Storing Video

Storage Media & Hardware

Choosing Storage Media

There are many different types of storage media, and you can use them in different combinations in a storage system. How to decide? Here are some key considerations:

Level of IT support available

You will have problems if you choose a system and do not have access to the resources and skills needed to operate and maintain it.

Size of your collection

Consider the total size of your collection and the size of an average file. If your collection is made up of large video files, for example, DVD-Rs are probably not a good choice since each disk can only hold 4.7 GB of data. Even if your files could fit on a disk, you would end up having to manage hundreds of disks (which could easily fit on a single hard drive).

Who needs access and where

Different devices and media offer varying degrees of accessibility. If multiple people need to access the collection at the same time from different places, for example, a set of external USB hard drives will not work as well as a networked storage device, like a NAS.

Ease in refreshing

The ease with which your files can be copied to new media and hardware is an important consideration. Copying data off hundreds of DVD-Rs, for example, would be very tedious!

Comparison of Typical Storage Media / Hardware

Portable hard drive

A hard disk drive with an external casing that can be easily plugged into or removed from a computer.

  • Ideal for
    • Collections no larger than 2-3TB.
    • Collections that only need to be accessed by one computer/user at a time.
    • Collections that need to be moved.
  • Advantages
    • Relatively low cost (usually $100-$500).
    • Portable.
  • Disadvantages
    • Drives (especially FireWire) fail often.
    • Platform-dependent.

Network-Attached Storage (NAS) Unit

A computer specially built to serve files from its storage devices to other computers in the network.

  • Ideal for
    • Collections larger than 1TB.
    • Collections that need to be accessed by multiple networked users.
    • Networks with at least 1 Gb Ethernet, if files are large.
    • Organizations with IT support.
  • Advantages
    • Multiple users can access NAS at the same time, collection can be consolidated.
    • Can be used in Windows/Mac mixed environments.
    • Relatively affordable (Consumer-grade NAS starts at $200. Higher-end NAS ranges from $1000-$2000).
  • Disadvantages
    • Potentially less secure because it is always on.
    • Less portable than external hard drives.
    • Requires skilled IT to resolve network problems.

Cloud storage

Remote storage that is managed by a third party, like a data center. Content is stored on multiple servers, and is accessed by users through an online interface.

  • Ideal for
    • Small collections.
    • Collections that need to be accessed by people in different locations.
    • Users with stable Internet access.
  • Advantages
    • Collections can be shared around the world.
    • Storage is maintained by third party, often with significant infrastructure.
  • Disadvantages
    • Need substantial bandwidth to upload and download files
    • Ongoing subscription fees for commercial services, sometimes also fees for access.
    • Service can terminate at any time, sometimes without notice or cause.

Storage Area Network (SAN)

A high-speed network of storage devices separate from a regular local area network. SANs make storage accessible to servers as if they were locally attached.

  • Ideal for
    • Collections that require high-speed access, such as for video editing, over a network.
    • Collections that need to be accessed by multiple networked users.
    • Organizations with strong IT infrastructure and support.
  • Advantages
    • High-speed network.
    • Multiple users can access collection at the same time, can consolidate collection.
  • Disadvantages
    • High cost (starting at $10,000).
    • Many hardware and software components, requires professional IT support.

What is RAID?

You may have seen the term “RAID” in the names or descriptions of disk-based storage devices. RAID stands for “redundant array of independent disks.” It is a storage technology in which multiple hard drives are used together to provide fault tolerance and improved performance. Data from your files is distributed across drives with some additional calculated data, so that they can be recovered if part of the RAID gets damaged.

A RAID provides protection for your files in case a piece of hardware fails. Fault tolerant storage is not the same as having multiple copies or backup, however, and does not provide as much protection as having multiple copies or backup. Fault tolerant storage allows you to rebuild data when a drive fails, but does not allow you to recover corrupted, deleted, or altered files.

There are a number of ways that data can be distributed in a RAID. The standard configurations are referred to as RAID “levels” (e.g. RAID 5, RAID 6). Different RAID levels provide different degrees of fault tolerance. Generally, the more fault-tolerant your storage is, the more disk space is required to store your collection.

In This Section
  1. Introduction
  2. Storage Strategies
  3. Storage Media / Hardware
  • Make (at least) 2 backup copies of your originals. Keep one backup copy onsite for quick recovery, and one offsite in case of major disaster.
  • For the parts of your storage that are frequently updated or changed, use backup software that can perform incremental backups.
  • Synchronization – also known as replication or mirroring — is not the same as backup. Synchronization does not allow you to go “back in time” to recover lost or changed files.
  • Separate your copies in different geographic locations, on different media, and even with other organizations.
  • Control physical and electronic access to your collection to prevent accidental or deliberate tampering and deletion.
  • Use hashes – also known as checksums — to periodically check your files for errors to ensure data integrity.
  • Consider your available IT support, nature and size of your collection, and access requirements when choosing storage media and devices.
  • Different storage media and devices are ideal for different situations. Choose the ones that suit you.
  • Fault tolerant storage (i.e. RAID) can protect your files when hardware fails, but it is not the same as copying or backup.
  • Anticipate the need to refresh (i.e. replace) your storage media and devices every few (approximately 3-5) years.
Key Concept: Refreshing

Storage devices are not long lasting, and need to be replaced every few years before they fail.
Read More

Key Concept: Fixity

The aim of good storage strategies is to ensure the integrity of stored objects over time.
Read More

The Archiving Workflow

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