Insight: Secure Your Digital Assets
With the new year comes an opportunity for us to make some changes and resolutions as they relate to some of our work habits. Without question, we must become even more efficient and productive in 2009. No resolution may be as important in this leaner economy as properly backing up important data on your computer. This, of course, also includes your laptop, those small pocket hard drives, Flash memory sticks, and camera cards. Burning your valuable files to CDs or creating data DVDs may offer an additional line of defense against data loss, but this solution alone is not without issues of physical damage. Most of us realize the importance of securing our electronic data; now the time has come to actually do it.
Data is King
Furthermore, actually recovering electronic data along with your image files following such a disaster may not only be expensive, but perhaps impossible. In my opinion, internal hard drives can be discussed most often in binary terms. They either “work fine,” or they “don’t work at all.” Your data is “safe,” or it’s “lost.” As creators, we’re in “good shape” with our stored data, or we’re “doomed.” There is really no middle ground here; our data is either “on” or sadly “eternally off.”
Proper risk management requires an analysis of the threats facing your digital assets. Most of us have years of miscellaneous Word documents, association reports, grant proposals, business plans, and spread sheets that sit “unsecured” on our main computers. Without question, some of our computer’s internal hard drives may be reaching their life expectancy, and these drives may fail anytime without warning. The cost of recreating these photos, medical illustrations, written proposals, and manuscripts would be enormous. It is vital to understand the importance and value of your digital assets and image library before a loss. Your business and livelihood depend on this data.
Suggested Hardware Solutions
If you should need even more capacity, a LaCie one-terabyte external drive (7200 RPM speed) costs less than $230.00 USD. Two-terabyte drives will cost a bit more at $349.99 USD. However, you may want to stick with two smaller external drives, as there is less risk of loss involved in using multiple smaller units instead of one larger one. This is like putting your money in more than one bank, or your eggs in more than one basket.
While at the local Indianapolis Costco Wholesale Warehouse recently, I saw a 500-gigabyte Western Digital “My Book Essential” external hard drive for $99.00 USD. With equipment costs this low, there is no better time to buy one of these boxes.
Do the Math
The cost of digital storage has gone down continually and dramatically over the years. As an example, in 1981 Apple Computer’s 5-megabyte hard drive replacement for the Lisa Computer sold for $3,500. That would have translated into $ 700 USD per megabyte (or a ridiculous $700,000 per gigabyte if that had even been available in 1981). This was an astronomical price by anyone’s standards, but it serves as a reference for comparing hard drive costs today.
At current 2009 prices, 500 gigabytes of storage for $99 USD (à la Costco) translates to a cost of $.20 (USD) per gigabyte. For comparison to the $700 per megabyte cost back in 1981, the current cost of 20 cents (USD) per gigabyte further reduces to a whopping $.0002 cents (USD) per megabyte. It is noteworthy that 28 years of hard drive innovation has reduced hard drive costs by a factor of 3,500,000.
If you would rather simply add or replace your internal hard drive, it is now possible to replace your original equipment 100 – 250 GB internal hard drive with Western Digital’s new 2 terabyte “Caviar Green” internal drive.
Your Digital Photo Files
So that brings us to a discussion of digital tape or Mini DV storage. As odd (and old) as this may sound, Mini-DV tape may still prove to be the best solution for archiving video. Backing up and archiving camera-original or edited video to digital tape is one of the most versatile and secure formats, when these tapes are properly labeled and stored.
A videographer friend of mine recently had his two-terabyte hard drive fail, and he lost a year’s worth of edited digital video. A data recovery service estimated that recovering the corrupted data on this two-terabyte drive could cost $1,995 to
It is noteworthy to mention that archiving to Mini DV digital tape is a “loss-less” transfer process, similar to writing and reading a file from a hard drive. As digital video data is moved from the original tape into your editing software (and back out to tape again), there is no quality degradation of the video data. Outputting your completed video files to Mini DV tape represents a safe and effective way to store a video project.
When you do archive digital video back onto Mini-DV digital tapes, be sure to overlap the edited video with a minute or two of redundancy from tape to tape. This will ensure easy and reliable re-edits of this digital footage. Keep and sequentially label the series appropriately for easy access on any new project.
What about DVDs for video backup? Burning edited programs to DVD’s may produce pretty nice looking video, and is great for your demo reels and your family video as well. However, the MPEG 2 compression used in the DVD authoring process compresses the video. So while the DVD video may look OK, bringing this video back into the editing bay will be a big disappointment. It won’t be near the visual quality of the original raw footage.
Solid State Drives
Flash Memory Sticks or Thumb Drives
As of this writing, Amazon.com is offering a 16 GB Kingston Data Traveler model DT100/16GB for $25.07 including free shipping. At only $1.57 USD per GB, the Data Traveler is a convenient and inexpensive way to carry around important documents and files. While this price is attractive, and the drive offers plug and play simplicity, these types of stick drives should not to be considered a safe, long term storage solution.
What’s a Gigabyte?
2009, The Journal of Biocommunication, All Rights Reserved
Table of Contents for VOLUME 35, NUMBER 1