Best Ways To Backup & Archive Your Video Projects

JJ Powell • Jun 28, 2019



You've got footage, you've spent a lot of time shooting it, you don't wanna lose it because there's nothing worse than having spent three days on a shoot and then having to re-shoot that three days because your data got lost. First things first, I want to specify that a RAID is not a backup. Again, a RAID is not a backup. RAIDs are great in terms of making sure that you don't lose everything if a single drive goes out, however, RAIDs can also be destroyed.

We, in fact, had a customer who had a thunderstorm take their entire Jellyfish out because there was a power surge that went up through the power cable of the Jellyfish and fried the circuitry of the Jellyfish. Thankfully, because of the way that we've designed the Jellyfish, they were able to take all of the drives out of their existing Jellyfish, put it into a new Jellyfish, and then they were able to bring everything back online. They didn't lose any of their data. Now, that is great. However, had they been on another device, or had the power surge been any worse, there's a possibility that they could've lost all of their information.

Keep Three Different Copies of your Media

That being said, there is one rule that we recommend that everybody follow if they can. We understand you can't always afford all of this, but we do highly recommend that you have three copies of your data in two different places and only work from one of them.


The first copy is the copy you're working from. Whatever that is, we highly recommend that it be in a RAID. That way if anything happens to one of the drives in the RAID, you haven't lost everything. If you're working with one single external hard drive, you're taking on quite a bit of risk. If you're working with a team we highly recommend working with the JellyFish. It is the only shared storage solution that was built from the ground up with editors in mind.

Nearline Backup

For your second copy, you're looking for something that is an easily accessible backup of all of the data that is on your working copy. So this can be something like an OWC ThunderBay, or a G-Speed Shuttle, or a Promise Pegasus. Again something with RAID protections is still highly recommended so that you don't lose all of your data if a drive goes out.

Off-site Backup

Your third copy should be a long term copy that you keep off-site. The truth we don't often want to think about is that something can actually happen to our site. Things like fires and earthquakes and tornadoes do happen. It's very rare that that sort of thing is going to destroy all of your data, but it has happened in the past, and it could happen in the future. To make sure that you're not at full risk, we recommend considering one of two solutions.

Cloud Backup

The first is Cloud backup. Now Cloud backup is easily accessible to most everybody. One of the major benefits of Cloud backup is that somebody else is consistently taking care of the hardware side of the backup, and you're not having to think about moving from one drive to another drive, to another drive, to another drive, Instead, there's usually multiple data centers behind the Cloud, and if one site goes down, then another data center site is still standing to take care of that data.

LTO Tape

The other solution, and one that I'm a huge advocate for, is LTO tape. Something that's super nice about LTO is that it lasts for a theoretical 20 years. There are standards that change over time, but as long as you keep that original LTO drive, then you've got the ability to pull from any number of your LTO tapes. Something to know about LTO is that you do have to pay an upfront cost for your LTO drive, which will allow you to read a specific standard of LTO. And those can cost in the thousands of dollars. But once you have that, the cost per terabyte, whenever you're thinking about buying the actual tapes, is somewhere around $10 to $12 per terabyte, which is actually a really, really, really good deal, even compared to spinning disc drives.

Surely, this is just for people working on feature films...

Actually, you don't have to be working on a feature film for this to be beneficial. If you're working on an in-house team, over time you're gonna build up terabytes upon terabytes of footage that you're going to want to be able to access in the future.

Here at LumaForge, we're constantly re-accessing archival materials that we shot months and months or sometimes even years ago because it's applicable to whatever it is that we're talking about.

We shoot RED raw footage, which means that we can bring this out of the archive and anytime RED updates the way that they handle the raw footage, we get the benefits of new detail and highlight and color handling, which is really amazing. And because we had an archival strategy, we have the ability to bring this footage back to you in this video even a year and a half, two years after we shot it.

So, again, when you're thinking about shooting your project, make sure that you're thinking not just about the short term costs of actually getting everything shot, but think about the fact that you probably don't wanna have to shoot all of this again, right? So make sure to consider having three copies in two different places, working from one. Make sure that those copies are copies that you can rely upon, and that you do this as smartly as possible.

While this piece does a deep dive into backup and archive, it's also important to make sure your active storage, or shared storage, is taken care of as well. Feel free to connect with our workflow team to learn more or dive in yourself on our Jellyfish Mobile, Tower, or Rack pages.

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