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One of the major risks in the world of video content is The Great Fear: Losing all your work. If it’s not backed up properly, an entire shoot can be a total wash. The good thing is, we now have tons of tech options and practices that can duplicate and save valuable work.
We reached out to Larry O’Connor, Founder and CEO, of storage solutions powerhouse company OWC, to help us gather the right hardware for every type of video situation. Read on for Larry’s best practices for storage and his recommendations for keeping your project safe every step of the way.
A brief glossary of hard drives
Hard disk drives (HDD) are the most common and recognizable storage devices used by computers and external drives over the past several decades.
Solid state drives (SSD) are similar to the HDD, but use flash memory with no moving parts inside.
Non-Volatile Memory Express (NVMe) is a communication standard specifically built to optimize flash technology performance to deliver faster SSD performance via PCIe.
OK, onto the gear
With all the key details that can make or break a project — script, casting, location scouting, equipment and crew needed — you need to make sure your “pre-pro” work is accessible yet protected. Save early and save often, and choose storage devices that are high-capacity and lower cost.
$119.00 — $479.00
Best for: Location scouting or off-site visits with clients
This sleek dust-proof, waterproof design fits into your pocket, making it both durable and versatile.
Best for: Studio, desktop devices
This dual-drive, desktop-friendly hardware offers speed, flexibility and up to 32TB of storage/backup capacity.
Just like location is key in real estate, storage speed is key in the production phase. You’re processing tons of footage and you might not be in the comfort of your office or pre-production space. Wherever you are, you need to make sure that footage doesn’t take an eternity to process.
$529.75 — $1,999.75
Best for: Controlled studio environments, on-set backups
Whether you’re using the newest Mac Pro, a legacy Mac, or a PC tower on set, you’ll want the Accelsior card SSD. It’s the fastest SSD OWC offers (over 6,000MB/s), perfect for streaming and editing large format video and graphics files without hiccups.
Best for: Large-scale projects
When your project needs both speed and massive capacity, look no further than OWC’s ThunderBay line. Need something compact to fit on a crowded set or DIT cart? Consider ThunderBay 4 mini.
Shipping from location to the studio
It’s possible you’ll need to get your work to your editors or collaborators before you actually make it back home. Here are the hard drives that are durable to ship with.
Best for: Durability, backing up a shooting day
The Mercury Helios and the U.2 NVMe Interchange System were designed to bridge workflow between production and post. It brings you fast U.2 NVMe SSDs performance with easy drive swap convenience in a protective, transportable carrier. This light, durable SSD lets you quickly transfer a day’s worth of shooting and send it to edit, while saving on shipping costs with its lightweight structure.
Best for: Travel productions, outside shooting
Designed to be rugged, dependable and blazing fast, the ThunderBlade is equally at home on the road, on set, and in the edit bay. It comes with a ballistic hard shell case to make it transportable and shippable. It is small but mighty, boasting up to 8TB of storage (with up to 2800MB/s read speeds and 2450MB/s write speeds).
Many of the drives listed under production can be used in post. In fact, this is where the ThunderBlade, Mercury Helios, and ThunderBay mini shine as they can be taken right to edit.
Best for: Real-time collaborative editing
The 5-Bay desktop Jupiter mini is an ideal solution for large-scale team projects. It’s small enough to fit into a carry-on, yet offers massive storage (up to 70TB). Plus, it’s compatible with all the leading video editing systems.
Mercury Pro LTO
Best for: Saving and forgetting it for 30 years
After all the creativity and editing is done, there’s one more step to finishing the project. When archiving your work, you’ll want to choose gear that is shelf-stable and that won’t wipe your files after sitting idly for a few months. The Mercury Pro LTO will be available in June 2020 for purchase, so you can now preserve your work for up to three decades.
A final word on terabytes
Most of the drives above reference terabytes of storage, so for some human reference: 1TB of hard drive capacity = 200,000 hi-res photos, 85 minutes of 4K RAW footage, over 41 hours of GoPro 4K, or 4.3 million Microsoft Office files.