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Video Storage, NAS & Bittorrent Sync – Tips for Filmmakers

Introduction

One issue that we have experienced over the past year is the storage of DSLR Video Files, Premier Projects and After Effects Projects. The increased complexity of projects and the use of HD and 4K footage means that having a robust storage system and the potential to back up projects has become all the more important.

We originally used a series of external USB drives for archiving projects but the space required to store these and the fact they used a mains power supply meant they began to take up too much space. We also decided it was important to develop a system of backing up projects, both for archive purposes and for current projects in the event of a drive failure.

SATA Drive Bays

The first solution we found was the use of SATA Drive Bays. These simple caddies fit into a normal 3.5″ bay in the computer tower and allow the swapping of drives as required without the need of taking off computer case and physically swapping drives.

Our systems now has two such caddies fitted with two 2TB drives allowing completed projects to be moved from the working drives. Once the drives are full these can then be removed and stored away for archive purposes should the project be required again in the future.

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Moving Video Editing Projects between computers using SATA Drive Caddies

The added benefit of using SATA Drive Caddies is that it allows Premiere and After Effects projects to be moved between computers allowing different people to work on the same project. This can be particularly useful if one person is working on an offline edit whilst another is then involved in finalising the project with sound editing, colour grading or special effects.

This system worked well for a while but we increasingly found ourselves switching back and forth between computers and the time taken to do this led to the need for a more versatile solution. We were also interested in incorporating a NAS (Network Storage System) allowing backups to be made on active projects in the event of a drive failure.

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Bittorent Sync

We discovered a piece of software called Bittorent Sync which improved our ability to work on projects on different computers.

This software allows the synchronising of folders via LAN connections between computers, in much the same way as Dropbox, but without the files size limitations or via an online server.

Our computers are set up identically, with three 2TB drives in each, labelled Project 1, 2 & 3, with folders in each labelled the same. By sharing these folders between computers the contents of each are automatically synchronised between computers without the requirement of copying files or manually swapping drives. The system also ensures that should a drive failure occur a mirror exists on another computer.

This revised setup allows us to work on the same project, make changes, and for those changes to be automatically synchronised onto the other computers. We’ve also attached a redundant computer via LAN to act as a third backup, ensuring that our project and video files are secure.

It’s worth mentioning that this system does not necessarily account for files being deleted since the deletion of a files will also be copied across onto connected computers. However, Bittorrent Sync does incorporate the facility to retrieve recently deleted files so in the short term files can be replaced.

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Conclusion

The combination of SATA Drive Caddies and Bittorent Sync has helped to increase our productivity and ensure we maintain a real-time backup of projects in the event of a drive failure.

For more tips and techniques like this visit our Video Production Blog or follow us on our Social Media Channels:

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