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Long term storage, what's your solution?

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Dustin Parsons
Long term storage, what's your solution?
on Jan 5, 2015 at 6:55:51 pm

I've been freelancing for the past year and have amassed about 5TB worth of projects that I need to clear off my work drives to make room for future projects but I currently don't have a long term backup solution and was wondering if anyone has suggestions based on what they use? I figure each year I'll have another 5-9TB worth of content that needs archiving and will hold on it it for probably 3 years or more.

My first thought was to just grab some cheep 4TB hard drives and make sure I spin them up every 4 months but that doesn't seem very long term and even the cheap ones would end up putting me back around $600 for 8TB of archived content.

LTO could be the way to go if I could find a sub $1000 LTO drive but I'm also a little weary about LTO since I've never used it and because it's tape I feel it would be easer for me to mess up than a normal hard drive. Anyone have experience with this? Is this as easy as getting an external hard drive dock and plugging in drives? Cost wise how long has it taken for you to save money going the LTO route considering the initial investment usually involves purchasing an LTO reader?

Freelancers, business owners, let me know what your solution is. Thanks!


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Tim Jones
Re: Long term storage, what's your solution?
on Jan 5, 2015 at 8:20:19 pm

Hi Dustin,

I can readily share with you that you will not be able to find a sub-$1,000 LTO-5 or LTO-6 drive unless it's well used and probably ready to expire. Unfortunately, the manufacturing costs of these devices well exceeds $1,000 in most cases.

Having said that, I still recommend LTO storage for clients looking to do more than move files around. Most software used with an LTO solution will alleviate any user issues - for example, our BRU PE solution is as easy as dragging and dropping. And, for Premiere Pro 6 - CC, you can even archive by project.

On the other hand, Seagate has released some new, very high capacity disk drives designed for archival. These drives are much slower than normal drives (5900RPM), but are designed for storage of data where capacity is more important than speed. For example, Amazon has the 5TB external drive for $159 (http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00J0O5R2I/). While you definitely wouldn't want to edit using this drive, it would definitely give you the space that you need to offload your existing data to clear space on your higher performance storage.

Tim
--
Tim Jones
CTO - TOLIS Group, Inc.
http://www.tolisgroup.com
BRU ... because it's the RESTORE that matters!


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Morten Ranmar
Re: Long term storage, what's your solution?
on Jan 5, 2015 at 9:43:47 pm

Hardrives are proximate to last 15 years on shelf, while LTO is said to last 50 years.
We use LTO, and it is a breeze...

- No Parking Production -

Adobe CC2014, 3 x MacPro, 3 x MbP, Ethernet File Server w. Areca ThunderRaid 8


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Morten Ranmar
Re: Long term storage, what's your solution?
on Jan 5, 2015 at 9:44:46 pm

Also if you are on a tight budget - go for LTO5 which is cheaper in drive and tapes.

- No Parking Production -

Adobe CC2014, 3 x MacPro, 3 x MbP, Ethernet File Server w. Areca ThunderRaid 8


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Walter Soyka
Re: Long term storage, what's your solution?
on Jan 5, 2015 at 10:21:42 pm

I'm a happy BRU customer -- and Tim, looking forward to that Windows version!

I understand that an LTO system is a big expense for a freelancer, but honestly, the thought of my work archive sitting on hard drives on a shelf would keep me up at night.

I do tiered storage: fast local RAID for current projects (synced across the team with Dropbox when feasible), nearline NAS for recent or warm projects, offline LTO-5 archive (in duplicate) for cold storage.

I also use Backblaze for cloud backup, plus periodic incremental tape backup.

Walter Soyka
Designer & Mad Scientist at Keen Live [link]
Motion Graphics, Widescreen Events, Presentation Design, and Consulting
@keenlive [twitter]   |   RenderBreak [blog]   |   Profile [LinkedIn]


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Andrew Kimery
Re: Long term storage, what's your solution?
on Jan 5, 2015 at 11:42:41 pm

[Morten Ranmar] "Hardrives are proximate to last 15 years on shelf, while LTO is said to last 50 years.
We use LTO, and it is a breeze..."


Are you going to hang onto a computer for 50 years too so you can access the files/codecs that are on the LTO? ;)

I agree that LTO is the best for archiving digital assets, but archiving digital assets is a slightly different beast than analog archiving assets. Analog archiving (whether it's photos on acid free paper or audio on the best tape money can buy) was a write-once and put-it-way venture but digital archiving is more of a rolling archive where every 5-10 years you transfer everything to a modern storage medium and modern file formats/codecs.

LTO, since it's designed for archiving and long term use, won't go out of fashion as quickly as say Jaz Drive's did, but a perfectly functioning LTO archive won't do you much good if the files on it aren't readable anymore.


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Alex Udell
Re: Long term storage, what's your solution?
on Jan 6, 2015 at 1:55:25 pm

I ran into this back in the Truevision Targa 2000 MJPEG days.

After they went under, it was a while before anyone reverse engineered a way to read those codecs.

Alex Udell
Editing, Motion Graphics, and Visual FX


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Don Hertz
Re: Long term storage, what's your solution?
on Jan 6, 2015 at 2:39:13 pm

I agree with most here - you won't find a sub-$1000 LTO drive but it's definitely still the way to go.

If you back up to a hard drive and then leave it on the shelf for a year or two without spinning up it can be like trying to start a car that hasn't been started in 2 years.

At the last production company I worked at we have 30+ external drives on the shelf housing all of our old shows. When the producers decided they wanted to do a "10 year" retrospective on the show we had to go back through a lot of that footage. Approximately one out of every 3 or 4 drives would not work.

In another instance, we had an intern restoring footage from a shoot that happened about six months prior, he made the mistake of grabbing the wrong power supply and fried the drive. No problem he thought, as we make duplicates of every drive in the facility, however, he then plugged the backup drive into the exact same power supply and blew that one out too. He didn't realize the power supply was the problem, he assumed the original drive was just dead. All the work was gone. None of these are issue with LTO.

LTO is worth the investment. Look into an external drive that supports LTFS as that's a cross platform file system standard. You don't want to be stuck unable to restore your data in ten years because the proprietary software you used to backup the files to tape is no longer manufactured.

As far as the comments about not being able to read a specific file format in ten years - that will always be a problem. Just try to stick with common, widely adopted formats. Then in an emergency ten years from now there's at least a good chance you are going to be able to find a converter that can re-compress the files if you need to. I have no expectations that I'll be able to open a full Premiere, Avid, or After Effects project 10 years from now - but I at least make sure the video files are in a common format before they go to tape.

Good luck!

Don.


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Chris Borjis
Re: Long term storage, what's your solution?
on Jan 7, 2015 at 6:08:01 pm
Last Edited By Chris Borjis on Jan 7, 2015 at 6:09:44 pm

[Don Hertz] "he made the mistake of grabbing the wrong power supply and fried the drive. No problem he thought, as we make duplicates of every drive in the facility, however, he then plugged the backup drive into the exact same power supply and blew that one out too. He didn't realize the power supply was the problem, he assumed the original drive was just dead."

We backup this way but every drive uses the same rated power supply to avoid that. Lacie drives
in particular are known to have identical pinout connectors but different amperages. bad.

We store one set of drives on site and one mirror set offsite. at least once a year
they are powered up and checked. Have not had a failure or lost any data yet in 9 years.

LTO is the best option though as others say and that's what the big motion picture companies
use to backup film assets.



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Dustin Parsons
Re: Long term storage, what's your solution?
on Jan 7, 2015 at 6:14:50 pm

Thanks for all the suggestions! Lots of great info here. For my purposes I think I'll end up getting the Seagate drives Tim pointed out since I don't need to hold onto my projects forever and only need to drop $300 to solve my immediate problem. If I end up acquiring a lot more footage over the next few years I'm sure LTO is the way I'll end up going.

Also, Backblaze looks awesome. Don't really have a need for it right now but wow! Can't beat the price.


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Chris Borjis
Re: Long term storage, what's your solution?
on Jan 8, 2015 at 5:20:23 pm

[Dustin Parsons] " I think I'll end up getting the Seagate drives"

Hey Dustin, be cautious with Seagate. They make the most unreliable drives of
any mfg. I've had several system drives go bad and lost data from them from crashing.

Backblaze even did MTF tests and found them to be the worst for reliable operation.

They found Hitachi to be the least prone to failure long term.



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Dustin Parsons
Re: Long term storage, what's your solution?
on Jan 8, 2015 at 6:25:37 pm

Hmmmm... well, I guess that's how they're able to sell a 5TB external drive for $40 cheaper than an internal drive from any other company. I just bought one of the Seagate drives to back up my Pegasus R6 which is setup as a RAID 5 so even if the Seagate dies on me in a few years so I should be okay since I have redundancy built into the R6. However, I don't know if I'll be buying 2 more of those now to archive my old projects. Thanks for the heads up


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Andrew Kimery
Re: Long term storage, what's your solution?
on Jan 7, 2015 at 7:29:40 pm

[Chris Borjis] "We backup this way but every drive uses the same rated power supply to avoid that. Lacie drives
in particular are known to have identical pinout connectors but different amperages. bad."


On a similar note, a place I used to work at used a 2 bay RAID1 unit that had a trayless removable drive setup so you just popped in a pair of drives like memory cards, did the backup then pulled the drives back out, put them in cases and set them on the shelf. Much cheaper and easier than buying a bunch of drives already in their own enclosures (by the time I left the backup consisted of over 100 drives). Only data loss was to human error (someone erased the wrong drive pair).


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Bryce Hoover
Re: Long term storage, what's your solution?
on Jan 16, 2015 at 2:38:30 pm

A word of caution on the RAID 1 solution.
I had a RAID 1 NewerTech Gardian MAXimus drive that had the fan go bad.
I ordered a new case for the drives and was told to backup the drives BEFORE installing them in the new case. That the chip in the new case wouldn't read the old drives and I'd have to reformat the drives before using them in the new case. I'm so glad he told me that. It would have been a HUGE disaster had he not informed me of this little detail. Maybe what I just described is only a problem with that particular enclosure... I wanted to share it just in case it's not.

-bh


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