Transferring Video


Transfer refers to the electronic or physical movement of video, metadata, and related documentation from one device or location to another. Transferring can occur at any point in a workflow, and often happens at multiple points.

Transferring includes any kind of copying, uploading, or downloading of files between local or remote devices (e.g. camera to computer, camera to cloud service, hard drive to local server, etc.) and the physical transportation or shipment of storage devices, such as USB sticks or hard drives.

Ideally, the result of a transfer is a file that is complete, unaltered, and in its original format. Videos can be easily lost, altered, corrupted, or disassociated from each other and their metadata and documentation when transfers are not done properly. Transferring media can also be a very time consuming process, so it is important to transfer efficiently.

There are a variety of methods to safely and securely transfer video files.

A Scenario: Getting Video to its Destination

The Citizen Journalists Network aims to get credible, high-quality video footage to major news outlets to highlight growing unrest in a remote area of their country. The Network needs to get video from this remote location to their contacts at BBC, CNN, and Al Jazeera without losing the metadata needed for verification, and without degrading the image/audio quality. The Network also needs to make sure that information with security restrictions is not released. What do they do?

  • After recording, Saira offloads the unaltered original files from her camera onto two encrypted portable hard drives. She also puts a text file with metadata on the hard drives.
  • Yaser physically carries one of the hard drives to the network’s safe central location, while Saira holds on to the other copy for safekeeping.
  • At the central location, Ahmed performs a virus check, then decrypts and copies the original files and additional metadata from the portable hard drive to their primary storage device, which is backed up.
  • Hala looks at the footage, and checks whether there is sensitive information that needs to be restricted in the videos or its metadata before it is shared outside of the network.
  • Hala selects and sends some original files with descriptions to her contacts in the news media via FTP.


Encrypt files when necessary

If your videos or documentation contain confidential information and your transfer is at risk of interception, encryption can be used to prevent the information from being revealed. The interceptor cannot decrypt and read your files without a secret key. Note that encryption does not prevent your files from being intercepted. Also be aware that possession of encrypted information can be incriminating in some cases.

Check for viruses

Malware like viruses and Trojans can spread through the Internet or on portable devices. Protect yourself from inadvertently acquiring malware by running virus check software on your computer and on portable devices before you transfer. If viruses are detected, clean your devices before transfer, and clean again after transfer. Also, only download or open attachments from known and trusted sources.

Try This: BASIC

There are many commercially available virus scanners. Some free virus scanners include ClamXAV, Immunet, and ClamWin.


ClamAV is an open source anti-virus engine for detecting Trojans, malware, viruses, and other malicious threats.

What’s Next

Offloading from Cameras
Best practices when getting video files off your camera or SD card.

Uploading and Downloading Video
What to look for when transferring videos over the Internet.

Keeping Files Intact (and Proving It)
How to use hashes/checksums.

Physical Transport
Using external hard drives or USB sticks to transport your videos.

Transferring Videos and Metadata Together
Putting your videos, metadata, and related documents together for easy transfer.

  • When offloading videos from your camera to your computer, make sure you transfer the files completely and without alteration.
  • Always make sure to include your metadata and documentation with your video—or make sure they can be matched together after transfer.
  • If using the Internet to transfer files, choose a file sharing service that meets your needs for permanence, data integrity, security, chain of custody, documentation, accessibility, efficiency, and cost.
  • Use hashes to check that your files have transferred intact, and to show that your files have not been altered over time.
  • If physically transporting drives, make sure to have another copy and be aware of cross-platform constraints.
  • Organize your videos in “information packages,” or folders with your video and metadata, for transfer.
Key Concept: Chain of Custody

Transfers are key events in the chain of custody. Learn More

Key Concept: Information Package

Use an information package to transfer videos with their metadata and documentation in one piece. Learn More

Key Concept: Metadata

Metadata embedded in an original file can be lost if the original file is not transferred intact. Learn More

Key Concept: Authenticity

A proper transfer maintains the authenticity of the video file. Learn More

Key Concept: Fixity

Files should remain unchanged even over multiple transfers over time. Learn More

Key Concept: Integrity

Transferred files should be complete, intact, and unaltered. Learn More

Key Concept: Original File

The ideal result of a transfer is to receive the original file. Learn More

The Archiving Workflow

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