Cameras, lenses, lighting, mixing boards, and all the expensive equipment that helps creative professionals to create is just…equipment. And equipment can be replaced.
When your hard drive goes to swim with the fishes, though, there’s a very good chance your data sinks with it if you don’t have the right setup. Good luck trying to convince 20 models to come back for the same fashion shoot. You want that rising rock band to play an encore concert because your primary footage file was corrupted? Dream on.
Your data is your career. Buying the wrong storage is a mistake you can’t afford to make. However, of the several ways you can follow to protect your digital lifeblood, we already told you the easiest in our last post: Pick enterprise-grade hard drives. What we didn’t explain until now was when they matter specifically to content creators.
Let’s return to the HGST Ultrastar 7K6000 HDD we discussed last time. The Ultrastar’s sustained throughput tops out at 227MB/s. Considering the size of 4K/5K videos, RAW files, and so forth, wouldn’t you want a HDD that makes transferring them to and from your workstation?
Enterprise-grade drives are made to sustain a consistently high performance level hour after hour, week after week in the face of a sustained, heavy load. Consumer-grade drives are typically used for a day of checking email, scrolling through social media, and light Web surfing that isn’t very taxing. Remember that when you’re having to move terabytes of data within hours of a deadline.
Creative professionals, particularly filmmakers who measure their high-def, high frame rate jobs in terabytes each, can run a tremendous amount of traffic through their storage solutions. Whether published or not, hard drives are engineered according to workload rate limits (WRLs), meaning the total amount of read/write traffic a drive can expect to reliably handle in one year
Now consider a 4K video shoot. You might have 2TB of raw footage. If you’re following best practices, this gets backed up — twice. You might have compressed versions for editing and client previews, and so on. Collectively, a single job could amount to 10TB of total capacity use. With several jobs, you can attain a high WRL just by transferring around files, perhaps multiple times, in the process of performing editing, maintenance, and storage migration.
Imagine you’re on deadline for three clients within two weeks, pulling 14-hour days and sweating bullets. You’re pushing your hard drives to work harder than normal. Inevitably, one dies. No problem, right? You’re running that drive in a RAID 5, plus you’ve got a backup in the closet.
Think it through. Is that backup RAID-protected? If not, putting it into use as your only copy exposes you to extra risk as you have no additional backup. Making a backup of the backup, as you should, will take hours you don’t have and may require taking time to buy that additional drive. Meanwhile, your RAID is intact but now running in degraded mode, because one of its drives is dead, and that means that you’ll be limping along with a fraction of your former throughput. You can replace the dead drive and rebuild the array, but rebuilding takes many hours — possibly days in the case of large arrays.
See the problem? Everywhere you turn, losing just one drive means bleeding out time everywhere. If nothing else — consider enterprise-grade drives where the performance and workload rate limits are tested in environments that are always on to be ready whenever you are. How much is that worth?
Can you afford not to use enterprise-grade drives?
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