Reliable Data, Part 1

I recently wrote about my experiences testing out G-Technology’s G-Speed Shuttle SSD and how it offers various RAID configurations. It started a discussion with a colleague about how we each handle our data to make sure it’s there when we need it.

Of course, everybody has their own requirements. And if you’re working on movie, television or commercial work, the requirements might be set by the studio or the insurer and not by you. Usually, a discussion about protecting data starts with what will happen on set—multiple copies on LTO tapes sent to different locations could be the norm for feature work—on through various archiving schemes for masters.

Since I’m usually not on set and archiving masters, I want to narrow the discussion to the ways you can keep things safe during post. Specifically, I want to focus on in-progress post-production backups.

When I talk to editors about backing up their data for post, I ask them to take a minute, sit in front of their workstation with a project running and then close their eyes. Then I ask them to open their eyes and imagine that everything is gone. Usually, they roll their eyes and say that’s not going to happen. But what if someone broke into your suite and stole all that you see or there was a fire or flood? It has all happened to someone.

The editors are usually still incredulous. So, then I start picking and choosing: What if your data drive is gone? Or wherever you store your project file? The usual answer I hear is that the footage is backed up so they can just copy it back over.

My response is yes, you can get back to where you were, but how long is that going to take? Are you going to make your deadline if you spend a day trying to get back to where you were? Will all the new files on the new device link up properly?

Notice that my nightmare scenario is about devices that go missing. If all I asked was, “What if that drive failed?” then this would turn into a discussion about using various RAID levels to protect for drive failure. But I don’t care what number you put after RAID —1, 5, 6, 10, 50, 60 or 100—if the whole unit is gone, it can’t rebuild itself.

So, ask yourself how safe your data is during post.

Next time I’ll discuss different ways to keep your data safe during post.