage" is gone? Or not?"

This software is used to interact with how you get the data on to tape, and some software actually write the data to a proprietary structure. Cache-A archives are stored in such a way that other tape players will be able to read the data more easily than other solutions. With other solutions, it will be very very hard to get the data off of the tape as it is so tied to how the software writes the data to tape. I think it was mentioned earlier, but Cache-A uses a tar system, which is a pretty benign format. LTFS is different.


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Bob ColeRe: Inexpensive archiving for tapeless media
by on May 6, 2011 at 12:13:32 pm

Another question, Jeremy, for your article: the rated capacity of LTO-3 cartridges is expressed as 400/800GB; other LTO flavors have similar dual numbers. How can we interpret that very big range? I've assumed that we "really" get 400GB from an LTO-3 cartridge because our data is not compressible. True/false?


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Andrew RichardsRe: Inexpensive archiving for tapeless media
by on May 8, 2011 at 6:18:24 pm

Bob,

The 400/800 rating on LTOs is the native/compressed capacity. LTO drives can do hardware compression for certain data types, mainly text-heavy data. For video, all compression is handled via the codec you are using and the LTO will just roll it uncompressed to the tape. So go by the smaller number when dealing with video data.

Best,
Andy Richards

VP of Product Development
Keeper Technology


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Jeremy GarchowRe: Inexpensive archiving for tapeless media
by on May 9, 2011 at 4:15:49 pm

[Bob Cole] "How can we interpret that very big range? I've assumed that we "really" get 400GB from an LTO-3 cartridge because our data is not compressible. True/false?"

Yes, assume the smaller number as you will never know how much of your footage will be compressed. If you use all image sequence (tiff et al) than your bit savings will go down considerably, but since you are most likely shooting to some form of tapeless compressed video, your bit savings won't be that much. You will save some on the audio. When making an LTO tape, I use a general rule not to stage any more than 780Gigs per tape. It's been fine so far. Cache-A also has tape spanning functionality, but I don't really use it.


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Les FitzpatrickRe: Inexpensive archiving for tapeless media
by on May 5, 2011 at 4:30:11 pm

Actually, if you own Cache-A LTO-5 product now, I believe they will provide a free LTFS update to your tool. It's noteworthy to see what Front Porch is saying about their desire to make Archive eXchange Format(AXF),THE open digital storage format.

I've spoken with FP about Their vision for the archive future which today is focused on Enterprise solutions. Of course this means we small companies stay out in the cold for the time being because $50,000 and up is a bit much for vault solutions.


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Andrew RichardsRe: Inexpensive archiving for tapeless media
by on May 8, 2011 at 6:22:45 pm

As cool at LTFS is, be advised that the Finder is not LTFS "aware" (Storage DNA wrote a nice white paper on this). It wants to write all kinds of filesystem metadata that will often result in failed copies via the Finder. You can use command line tools all day long with no trouble since they do not try to write .DS_Store files or Spotlight databases, but using LTFS with the Finder is as-yet spotty. Perhaps OS X Lion will bring an improvement in the area...

Best,
Andy Richards

VP of Product Development
Keeper Technology


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Helmut KoblerRe: Inexpensive archiving for tapeless media
by on Apr 29, 2011 at 5:44:30 am

Here's another vote for BRU from Tolis Group. I've been using it for almost 2 years with an HP LTO4 drive. The software is not completely user friendly, but definitely does the job. The support is great.
Tolis has been around for more than 20 years, I believe. They were backing up old Amiga content, and can still restore it!

-------------------
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Les FitzpatrickRe: Inexpensive archiving for tapeless media
by on May 5, 2011 at 4:21:25 pm

My local vendor is pushing hard for Storage DNA, possibly because they have skin in the game with this company. Storage DNA set out more on a mission of collaboration or file sharing across the web and archiving is a critical part of that solution. Of course they too are pricey.

I've spent more man hours on the archival conundrum than I care to count. It's become ridiculous. Meanwhile, this past year, I lost two on-line projects to a Sonnet failure. When that happened, my disgust at paying in the neighborhood of $8,000 melted away as I kicked myself for not spending money before the crash. My losses in time alone were greater than the cost for an archival solution.

From where I sit now, it looks like Cache-A, Bru from Tolis Group or Storage DNA. I like the 4T near-line of Cache-A. I also think it likely that additional cash will be thrown down for robotics in order to make my (one-man) daily archival routine a bit simpler and easier to manage.

It disgusts me that the archival process is cumbersome, mechanical and eats into my family time labor-wise. I'll embrace LTO but not because I want to. At this time, it is the only viable option left for a small shop and the only hope I have for a good night's rest because with drive archiving, rust never sleeps.


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Eric SuschRe: Inexpensive archiving for tapeless media
by on May 10, 2011 at 6:30:57 pm

Do we know for sure that computer tape is more reliable than hard drives? I have to say, I was backing up to DDS-2 and AIT for years and I abandoned the practice because it was too slow, too labor intensive, and the tapes failed sometimes anyway. I've actually had more tape failures than hard drive failures so I'm not convinced about the superior reliability of tape. Anyone have hard evidence?

____________________________________
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Follow me on twitter @EricSusch


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Les Fitzpatrick@Eric Susch
by on May 10, 2011 at 7:05:17 pm

Follow the money. I loath the concept of backing up to tape, clinging to my romantic notion of one day paying a nominal fee for a Cloud vault. Meanwhile, back at the ranch, my good friend the senior executive at The Bank of London assures me, their industry considers tape archival the last line of defense against asset loss. The key to LTO is to make a back-up of the back-up with the directive of playing the LTO tape as few times as possible, avoiding wear and tear.

In the small world of universal truths, we know that moving drives will fail and lots of attention (time) must be focused on nurturing parked drives. Solid seems promising but isn't ready due to cost per gig and lack of reliability in the process. DVD is very slow and the media has a short life span. Milleniata would be a promising 50 year DVD approach other than small capacity and speed. And the Cloud? From my perspective, today's Cloud is yesterday's radio, years before the arrival of TV but without the compelling stories.

I know, it's sad to sense a paradigm shift but not feel it.


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Andrew RichardsRe: Inexpensive archiving for tapeless media
by on May 26, 2011 at 10:12:59 pm

[Eric Susch] "Do we know for sure that computer tape is more reliable than hard drives? I have to say, I was backing up to DDS-2 and AIT for years and I abandoned the practice because it was too slow, too labor intensive, and the tapes failed sometimes anyway. I've actually had more tape failures than hard drive failures so I'm not convinced about the superior reliability of tape. Anyone have hard evidence?"

Depends on what your criteria is for "reliable". This thread is discussing archiving, and your past experiences are with backup on obsolete formats. Tape is ideal for writing to and setting aside most of the time, disk is ideal for always-on applications. If you want storage you can reliably set on a shelf for years and still successfully access later, tape is intrinsically superior. HDDs have motors and bearings that will seize if not used regularly. That's why you will see many posts on these forums from people archiving to bare HDDs explaining that they spin them up avery few months just to make sure they still work. Tape is designed for archive duty, and LTO in particular is very sturdy. I can only speak from personal experience, and the 800+ tape LTO-3 archive I built for my old job is still restoring data from 2006 regularly and uneventfully.

Best,
Andy Richards

VP of Product Development
Keeper Technology


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Eric SuschRe: Inexpensive archiving for tapeless media
by on May 31, 2011 at 9:42:16 pm

[Andrew Richards] "This thread is discussing archiving, and your past experiences are with backup on obsolete formats"

I appreciate your response Andy. I should say, however, that AIT and DDS-2 weren't obsolete when I was using them. They were state of the art at the time.

[Andrew Richards] "HDDs have motors and bearings that will seize if not used regularly. That's why you will see many posts on these forums from people archiving to bare HDDs explaining that they spin them up avery few months just to make sure they still work."

Is this hard drive seizing from disuse really a problem? How much of a problem is it? Is it more common than a tape failure? Yes, hard drives fail. In my experience they fail most commonly from manufacture's defect or from heat. I've never seen or even heard of a hard drive failing from just sitting on a shelf and not being used. (Yes, people fear it and take steps to prevent it but that doesn't make it so.) If a hard drive is not being used doesn't that mean there is LESS wear and tear on the mechanism? ...Therefore the drive should last LONGER right? That's logical but it's still just guessing. I don't think anybody has any hard data on this issue. Certainly not enough to use it as the sole reason to use tape over hard drives for backup.

I think we all have an intrinsic fear of hard drive failure (I know I do) because it's happened to all of us. I think that is what is driving the conventional wisdom that tape is more reliable than hard drives, not facts.

____________________________________
Eric Susch
http://www.LetsKnit2gether.com
http://www.EricSusch.com
Follow me on twitter @EricSusch


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Bob ColeRe: Inexpensive archiving for tapeless media
by on May 31, 2011 at 10:12:06 pm

[Eric Susch] " I think that is what is driving the conventional wisdom that tape is more reliable than hard drives, not facts."

Eric, I appreciate your skepticism, but sometimes the conventional wisdom is correct. I suspect Quantum has whitepapers which would satisfy you. For my part, I've never lost a verified tape backup, but have had to discard quite a few hard drives, and had data retrieval problems several times with "working" drives as well. I use both hard drives and tapes as backups -- but only tape as an "archive."

Bob C


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Andrew RichardsRe: Inexpensive archiving for tapeless media
by on Jun 1, 2011 at 8:05:31 pm

[Eric Susch] "I appreciate your response Andy. I should say, however, that AIT and DDS-2 weren't obsolete when I was using them. They were state of the art at the time."

Eric, I didn't mean to suggest those formats were obsolete when you were using them, only that their performance back then shouldn't be used as a proxy for that of modern LTO formats today.

I don't have hard data to point to, and I suspect that most of the time a properly stored HDD that saw very little wear in loading with data could sit on a shelf for years without a problem. There is even a HDD-based nearline storage form factor called RDX that is kind of like a hybrid of tape and disk (cartridged 2.5" HDDs that are handled in robotic libraries like tapes). However, LTO is designed for archive duty and has a strong track record over the last decade. The fact that with tape the mechanicals are separate from the storage media is a basic design advantage- you can replace a bad LTO drive easily but can you replace a bad HDD motor as easily?

If you do archive to HDD, make sure they are drives that ramp the heads instead of parking them. Almost all HDD manufacturers do ramp load now, but parked heads can ruin drives with a little physical shock.

Best,
Andy Richards

VP of Product Development
Keeper Technology


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Isaac Brillant@Andrew Richards
by on Jul 1, 2011 at 4:08:09 am

What does "ramping the heads" mean? Whatever it is-- is it a very new thing? I have some older Lacies from 2004, 2007, and 2009, and since 2009 I've been using WD MyBooks. Would these all have ramped heads?

Also, I happened to come across this thread after posting a question in the FCP forum. But since it relates to this topic, I'm going to paste my question here and was wondering what your advice would be?:

"This doesn't necessarily apply to a drive that is already failing, but I remember reading somewhere that you should do a full surface scan of your external harddrives at least once a year, and you can't just leave them idle for long periods of time.

Could you guys tell me the best way to do this? Using Disk Utility? Or do I need to buy a program like DiskWarrior? Or, if the harddrive manufacture supplies a program in the box, should I use that?

One person wrote in another forum: "If I had to use disks for archiving, I'd make sure that I attached them to a computer no less than once a year and do a full surface scan of every accessible sector on the disk using CHKDSK. This would re-map any sectors going "soft" before they dissolve altogether and take precious data with them." Is there a "mac way" to do this?

Someone else there wrote "I stict to WD Diagnostic Utility running in Windows, [on the mac, i think] and I swear by the results and job it does."

So, what's the best way to approach this in your opinions? And even if a drive seems to be working fine, when does it become too old to use?

I mainly use the 2 TB WD MyBooks, either with firewire or with eSata. I haven't had any crash yet, but the oldest one is only 2 years old. I'm more worried about my Lacies, which are between 2 and 6 years old)

Any advice would be appreciated.

Thanks!
Isaac


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rupert watsonRe: Inexpensive archiving for tapeless media
by on May 10, 2011 at 9:34:28 pm

Interesting that noone has mentioned the XenData 1500 - disclosure; we are a Xen reseller and we love it.
If you are prepared to do the archiving from a Windows 7 PC you should check it out. The SAS card, LTO 5 drive and software is only $5000

It writes standard tar files and has stub files so you can see your LTO cartridges that are out of the drive as "on the shelf" in Windows Explorer. If you find one you want you can double click it and be prompted to reload that tape and it restores.

Rupert Watson
ROOT6 Ltd
44 7787 554801


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