After a costly hard drive failure a while back, I learned an important lesson on how to archive important files for the future. After working at NASA, I knew that redundancy is key to a safe archive, but how much redundancy is needed? While the cost of large, 1TB+ hard drives are coming down in price, they are much more prone to failure according to the fine folks at DriveSavers. Their recommendation is to use smaller drives such as 750gb or lower. This presents a conundrum for small business owners, tape-less production houses or anybody handling large amounts of data. Spend a pretty penny on large capacity server systems or have a library full of smaller, more stable backup drives? Well there are actually more options than you think. Here are a few suggestions to get you started thinking about your solution. (FYI: JBK Productions is not paid or sponsored by any of the links in this article. They are just personal recommendations)
Redundancy is key to a safe archive
Servers, in my humble opinion, are the ultimate solution if you have a large amount of data that you want to have access to most anywhere. These systems are stationary, however, you can configure them to be accessed remotely as long as your have a network connection. This works great especially for photographers that want to archive their photos and host customer galleries, businesses that want their employees to be able to access files on the road and production houses that want the best security while editing large projects. However, these systems are costly and do require maintenance. The guys over at ImprovePhotography.com recommend the NetGear ReadyNAS server for their backup and hosting.
[Servers]are the ultimate solution…
Dual drive RAID systems
As an affordable alternative to a server, dual drive RAID external hard drives are one of my favorite options for a couple reasons. 1.) If set to a RAID 1 mirror, your information is written to both drives equally so that if one drive goes down, it is safely stored on the other. 2.) They are portable! That means that I can safely edit while on the road, take a project to clients’ editing suite or bring a project home with me to finish. There are many brands to choose from, however after reading reviews on CreativeCow and discussing with colleagues, my choice was the G-Tech G-RAID. For more information on how to choose one for your system, check out the video below from CreativePlanetNetwork.
Cloud & data managing services
If you have a company or individual that doesn’t have terabytes of information and you want to leave the system maintenance to someone else, there are plenty of companies out there that offer cloud networking and data management services on a subscription basis. One of the most popular is from Carbonite.com. Personally, I have not used these services other than from Apple and Amazon so do your research before you buy. Typically, the larger space you need, the higher the cost.
I hope this helps you start to consider the best archive for you. This article is just a stepping off point and you should always consult with your IT professional before deciding on any solution. Your final archiving system may have combinations of these or other systems such as LTO tapes.