OK, it has been a while since I did a spontaneous blog post…dealing with an issue I am faced with at this moment.  But, it is one that has always been in the air, and has driven me to make the decisions I have made.


I know that the current thought for rock solid archiving is LTO or DLT tape drive backups.  Because this is what banks use to archive all their data.  Yes, you have to buy a deck, and while it doesn’t cost as much as, say an HDCAM SR deck or D5 deck…it isn’t cheap.  And then you have multiple options…LTO3, LTO4, DLT.  And multiple types of software to backup/recover this data.  Not much of a standard there.  Although when I was at the DV Expo, there seemed to be a consortium of LTO drive makers that all were backing the new way of archiving, one that made things very simple, and made the drives show up like hard drives, and you could grab what you wanted. Still, to many places it is still cost prohibitive, and somewhat complex (if you don’t get newest) software.

The issue I’m facing today is that the first two seasons of a show had their camera masters archived to LTO4, using NETVAULT software.  They did this when they were housed at a post facility.  So archival and recovery was easy, as it was under the same roof as they were editing.  But then the post house closed, and auctioned off all of their equipment.  And the production didn’t buy the LTO deck.  So now they had all these tapes with their source footage, and no way to get anything off of them.  It’s like when I asked for an HD copy of a show I edited for my reel, and I was handed an HDCAM tape.  Well…nice, but, I don’t have an HDCAM deck.

So today the production told me that they needed to retreive some footage from a previous season to use in the current season.  But all they had were these tapes.  And the post house was gone.  It was now my job to find a way to get this footage off the drives.  I called around, and found a place that had the drives, had the software, and could do just what I needed.  And it was relatively cheap…but not when your budget is already spent, and low low low as it was.  There was a per/GB charge that wasn’t too bad, but then a bay rental fee.  And the total was steep given the budget, but what could we do?  We needed the footage.

This situation makes me feel much better about how I archive the current season of the show.  My current solution is to archive to hard drives.  And not one drive, but two per archive.  A manual “RAID 1″ if you will.  I backup all the cards to two hard drives…redundancy.  So I get 1TB Hitachi hard drives (around $60 each), and I have this SansDigital 4 drive eSATA dock ($99)…and I simply slap bare SATA drives in, backup, take them out, put them into Webietech drive cases ($7), and I’m done.  They are easy to access…and I don’t need my DOCK to access them.  Any single drive SATA docking system will work.  And they are cheap, so I can get a couple to keep around in storage if I wanted.  Then I can access any of the drives, any time I want.  Heck, I can even slap them onto a drive tray on my MacPro!

When I hand off drives to clients, I get drives with enclosures, so they can access them any time on any machine they want. Two drive redundancy if they want…they pay for the drives.

I know that LTO options are getting standardized, but still, when a client wants the source backups, and the get handed one of these…they now are in the situation described above.  With a tape in hand and no easy means to access the footage.  And from experience, clients want the easiest thing possible.