Data Storage: Where Nothing Can Possibly Go “Worng”

data storage

Data storage is boring. Sorry, LaCie. It’s much more exciting to talk about the latest drone or camera or plug-in. But, in reality, you really do want the process of storing all that important footage to be boring, because if it gets exciting, that’s when you get into trouble.

Bare Drives

Many people use bare drives as external drives. These are drives sold as “internal,” meaning they’re designed to be installed inside a computer. By using special caddies, they’re supplied with power and a data connector like USB, so they can be used like an external drive.

I spent some time with an engineer at a hard drive manufacturer, and he explained some of their forensic findings relative to customers’ drive failures. Many of their discoveries only appeared at the microscopic level and can be traced to static electricity that caused damage to components.

There’s a reason why an external hard drive has a chassis. It prevents you from making direct contact with the hard drive components, which helps minimize damage from static electricity. It also helps prevent physical damage from contact with the components on the circuit boards. The damage can cause failure right away or it may lower the performance of the drive system, perhaps causing a catastrophic failure down the road.


Another habit I see more commonly is something that no one really thinks about. Both on set and in post, I see people carrying drives around with power and/or data cables connected. All it takes is a little bump against a doorframe, a wall or a person, and either the power connector or the data connector can be damaged. It might not cause a failure right away, but a bump here and a bump there add up. The connectors get weaker and weaker.

Preventing this doesn’t take much time. Simply disconnect all cables from the drive before you move it. It might seem like overkill, but developing a full disconnect habit is a good thing.

I know it can be trite to say, “It’s not if you lose a drive, but when you lose a drive….” But with file sizes growing by leaps and bounds, we count on our storage to work day in and day out. Breaking some bad habits can help prevent data loss.

Michael Guncheon is an accomplished editor who has cut a wide range of projects, including music videos for Prince, a documentary on Genesis, and numerous commercials and corporate pieces. A partner at HDMG, a Minneapolis video production and post-production company, Guncheon has written several books on DSLRs and is the author of the Kodak Digital Photo Guide. He has presented his talk on shooting with HDSLRs at Twin Cities Public Television, WGBH in Boston, PBS in New York, the Hollywood Post Alliance and at the annual SMPTE conference in Hollywood.