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Too Much Data!

In a world where tape is disappearing, how do I inexpensively backup all my data shoots?

By Art Adams | September 05, 2008

I'm going into a RED shoot this weekend and I've realized my hard drives are full. Now what?

Also, while I have several portable bus-powered drives that are small, solidly-made and easy to bring on set, they all have Firewire 400 connectors--and that's turning out to be way too slow for both P2 and RED work.

A producer I work with, Luke Seerveld, picked up an interesting method of backing up footage from editor Chris Fenwick: he uses a Wiebetech ComboDock.

Rather than buying expensive external drives or a tape backup system, he buys cheap internal hard drives at Fry's Electronics for $80 a pop and uses them to archive raw P2 or Firestore footage. The ComboDock attaches directly to the drive with an IDE ribbon and power cable and connects to a computer using Firewire 800. When done copying, Wiebetech sells inexpensive ($5) drive enclosures for storing the drive in a safe place.

This may not be the most reliable form of backup in the world, but when I can't get into a reputable and reliable tape backup drive for less than around $3000 this method looks pretty darned good. It might also be a handy way to store and transport data from the set to post (if the drives are handled VERY carefully, as they should be anyway) because the high data transfer speed makes a huge difference in the amount of time I have to sit around after wrap waiting for data to copy.

I'll keep my inexpensive Firelight portable drives for quite a while longer as they are a great way to get copies of final projects: I mail them to the editor with an SASE and the editor mails them back at their leisure. But I see very few portable inexpensive drives with Firewire 800 capability, and for medium-term backup internal hard drives are so cheap they might as well become part of my backup system--which is, at the moment, entirely hard drive based anyway.

I've ordered the Wiebetech UltraDock v4 along with a couple of storage enclosures for my next project, to be shot on the RED this weekend. I need to clear some space on my RAID in order to tweak footage and this seems to be a very quick and inexpensive solution. I'll report further when it arrives.

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RC Fisher: | September, 06, 2008

I use the Weibe tech combo dock for my IDE drives and now buy only SATA drives. For those I have a slide in SATA drive bay, no tray just slide the drive in and latch. I plan on buying one for my 3.5” drive case which has FW800/400, eSATA, USB2.0 interfaces. I got the quad interface drive case at Max Digital now if I could find a dual bay quad interface drive case I could put the trays in that would work really well. I also use those Wiebe tech boxes for the drives, Just Awesome! Now all of my drives are organized and protected.

Robert C. Fisher

abu nusaybah: | September, 17, 2008

Hello there,

Firstly, I’d like to say that I do really appreciate your contribution to the art of digital filmmaking. Thanks you for all the info that you keep feeding us.

Just to add something to the current headache that we all face in backing up our footage, here’s a link to a recent Larry Jordan’ article on hard drive back up.

Please comment.

Neil Sadwelkar: | September, 27, 2008

I’ve used this kind of dock too (Not wiebetech’s but some other noname). But even if convenient, it goes get cumbersome making and taking out all those connections especially if one is ‘browsing’ many drives to find a folder.

On a trip to London two weeks back, I bought a HDD docking station like the one here…

There’s even one with Firewire and eSATA, but mine is just USB. At Maplin it cost me pounds 30 so its affordable.

And a great way to ‘browse; hard disks like they were floppies or CDs. I plan to drive the drive sleeves as well.

Neil Sadwelkar.

RC Fisher: | September, 27, 2008

My issue with those types of drive bay thinggys is that it’s way too easy to remove a drive without unmounting it. My drive bay minus the tray is theres a light letting you know the drive is still on so you, Me, make sure it’s unmounted then pop open the door and pull out the drive. I totally cleaned up my big pile of drive trays and stuff now I put the drives away in the cute littl wiebtech boxes after I’m done with them. I can fit a ton of them on a tiny shelf I have in my storage closet. I used up all 10 of the boxes I bought and now I need more!

robert C. Fisher

Neil Sadwelkar: | September, 28, 2008

No no that cannot happen.

If you see the pictures of the dock I sent you see that the drive sits vertically on its own weight. And there’s a lock and a release button so it won’t come off on its own.

There’s also a blue LED showing the drive is connected, and a red access LED. And there’s a power switch so you can safely power off and on when swapping drives.

Its really more convenient than a connecting type of dock. I have both. But of course, the one I mention only works with SATA.

Michael Morlan: | March, 21, 2009

I prefer to use a single external enclosure with my choice of connections (eSATA, FW800/400. USB2.0) so I can physically mount my bare drive with the adapter electronics.  The weibetech solution feels like a disaster waiting to happen.  It belongs on someone’s desk at home, not on set.

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