Cloud vs. LTO
I've always assumed that I need an LTO drive. But there are some big negatives:
1. cost. They're expensive, and now that my Ultrium 920 is giving me problems I'm seeing that there are continued costs of maintenance.
2. workflow. Unless you run a "library" device, or perhaps have the very latest LTO-6, you have to babysit to keep switching cartridges, to backup a large job.
3. off-site storage. If you want to be absolutely sure that a catastrophe in your office won't destroy your data, you need to make two copies and have an off-site place to store one set. That makes Negative #2 twice as irksome.
In seeking a repair of my Ultrium 920, I chatted with a technical support guy who suggested that I look into getting a T1 line and using the cloud for my archiving and backup. The amount of material that I need to protect varies - some weeks when I'm shooting, I need to backup a lot of data, but when I'm editing, I'd need only to backup the FCP and AE project files.
My objective is to automate the process, because I know that a backup process that operates "in the background" is the most reliable. As long as it happens automatically, and every day, then I won't likely have any days when I need to backup more than about 100-200 gb. Most days it's more like 1 gb.
If someone knows about or uses the cloud for a video business, I'd appreciate hearing your experiences and perspectives. Basically, I would like the same user-friendliness which some LTO vendors offer: a place which looks a lot like your RAID's file directory, with perfect copies of all of your existing file folders (in case of RAID failure, accidental deletions, or file corruption), along with a selection of the deleted folders for completed projects, which you have removed from the RAID for space reasons.
Getting a T-1 line is definitely not a good solution in our realm - a T-1 moves data at 1.4Mb/sec. That means 144Kb/sec or 8.64MB/min. If you do go to cloud storage, you'll need a much heftier line and I'd wager your local cable provider may have what you're looking for. I'd recommend a pipe of no less than 20Mb/sec up and down. That's costing me around $300/month. With that bandwidth, you can move data at around 2MB/sec or 120MB/min. Additionally, you do know that exactly when you need to restore that one important file, your network will be down and you'll have no way to retrieve the data ... :-(
However, replacing your dying LTO-3 with just an LTO-4 (you can still write to and read from LTO-3 tapes) will get you to 80MB/sec or 640MB/min.
If you work out the math and frustration of the comparably sluggish performance of even 20Mb/sec, you can see how that LTO-4 will pay for itself in just a few months.
As for library automation, check around. Smaller libraries (1 drive, 8 slots) are available for just a bit more than a standalone drive and they can provide 6.4TB of managed storage with LTO-4 or 12TB with LTO-5.
CTO - TOLIS Group, Inc.
BRU ... because it's the RESTORE that matters!
Thanks, Tim. I've taken your advice and will be installing an LTO-4 drive.
I would still like to learn more about using the cloud. I have FIOS, so it seems viable. Does anyone have a recommendation for a cloud service that would be right-priced for a small production company?