Tag Archives: external storage

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Thanks to B&H and Lacie for sending out this 6big Thunderbolt 3 6-Bay RAID Array for me to try out, and I have to say it's certainly my made my workflow a lot more productive in many ways. In order to feel confident about this system, i've been running it full time as my primary external drive for well over a month before posting up this article. External storage is often the last thing video editors thinking about investing in. First it's the camera equipment, and then maybe a good computer with some horsepower behind it. Storage is just an external drive plugged in, and when it fills up just grab another external drive. But as you get more serious, and start working with higher profile clients, managing media should become a priority. Physical drives can (and will) eventually fail, and that's just not good business. Referrals are a big part of freelancing video shooters, so having the right tools is like investing in your reputation.

But while you can setup small redundancy with a RAID0 or RAID1 and a minimum of 2 drives, video editors will want to take advantage of RAID5 which requires a minimum of 3 drives. And with RAID5 the more drives, the better write performance which will benefit you as a video editor in many ways. That leads you to 4-5 (or more) drives in an Array, and so it's obvious why the Lacie 6big 6-Bay RAID Array can be a great option for video editors. (Obviously it's not meant for those who are constantly traveling the world and editing from a Laptop).

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LaCie 6big 6-Bay Thunderbolt 3 RAID Array

One service I offer as a freelancer is multi-camera type production which often includes event type coverage (Conferences, performances, theater, etc). It's the reason I own (3) Panasonic cameras + (3) BlackMagic Design Ursa Mini Cameras. If need be I also have a few different setups for Live Production (switching), and even Live Streaming. I won't go into detail about my setup here, but i'll tell you that shooting hours of non-stop video for each event adds up to a lot of data. When we're talking about using media hungry BlackMagic Design Ursa Mini 4.6K cameras, we're talking HUGE amounts of data (terabytes).

Ursa Mini Cameras

When you start to deal with large amounts of data, you need massive storage. A RAID Array comprising of several drives can be setup to be seen as a single drive, so you don't have a bunch of external drives connected to your system and having to sift through files. Of course with this much important client data, a RAID1 or RAID5 is something you should at least have setup (if not a more advanced backup setup).

Spanning several drives for simultaneous READ/WRITE also helps to ingest your video footage faster when offloading. I'm saving a ton of time here as I can offload my Terabytes of media faster, and saving even more time because I don't have to worry about creating backups to another physical drive. It's all happening at the same time. And because it's able to write to several spinning 7200RPM drives at the time, we're getting far better performance than SSD Drives at a fraction of the cost (even with redundancy enabled).


Apple MAC PRO Desktop 12-Core

My main Video Editing system which is an older MAC Pro Desktop only offers Thunderbolt 2 and USB 3.0. So while i'm seeing a huge difference is my drive performance with the Lacie 6big, my older system is unable to take advantage of the Lacie 6big's full potential. It's important to have a good CPU and GPU setup on your system for any type of graphics work, but those are areas you're not ready to invest in, there are many instances where you'll see improvements in your workflow just by adding a faster drive. For me personally, i'm seeing better playback speeds in Davinci Resolve when editing off the Lacie 6big and with my FCPX Libraries and cache pointing to the Lacie 6big, editing seems to be faster (as FCPX is constantly creating optimized files in the Library).

Having this level of storage capacity, redundancy, and performance in an external drive system really does have an impact with what goes on behind the scenes that we don't often think about. I can transfer my footage faster, I don't worry so much about drive failures, and I feel it's improved my editing workflow. While I could build out smaller RAID systems, it's really hard to imagine working with anything less than a RAID5 with at least 5-6 drives (because having less drives in a RAID5 setup would impact write performance).

Hopefully i'll be upgrading my computer to take advantage of Thunderbolt 3 soon (really want that new iMac), and i'll continue to work with the Lacie 6big for as long as I can. So if you have any questions about the Lacie 6big 6-Bay RAID Array, drop me a comment.

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LaCie 6big 6-Bay Thunderbolt 3 RAID Array

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Everyone eventually needs external hard drive space. For most people it might just be basic storage. But if you're a Photo / Video editor you might be interested in fast performance. Or perhaps you're concerned about protecting data from an important project and you want to have a backup mirrored drive (redundancy).

Here's a sub $100 dollar Dual Hard Drive Dock that can do all of those things, while still remaining flexible depending on your needs. With built in hardware, it's incredibly easy to setup. All you need to do is insert blank drives, flick a few dip switches, and press button to initiate your Drive Setup choice.

The Xcellon allows you to dock either larger Desktop 3.5" or smaller 2.5" drives. It even works well with Sandisk Solid State Drives (SSD). And the Dock makes it easy to swap like an old video game cartridge if you happen to store data across multiple drives.

The benefit to these drive docks is you'll end up saving money by just buying bare drives with no enclosures. When your drives are not in use, you can store and protect them in dedicated Hard Drive cases (like these).

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Learn More 3.5" / 2.5" Hard Drive Storage Protection Cases

If you're even more organized, you can create several different types of external storage and swap between them depending on your needs at the current time.

Using JBOD, the dual drive dock is your basic external hard drive. For each hard drive, you'll see a different Storage Drive on your computer.

Using Span is basic storage but takes both drives and only shows you one single external drive on your system. So that you don't have to think about which drive your footage is store in.

If you're looking for fast performance from your drives while editing videos / photos, then you might want to setup two Drives in a Raid0. This will allow your system to send data between both drives simultaneously. But keep in mind there is no redundancy here.

If you're more concerned about redundancy (mirrored data), then you'll want to choose a Raid1 setup. The data written to one drive is automatically duplicated to the other in case of a hard drive failure. A great way to ensure your important client data is safe.

Not quite as fast as Thunderbolt, but the Xcellon Dual Hard Drive Dock is setup to take advantage of increased capable speeds with the latest Type-C USB 3.1 (and backwards compatible).

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Learn-More-sm Xcellon USB Type-C Dual Drive Docking Station

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Let's face it, i'm pretty sure you guys aren't burning quite as many DVD's as you were in the past. Once you move onto DSLR video, you're not going to try and backup 16 or 32GB of data onto DVD media. Even Blu-Ray is still overpriced and slow to read / write. The new workflow is hard drive storage. In fact, when i'm offloading data from my set to hand over to the editor, it's all on external drives. We're not dealing in disc media. The problems with hard drives (and I know, I work on computers all day) they will FAIL. Yes..be it traditional, or solid state drives, don't count on putting all of your eggs in one basket. There are many problems that WILL occur with storing all of your data in one drive.

Buying 2 hard drives to 'Mirror' the data is a great cheap solution, but a very slow process and never quite up to sync in real time. So now we're talking about Storage Units, cases that support drive bays, raid, mirroring, striping, however people want to explain it to you. The basic principle is that with a Storage Unit that can house several hard drives at one time, you can increase your total storage capacity in a single 'Drive Letter' and at the same time mirror your data across several different drives in case of failure. Just a few years ago units like these were only for Enterprise use and cost thousand of dollars. Now that technology has become cheaper, hard drives can contain more storage, these units are now being put up in homes. Especially with the craze of HD video files, it's just a smart choice to start looking into these units.

The most popular units that were targeted to the home were made by Drobo. They've been out for quite a while, but I could never find myself spending so much money on something. Now that prices have dropped incredibly for Drobo Storage units, hard drive capacities are huge, I think it's time I add this to my current workflow. Just remember when choosing a storage unit like Drobo, find one that can support the correct file system (i.e. NTFS) for your files that are larger than 4GB. B&H has a $100 dollar instant rebate on this unit (at this time of writing). Note: This unit may not support NTFS file format. Please check before you buy. If it doesn't, it would still be great for Photographers though!

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