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Seeking Feedback Concerning Media Archiving

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Ryan Biller
Seeking Feedback Concerning Media Archiving
on Sep 3, 2009 at 4:43:18 pm

Hello- I'm just looking for some feedback and second opinions for getting the most out of our media archive solution which includes an Xserve and a Tandberg Magnum 448, because right now I'm dealing with an archive solution that's a bit unstable, overly complicated, and seemingly not robust enough to assure it's a long-term archive/media solution.
Let me lay out some details and I'd like any opinions or tips for my situation:

I'm employed by a small video production company who have a large library of production masters (HDCAM and DVCPRO, 1000+ tapes total) that they needed backed up/archived. The choice was made to archive digitally (as opposed to physical tape duplicates), which entails capturing the footage in Final Cut Pro and then taking those raw media files and archiving them to LTO-4 cartridges and then restoring them when needed for editing, etc.

An Apple Xserve running Atempo's Time Navigator 4.2 to interface with a Magnum 448 was bought as the archive solution (a decision made before I was hired- but I am the primary engineer and operator now and have to play the hand I was dealt). The Xserve is also connected to a QLogic fibre switch which mediates data between the Xserve/Magnum, a hard drive server, and the workstations that capture and edit.

We've learned to make things work but the Time Navigator [TiNa] package is not very intuitive and sometimes limited in function for such a complicated interface:
-if files are archived incorrectly, you can't rename, delete, or designate them as faulted in anyway- they're stuck taking up storage space and in the catalog leaving the potential to restore bad footage
-there's lots of esoteric, manual operations, and modules in using TiNa even for the basics- a simpler, more self-contained, end-user friendly interface would be nicer
-searching for and selecting specific files can tedious and the 'find' function can be hit-or-miss
-TiNa doesn't state which cartridges it needs for a restore until the moment it begin to access the data from that particular cartridge- if that cartridge isn't in the library it ends the restore (unless you are watching the entire restore and/or quick enough to catch it and do some manual operations- otherwise it automatically times out)
-Alarms and errors can lack details (ex. "1 object(s) are not correct restored"... and then looking at the 'details' doesn't tell you the specific object/file that had the error)

Now I can deal with the Atempo software being unwieldy- but the more alarming issue is that after only a year of moderate use, there are alerts when restoring media that state- "Physical Error[s] were detected on [the] drive while reading media..." and certain files/tapes can't be restored (which will have to be recaptured- something that causes more wear an tear on the masters, which we want to avoid). This has happened with multiple cartridges and our cartridges have only had maybe had three uses in the Magnum's drive- once for the initial archive, then a restore or two.

These LTO-4 cartridges are supposed to be our long-term library and working media source; we're nearly done with capturing all the masters, which will be put into protective storage and we're planning on duplicating the LTO cartridges for safety's sake- but having media that's compromised for restoring and being unsure whether our backups are secure and usable is unacceptable.

So here are my basic questions and concerns:
Does anyone know what may cause or correct the 'physical errors' issue or any Atempo/Time Navigator/storage tips in general?
I asked Atempo support once and they said I should talk to Tandberg about the errors. I talked to Tandberg and they said it could be the LTO cartridges- but I've used both Quantum and Sony brand and have had the same issue. So I'm unassured the LTO-4 based solution is reliable at this time.

Is there any recommended software solutions besides Time Navigator that better fit our bill?
I basically want a software that backs up the media when I tell it and restores easily when we need it- with a catalog/directory that can be modified and corrected. I have no need for a daily, automated, date-based, data/file structure archive.
I've seen that Atempo offers 'Atempo Digital Archive', which may be closer to the mark than TiNa. I've also heard good things about PresSTORE.

If you've made it this far, thanks for reading. If you've got any ideas or sympathies, I'm glad to hear them.


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