How To Safeguard Your Digital Video

Hi, have you ever lost a vast amount of video footage? I know I have and the experience is not a good one! I remember taping a wedding for a friend of mine and lost almost half the footage because my hard drive failed during post production.

Ever since, I've learnt that it is critically important to safeguard all your digital creations - be it photos, videos, audio. Video files are especially large and can be easily damaged if you store it on media that is unreliable.

Here are some tips to safeguard your digital videos so you can sleep easy at night :)

1. Storage Requirements

The first thing you should do is to understand the different storage requirements for digital video. Remember, video goes from your camcorder to your PC and then possibly online or onto a DVD or Blu-Ray disc. Given this workflow, the storage requirements for video would be:

  • Internal Storage - storing your video within the computer, in hard disk or solid-state disk
  • External Storage - storing your video outside of the computer, usually in your portable hard drive, memory card, DVD or Blu-ray disc
  • Online Storage - storing your video online

Analyze your needs in each of these categories, then decide how much storage you need, along with the budget you're willing to spend.

We'll look at each of these storage options in turn:

2. Internal Storage

First up, let's look at internal storage. This is the most common form of video storage and is very secure. Computers have two types of internal storage these days:

Hard disk drives. These are conventional storage in computers and these days, come in sizes of 1 TB or more. Given that a full-length movies is about 4 GB (in DVD quality), you can store up to thousands of movies on a 1 TB drive. The problem with hard disk drives drives is their reliability.

Although hard disks have come a long way in terms of quality assurance, my heart still skips a beat whenever I hear a whirring sound from my disk. A hard disk is made up of moving mechanical parts and can be prone to failure (e.g. bad sectors).

Solid-state drives. The other type of internal storage that's taking computer enthusiasts by storm are solid-state drives. These are typically much smaller in size compared to conventional hard disks, but they are much, much faster. They rely on solid-state memory (i.e. the same type as your iPhone, iPod) to store data.

Solid-state drives tend to run cooler, quieter and also require less power. A 64 GB solid-state drive can't store much video and will set you back a couple of hundred dollars. But it IS much faster. I recommend that you use solid-state storage if you're doing post-production as it is much faster for programs like Adobe Premiere to read off solid-state storage. However, for long term storage, go with a conventional hard disk.

3. External Storage

Ok, on to external storage. To safeguard your video on external storage means that you keep your files on a portable hard drive, memory card, DVD or Blu-ray disc. This data resides outside of your computer.

I own a couple of portable hard drives and these are typically quite cheap - they can be under a hundred bucks for a 1 TB drive. You tend to use these for temporary storage, i.e. to copy video files from one laptop to another.

You also storage video on memory cards, e.g. 64 GB cards that can be slotted into your camcorder. You absolutely need to invest in one big memory card if you're a serious videographer. During video shoots, you really don't want to run out of storage space in the card.

Finally, DVD and Blu-ray discs are also a convenient storage option. I'd recommend using DVD and Blu-ray for long term storage, and they are especially useful if you want to "crystallize" or share a couple of video copies of your trip to Paris with Grandpa and Grandma.

4. Online Storage

The final type of storage for safeguarding video is online storage. This option is becoming immensely popular. First, there's YouTube which is the store house of almost all of the world's online video.

You also have online applications like Dropbox and Microsoft SkyDrive which allow you to keep video files in the "cloud". I personally use Dropbox - it's neat and simple to use. I upload a video file into Dropbox simply by dragging it into a Dropbox folder on my PC. I'm thinking of upgrading to a more premium version to get more storage.

Online storage is definitely up and coming and something you should explore if you've no concern on data privacy. For corporations, data privacy can be a concern. If I'm Universal Studios, for example, I'd be reluctant to store my new, unreleased movie onto an online solution. But for home users, online storage is convenient and fast. It can be slow to transfer files though, so you do need to have a good broadband connection for online video.

Wrapping Up ...

I hope the above has helped you understand how you can better safeguard your digital video. Digital video as a medium is great because you can do non-linear video editing and store it on a variety of places - internal, external and online storage. However, you do need to be careful to back things up properly.

Understanding your various storage options will help you in deciding a good video editing workflow. For me, I store video on a memory card during shoots, then move them into my computer's solid-state drive for fast post production work.

Next, I may move them to online storage to share the video, or copy them in to a DVD or Blu-ray disc. For long term storage, I also archive my video files from the solid-state drive into a conventional hard drive. Every month, I do a full backup of my important video files too.

That's all I have for now .. until next time, have fun editing your videos!

Edit Digital Videos With Ease

If you've been looking for a good video editing program, you may want to check out Corel VideoStudio ProThis software allows you to quickly create and share a movie using built-in templates, special effects, titles and transitions. You can apply unique effects such as stop-motion animation, time-lapse and chroma key to create brilliant digital videos.