Recently, there was a good discussion on the MediaMotion After Effects list about archiving projects. Some use RAIDs and shared network storage devices; some use tape drives such as the Quantum LTO-3; some use stacks of DVDs; some use raw hard disks with adaptors like the Wiebetech ComboDock (which Art Adams wrote about a few weeks ago). However, three universal themes emerged:
- Not all CD or DVD media is created equal. Some media will deteriorate frighteningly quickly if exposed to bright light. Gold discs are the gold standard, but often expensive or unavailable; the best price/performance solution seems to be to use Taiyo Yuden media. Here is an article explaining why. This article also suggests that it is better to use DVD+R media over DVD-R media as it has more robust tracking. I admit to having avoided DVD+R because it does not seem to be as broadly compatible as DVD-R, but for internal archives, DVD+R may be the way to go.
- Enlist software such as CDFinder which will help you track down which project or file is on what piece of backup media, whether it be a disc or a drive. (For day to day workflow – not just archiving – GridIron’s Flow looks like it’s going to be the mother of all file trackers, by the way.)
- Make more than one copy. Discs, tapes, and drives do indeed eventually fail – or get dropped, or get lost. As tapes hold more (800 GB advertised for LTO-3) and drives hold more (1.5 terrabyte disks are readily available now), one failure can take out even more data than ever before. Make at least two copies, and keep one copy in a physically different location (off-site, if at all possible). We’ve always made duplicates even back in the day when we were using painfully slow Exabyte tape drives; now that data transfer rates are so fast, there is no good excuse to not make two copies of everything – unless, of course, you’re the type that laughs at danger. Trust me: You won’t be laughing for long…
By the way, if you go the hard drive route, consider dedicating a unique drive per project or client. That way, you can either charge them for it, or give them a specific end-of-life deadline (such as one year) at which point it may be erased. We sometimes do that with film and television show titles – film titles in particular are rarely revisited after release, and therefore may just be taking up space in your storage closet. On the other hand, corporate clients have a way of coming back from the dead (10 year retrospectives and the such).
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