Non Sequitur Fridays

Hard Drive Fever

This post is part of our Non Sequitur Fridays series, which will feature a different Wistia team member's take on a non-Wistia-related topic each week. It's like our "employee of the month" but less "of the month"-y. Chris Lavigne is video producer at Wistia.

Hi, I'm Chris. And I have a lot of hard drives.

I have an unhealthy obsession with storing every piece of my digital life. Videos, photos, documents, downloads, funny iChat screenshots, etc. The byproduct of that obsession is this.

Yup, those are my drives. And there's Lenny for scale.

But I swear, it's not my fault!

It's video's fault. Honest! As a video producer, I'm working with large file sizes just about every day. The raw footage that comes out of my Canon 5D is compressed to h.264, which keeps file sizes down a bit, but my Final Cut Pro projects... that's a different story. I transcode my material to ProRes 422 (LT), which bumps the file size by almost triple. Don't even get me started on how large RED footage is. In fact, that was one of the contributing factors to why I unloaded my RED Scarlet-X just months after I bought it!

The more footage I shoot, the more raw footage I need to store. The more FCP projects I need to keep. The more drives I need to buy. It's a vicious cycle... but I kind of love it. More on that later.

What good are drives without a backup plan?

My backup regiment consists of a mixture of Time Machine, Backblaze, and "A/B" drives. Let me explain.

I use Time Machine to back up everything on my laptop. I have a 12 TB Network Attached Storage device in my basement that automatically backs up my computer whenever I am hardwired to the internet. I exclude anything that may be volatile or that is backed up in another place (all system files outside of my home folder, transcoded media, raw footage, email).

I use a combination of Time Machine and Backblaze to back up my Mac Mini. I have a 6 TB RAID connected to my Mini that contains my managed Final Cut Pro projects, photos, iTunes library, and older archived documents. Although the initial backup is painfully slow, Backblaze is a great (and reasonably priced) option for unlimited backup.

I use A/B external hard drives to back up my raw footage. After a shoot, I'll take my SD cards and copy all of my files to 2 Western Digital 3TB external hard drives. I have an "A" drive and a duplicated "B" drive. When these drives fill up, I store the A drive at my house and take the B drive to my parents house (in case anything catastrophic were to happen here).

The race to a Petabyte

Transferring footage and watching files back up has become somewhat therapeutic to me. Knowing that my footage is going to a better, backed-up place makes me feel warm and fuzzy inside. And it’s pretty fun to watch my hard drive collection grow! In college, my good friend Chip and I had a race to a terabyte. He won. But now, it’s a race to a petabyte... and I’ll be damned if I lose this one.

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