Backups and Archiving 101

Over the years we have tried several different methods of backing-up and archiving our footage. When we first got into the business, we tried to go with the most inexpensive route. We were shooting on tape format so we would drop all of our main footage on drives and edit them from there. We really didn’t back-up because we figured we were secure with our tapes being the archive. While this seemed to make sense, there were a few moments of panic as we tried to sift through hundreds of tapes to find the lost footage. It turned out to be a total nightmare!

Since most filmmakers have shifted away from a tape format, we MUST have a fast and effective way to back-up our data and effectively archive. Obviously we can’t archive like they do in Hollywood,  but we can feel pretty secure that our data is protected both inexpensively and effectively.

My biggest recommendation is to find help! Unless you have a wealth of knowledge about computers then you should find an IT person who can steer you in the right direction. I’m semi savvy with the computers but a lot of what I have learned through archiving is over my head! The great thing about an IT person is that if something goes wrong say your raid crashes,  you will be up and running the next day. We pay $125.00 an hour for the IT person who maintains our system. It took him about 4 hours to get all our computers in sync and to get our raids and archive drives in order. From time to time we have him come in just to do some maintenance. It’s great to have a person to call when something goes wrong- money well spent!

So, how do we backup and archive? Currently we are using the Pegasus Promise raid with 12TB of storage. What makes this raid so amazing is that it has Thunderbolt technology and you can daisy chain up to 6 Promise raids at once.

So heres how our raid is set up according to Nate our awesome IT guy:

We have 2 separate raids each setup with RAID 0 (striped). 8TB of Scratch disk that backs up nightly to the other 8TB Scratch_Backup aka work backup.

We are using the Thunderbolt protocol for the fastest throughput available.

We have a total of 8TB with a RAID 0 (striped) to provide faster write speeds and another 8TB backup which is RAID 0 (striped) that matches the scratch disk with an automated backup. We use a software called Super Duper for automatic backups. What is great about this is that we set an automatic timer at 9 P.M and when we get to our edits in the morning all of our footage has already been backed up.

This allows you state of the art throughput with redundancy and expandability using the latest Thunderbolt technology.

Here’s the way it works. We have two separate drives that show up on our desktop. We dump our raw footage on to drive one and late in the night it’s automatically backed up. If for any reason the Raid enclosure breaks we can simply swop out the drives and put them in to a new enclosure. If one drive starts to fail on us we simply switch out the drive for a new one and it automatically backs up.

This back-up method is safe, fast, and effective and theres generally zero down time if a drive fails. Finally coming to a point where we are backing up thoroughly has been the best money we have spent- after all, you can’t put a price on peace of mind.


Alex KarasBackups and Archiving 101