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The Best Way To Backup Your Videos

I
would like to share with you my backup plan.  It has changed a lot over
the past five years but now I believe I can tell you I have the best
way to backup video.  This article in no way only applies to video
though, and if you are a professional photographer or musician or really
anyone that deals with large files that they want to keep safe, you
should be able to find something here to help you. Before I go any
further please read this disclaimer: There is no perfect foolproof
way to backup your files.  There is always a risk.  Your best option is
to backup to as many locations as possible and hope they aren’t all
destroyed at the same time.   The good news is that if you have enough
backups in enough places then nothing short of a massive natural
disaster or the end of time will harm your files.
I use a
three-pronged approach to ensure my data stays backed up – RAID,
physical discs, and online.  Let’s go through each of them in order.

:: RAID ::
RAID stands for Redundant Array of Independent
Discs – in my case, four separate hard drives in one external enclosure.
 Each hard drive contains a copy of the other hard drives data, meaning
that if one of the hard drives fails there is no data loss. 
After
filming a wedding the first thing I do when I get home is copy
everything off the memory cards onto three separate locations on my
computer.  These include, a 1 terabyte Western Digital Caviar Black hard drive, a Drobo, and a G-Technology G-Speed Q
by Hitachi.  In the event that i have a hard drive failure I can rest
assured that my audio and video files are safe on one of the other RAID
hard drives.  The following is a breakdown of the two RAID devices that I
use for backup.
Data Robotics DROBO Data Robotics DROBO was the first RAID system that I ever purchased.  I picked mine up at B&H (Amazon Link) and installed two Western Digital Green 2TB (Amazon Link)
drives inside, taking up two of the four slots.  As far as keeping
things simple is concerned, DROBO wins.  You can tell that Data Robotics
worked hard to make sure that the DROBO is user friendly both in its
interface and colorful lights.  By keeping all the technology in the
background you can simply buy one of these, insert up to four hard
drives of any manufacturer and size, and be ready to copy files.  The
simplicity of the DROBO is also its downfall though, in that, with my
base model at least, you are only allowed USB 2.0 or Firewire and both
are rather slow when it comes to copying and reading.  If you’re
expecting an RAID that you will be able to pull HD files from while
editing you should look at G-Technology
instead.  Another negative of the DROBO is that there is always the
chance of the actual hardware enclosure (not the drives) breaking
leading to potential data loss, which is what almost happened to me.
 Keep in mind, Data Robotics uses a custom RAID software technology that
they call “Beyond Raid” which compresses your files and gives you a bit
more space.  This software is all handled by a Linux based controller
houses in the enclosure itself.  When I bought my DROBO I set it to the
maximum volume size of 16TB which allows for easy expansion in the
future.  Last year, when I bought an extra two hard drives to put inside
(same brand and model: Western Digital Green),
I was preparing to install them and copying a large amount of files to
and from the DROBO.  When I say large I mean I had initiated
approximately 10 file transfers varying in size from 100MB to 10GB.
 Somewhere along the way the DROBO froze up and I had to power it off.
 When I restarted it, the DROBO would take approximately 20 minutes to
be recognized by my computer.  It also began reporting that one of my
hard drives was bad.  I managed to copy my files off the DROBO using
several data recovery apps and completely wiped the device.  This time I
set the DROBO so it was made up of three 2TB partitions instead of one
16TB partition.  Now, Windows 7 recognizes it when starting up and
everything works fine.  After I had the DROBO fail, I realized I needed a
more stable and professional backup solution that would act as another
level in my backup plan.  It’s not that I would stop using the DROBO,
just that I wanted another level of protection.  That’s where
G-Technology helped out.
G-Technology G-Speed Q The G-Technology G-Speed Q (Amazon Link) is
one of the nicest external RAID enclosures you can buy that offers USB
2.0, Firewire, and a super fast E-Sata connection that guarantees fast
data transfer.  G-Technology
is Hitachi’s video editing line of external hard drives and enclosures
that exist to keep professionals data safe and secure.  Vincent Laforet
uses one of these.  I bought an 8TB model at B&H
and it has worked flawlessly.  All of my video files are currently
stored on it.  I feel much better knowing my data is stored on two
external RAID systems.  By using the E-Sata connection I can actually
edit videos directly from the G-Speed Q if I so desire.  I highly
recommend this RAID.

:: Physical Discs ::
Having used many different brands of discs while owning a computer I now only use Verbatim DVDs (Amazon Link) and (usually) Digistor Blu Ray Discs,
preferably made in Singapore.  Why Verbatim/Digistor, and why Singapore
you ask?  I choose Verbatim DVD+R discs because they have nearly 800
five-egg ratings on Newegg and I have had very few problems with them.
 When it comes to DVDs there are very few manufacturers of them and most
brands just buy them from the same manufacturer and put their name on
them.  This is why the location of where the discs are made is so
important. (Note: the following statements are just my personal
experiences)  Singapore is a good sign that the discs will be good while
other countries such as the United Arab Emirates is more likely to be
bad.  Taiwan is also usually good. Since I backup so much HD video it is
really more economically feasible to use Blu Ray Discs for backup.
 I’ve used Digistor Blu Ray Discs with no problems and have also used
Verbatim.  I always burn my backups using the free software Imgburn and
making sure it verifies the disc for integrity.  After burning I keep
all my discs in a secure dark sealed DVD case to preserve disc life.

:: Online Backups ::
Over the past three years I have used Mozy, Carbonite, Backblaze, and Crashplan.  Here is my story of online backups and why Crashplan is my favorite by far.

MozyHome Initially I was with MozyHome
after using their initial 2GB free backup plan.  After spending $60 for
a year of unlimited backup service from Mozy and dealing with the
service sometimes not backing up my files, I was ready to find an
alternative.  One month after cancelling my Mozy subscription the
company announced that they were moving to a tiered service where you
choose paying either $6 per month for 50GB of backup or $10 for 125GB,
with each additional 20GB costing an extra $2 per month.  Considering I
have approximately 4.7 terabytes of video that must be backed up, Mozy
was no longer feasible.  If you are storing video or anything with large
file sizes, there are many other options for backups.
Carbonite
Realizing I was still needing a good backup service and having done
research on Mozy’s competitors before signing up for Mozy, I had heard a
good deal about Carbonite and
the company sounded promising.  I signed up for Carbonite’s Home
service for $60 per year (the only option available at the time) and
after trying in vain to select one of my external hard drives, I
concluded that Carbonite did NOT offer backups of external hard drives
with the subscription.  I read about other people being fooled into
buying their services thinking they would backup external drives as
well.  Since then, upon visiting Carbonite’s pricing page they clearly
state that for $99 per year you can backup unlimited data on internal
and external hard drives with them.  This is nice, but I cancelled
Carbonite within two days of signing up and was already looking for
another option. (And I found one that is cheaper).

Backblaze
Backblaze was the next online backup company that I tried and I was
impressed with the company’s minimalistic approach to backups.  They
really do call themselves the easiest online backup service and that is
true.  With Backblaze
you pay $5 a month and unlike other backup clients with this one you
select what you DON’T want to have backed up.  Otherwise the program
will simply backup everything on your computer (and your external hard
drives!).  This is great but I ran into several difficulties with the
program that if you also backup critical video files you might run into
also.  First, Backblaze does not let you set a priority for files that
you want backed up.  When working with video on a project-by-project
basis I generally prefer to be able to choose to backup my latest
projects first.  That way in the event of a catastrophic data loss I
would still have my latest project that I was working on backed up
online. Restoring the backups would be as simple as re-downloading the
files and getting back to work.  If Backblaze offered a way to
prioritize your files that would be great, but it might go against the
company’s “easiest online backup” motto, where you just setup the
program and let it run.  My second fear with Backblaze was that the
company recently mentioned on its blog how it was nearly sold to another
company.  I would prefer to not have my backup company bought out by
another and have them either delete my data or start charging me for the
amount that I backup.  All of this lead me to cancel my Backblaze
service and find the best option available today.


Crashplan
Crashplan by Code42 software is the most robust and complete online
backup service that I have ever used.  I’m currently enrolled with the Crashplan+ Family Unlimited plan
which means that I can backup unlimited data from up to 10 computers
for around $120 per year.  This means that I am not only backing up my
4.7 terabytes of video on my desktop, I’m also backing up my laptop’s
data, my parent’s 650GB of photos, my brother’s school papers, and my
Nana’s 250GB photos.  I simply installed the client on my family’s
computers, told it which folders to backup, and let it do its thing.
 The other nice thing is that while some online backup companies only
hold onto your data as long as they can check to make sure its on your
hard drives, Crashplan holds onto your data until you tell them to
delete it.  This means that my video projects from three years ago will
still be available for me to download if I need them.  Crashplan backs
up all the video files that I tell it to in the order that they were
modified meaning that my latest projects are always backed up first.  I
also feel secure about backing up so much data because the CEO of
Crashplan himself stated that his company will hold all the data you
throw at them.  Another service that Crashplan offers that I have yet to
use is Backup Seeding.  For $125, Crashplan will send you a 1TB hard
drive that you can fill with your data and send back to them that will
be added to your account.
In summary:  Buy a G-Technology G-Speed Q for RAID backups, use Verbatim and Digistor for physical discs backup, and use Crashplan for online backups.

If this article helped you with your backups, please consider
using one of the above links when you buy your backup equipment and
services.  It costs you nothing, and helps me keep my site running. I
have bought from all of these websites and I highly recommend them for
their service, quality, and shipping speed.  I recommend them all personally.

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