Saturday, February 18, 2012

Mac mass storage for video archiving - options

I'm in the midst of a bit of project from heck - assembling and managing our home video recordings. This comes to about 40 hours of analog Hi8 and a comparable amount of 2007 DV technology plus an array of camera files from pretty crummy to modern dSLR HD. I estimate the total archival store will be about 1TB -- mostly using DV-25 files (MPEG-2 codec) and similar acquisition formats. (There are no archival video formats in 2012. More on that in a separate post.)

This is too much data to fit my current backup system - a redundant mixture of Time Capsule and Carbon Copy Cloner with offsite rotation. Once the archive is created I don't expect a rapid expansion rate, so the key backup feature is offsite coverage. I don't think this will be on the same rotation schedule as my current backups.

So I think I'm looking at a completely independent system - at least until we can buy $10TB of storage for under $200 (2016?).

I would like to spend less than $1200. I'd like a RAID-1 solution that would allow me to take a drive off-site, bring the off-site drive onsite, and rebuild the mirror. I'd prefer Thunderbolt though it sounds like Firewire 800 may be good enough for what I want to do. I do want it to be fairly quiet, though in fact it needn't run very often.

This is the list of options I'm coming up with:

I may also opt for basic Firewire 800 drives and do the cloning using CCC (will take a while!)

Any suggestions or comments are welcome ...


Anonymous said...

Look at the Synology 2 disk NAS products. Very nice.

Anonymous said...

Get one of these:

D-Link DNS-320 ShareCenter 2-Bay Network Storage Enclosure

And three bog-standard 2T discs for a bit over $100 each:

Buy each drive FROM A DIFFERENT MANUFACTURER (or at least a different model line from the same one).

One drive off-site. Two drives in RAID-1.

Total cost is less than $500. I have a DNS-320. It's not the fastest machine in the world, but it is quiet and cheap and low-heat, so it should last.

Even if this D-Link completely fails, the data will be on standard partitions in a standard (to Linux) ext2 or ext3 format (I forget which), which you can read with any PC or with a free Linux distro with VirtualBox or VMWare Fusion on your Mac.

-- Thomas

John Gordon said...

I assumed NAS wouldn't fully support FCPX or iMovie editing -- too slow? Not bad for archival use perhaps.

Thomas, I really like your suggestion on buying each drive from a different manufacturer. Again, I haven't heard of FCPX users working with NAS, but I'll check the forum again. For sure the price is right!

Anonymous said...

TL;DR version: The other Anon is right: buying a Synology NAS would be a fine choice.

The only potential gotcha about buying different drives is that some "2T" drives are _slightly_ larger or smaller than the rest. If you do this, you may want to start with the smallest disk in the box so that the partitions are sized to fit there and can be mirrored to the other, larger disks.

I was thinking you'd be using a NAS for backup and off-site storage. There are much faster NAS boxes than the DNS-320; it will only give you 10-15MB/s, even with RAID 0 over Gigabit Ethernet, because the box is CPU-bound.

If you get something with a faster CPU, then you should be able to get up to either wire speed (~100MB/sec) or at least single drive speed (~120-60MB/sec with a 7200 RPM disk, depending on whether or not you're near the spindle or the outside of the disk).

That said, a single DV stream is only about 1.2MB/sec so even this slow little box should be able to keep up with editing DV. I wouldn't try doing HD-resolution video with it, as many people using FCP or FCPX will be. That said, many professional video shops do use NAS rather that local storage. Totally uncompressed HD video is ~155MB/sec, so no single hard drive can keep up with this stream. Then again, nobody uses completely uncompressed video streams.

You might find this useful:

I've been tracking SmallNetBuilder for years and have found some really useful reviews and background papers there.

Given that the cost of (3) 2T drives is much larger than the NAS itself, you might want to step up from the DNS-320 to something like a DS211. See

-- Thomas

JGF said...

Thomas, you are generous! Thank you, I will study your post carefully.