Making decisions about your File Storage
As a business manager do you ever think about your digital assets? Or, are you like the vast majority of business owners who count on Google Drive links, dropbox folders, random emails, text messages, or drawers full of memory cards, flash storage, and external hard drives to store your business’s media assets? Part of managing your brand is managing these assets. You’ve paid good money, or spent valuable time creating your media, why would you let it sit in storage places all over your office or in the cloud. Here are 3 things you should consider to help tame the media beast:
- Well-organized and categorized assets can be accessed and used over and over again on different platforms. Taking different shots from the same video or photoshoot will create a consistency on social media that potential customers will appreciate.
- When it comes to data storage there is not a one size fits all solution. We handle 1000s of terabytes of data every year, we have developed our strategies for handling this information through research and trial and error, but the latter can be costly, so we do not recommend it.
- If you have one of those external Hard drives sitting on your desk holding all of your photos and videos it’s important to know that, spinning disks like that have a lifespan of only 3-5 years. This according to www.archiware.com a data backup and recovery specialist.
Over the past 20 years, the standards for professional digital cameras have ballooned from around 8 megapixels to greater than 24 megapixels per image. Professionals will tell you that more megapixels doesn’t make a better image, but what it does mean every time is larger file size. Every pixel is more data, so the more data you have the more information you have to store. When you consider that video is just a series of pictures taken at either 24, 30, 60 or 120 frames per second you can see how our data storage requirements can get out of control very quickly.
Working RAID Storage
As a media company we have invested thousands of dollars into ensuring our clients assets are well protected as well as accessible for our team to work from. Our storage solution, thanks in large part to the fine people with Genovations Tech involves a Raid system for redundancy along with super fast wired connections for up to 4 work stations in office. This server has allowed our video team to access 1000s of hours of video footage as though it was on their own laptop. Dealing with 4K footage is now the norm for our industry, and that is not going to change any time soon.
Another technology we've been utilizing for archival purposes is DV tape. These tapes can store up to 13GB of information at pennies pennies per GB vs SSD which is Nearly $2/GB and Standard Hard drives which are $1/GB. This solution does not allow for quick access, however it is stable and safe for up to 20 years. There are companies that will transfer your files to tape for you and that ranges in price significantly. If you are moving around some logo files or old designs this probably is not a worthwhile solution, however if you are dealing with TBs worth of video or photos then this is something you may want to consider.
Although it utilizes a very similar technology, Mini DV tapes from the early 2000s are not the same as the tape storage we are talking about. If you are looking for a way to digitize the old tapes so you have access to the video files then you will need to consider that 1 hour of Mini DV video is approximately 13 GBs worth of information that you will now need to store in order to maintain your access. Therefore if you are concerned about old DV tapes which are now over 20 years old, our recommendation is to back them up to a new DV tape if you do not need access to the videos, but if you do then capture the footage and store it on a RAID drive somewhere for safe keeping.
SSD vs Disk Storage
SSDs offer lots of advantages over disk storage. Number one is the speed at which they can access information. Because there are no moving parts the SSD storage also lasts longer. This makes it ideal for editing drives and storing files that you will need frequent and quick access to. The main downside to the SSD is still it's costs. Although they continue to drop in price they are still double the cost of spinning disks.
Because of their lower costs, disk drives allow you to swap speed and longevity for dollars and cents. In practice, drive speeds will be indiscernible for most users. Only those of us transferring GBs of information regularly will really feel their disadvantage. Because Spinning disks have a 3-5 year life span, it is important that these drives are most often set up in a raid type configuration and/or are swapped out every couple of years, even if they do not show any signs of failure. It only takes one drive to fail unexpectedly to learn this lesson in the most painful and time consuming way.
Cloud storage has gotten a lot of attention over the last decade. Services like Dropbox and Google drive make it REALLY easy to throw your files up to a server 1000s of miles from your place of business and this in fact does make your data safer in most instances. Imagine the worse case scenario where a fire or natural disaster takes out your office. Your cloud files will be ok, unlike any of the storage solutions you have on site. The problem with cloud storage still boils down to time and cost. Storing large amounts of data in the cloud takes time. Time to upload, time to find the files, time to download them, and you can forget about editing from the cloud for at least the next several years. The cloud offers security but not speed, so we often include it as a part of our file storage solutions.
Not a One Size Fits All Solution
There will always be better or worse solutions to the one you currently have for your media file storage problems. The best thing to do is to consult an expert to find a solution that meets your needs and stays within your budget. Which brings me to my final point. Data storage is most often an afterthought for business owners. We highly recommend moving this up on your priority list and doing more to create a budget for the the storage of your media assets. As we said earlier, Good assets are well organized assets. The old saying, "A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush" rings true here. In most cases, being able to access and use the assets you've paid for is worth far more than the assets you are dreaming up in your head to create. Sure it's not as much fun to talk about storage as it is to talk about creating, but a good brand will not develop without both.