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Filmmaking Amateur | Best Way to Store Digital Video Files

by Scott U
(Georgia, USA)

Lately, I've been trying to figure out the best way to store digital video files. My iMac has a terabyte of storage space and I've pretty much used that up. I have a G-Force external hard drive that holds a terabyte and it crashed. Luckily, I was able to recover the files and the drive is still under warranty so you don't have to feel sorry for me. I also have some other external hard drives that are filling up fast.


What to do with all the photos and videos I shoot?

All of my photos are stored on hard drives and online. I like storing photos online. If everything crashes, I still have my photos. But video is different. It isn't as easy to store hours of b-roll online. Sure, you can upload it (hours of uploading) only to download it again when you need it (hours of downloading). It's just not as easy storing video. So, it seems the best option is to buy more storage space. It's a vicious and costly game but losing old footage is not acceptable. You never know when you are going to need it again.

Case in point; I was recently asked to create a short video for Cafe Campesino, a local fair trade coffee roastery in my hometown. (Get their coffee, it's great!) I had traveled to Colombia with Cafe Campesino last year to document the local farmers and their local co-op of coffee growers. After going on this trip, I know all to well how important it is to buy fair trade products whenever you can. Corporations do not understand "fair" they understand profit. Buy local and buy fair trade, but I digress.

Luckily for me, I had all of the digital footage I shot (Flip HD) in Colombia on my external hard drive. It was a snap to bring the footage into iMovie and produce a new video. In the old days of video tape I would have to have a closet set aside just to store all the tapes. Digital is great. All my footage sits on my desk in attractive casings ready to be edited at a moment's notice.

The downside is that I risk losing my footage if my hard drives crash which means I need DOUBLE the hard drive space for backing up all my footage.

I can see the writing on the wall. The more footage I shoot, the more this is going to become a major issue.

Anyone out there have a good system for storing digital video files?

Any suggestions for storing digital video online?

Comments appreciated below.

Comments for Filmmaking Amateur | Best Way to Store Digital Video Files

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Aug 14, 2012
Storing Video footage
by: Steve

helloooooo!!!------I have the same dilemma but not on the same level as you! My system is up to capacity and I am now having to think about taking all video off to free it up. I shoot a lot of short videos and them string them together to make a video tour or diary. I used to download from my camera and then delete from the SD card but now I don't do that and I keep the video on the card until it is full. I have only just started doing this and I am not sure if it is the best thing but it is a solution and I can easily access what I need when I need it ---- how safe this is I havn't figured out yet! Longer videos are going to be a pain to have to keep downloading but what other solution is there at the moment. I know good quality SD cards are not cheap and I am wondering if I should limit the size of the card so if i do lose anything it wont be too much. I am new at this and am still finding my way around but it is great fun and I thank god for the day i bought a mac!!!!--thanks for your article and i will be interested to see what comes up by way of manageable and cost effective solutions ---good luck---Steve

Aug 23, 2012
Storing Video on Hard Drives
by: Anonymous

Hey Steve. If I read right, it sounds like you are storing your video files on your SD cards (the cards that go in your camera).If this is right, then I would advise that you store the video files on your computer's hard drive. (But we know that video eats up storage space. Eventually, this approach will lead you to my dilemma; How do I store my video footage off of my computer?) An easy way to store your video files is with an external hard drive. But even those begin to run out of space (and they can crash! which happened to me.) The best approach is to have redundancies built in - meaning that you store your footage in two places. But this costs money just to keep up with storage. I've been storing my photography online for years. I have what I have on my computers and some hard drives, but any photo that has meaning or has any potential to be "used" is stored online. This costs me about $100 a year. The web is eventually going to get to the point where you can store video online as well as photos. But, we're not there in mass yet.

After some thought on my dilemma, I've decided to continue buying external hard drives to store my video. I use Lacey hard drives. They are very portable and I have never had any issues with them. My wife uses G-Force hard drives. But we did have one of them crash on us. We were able to recover everything, but it cost us to get it back. - Scott

Jan 09, 2016
Video Storage
by: Anonymous

I have pondered the same issue; "storage of videos." I had a 500 GB hard drive with a 750 GB external. I started burning my files on to DVD's. While I do realize that they are small for storage, they also do not crash. The upside: You can re-download quickly to your PC.

About three months ago, my PC hard drive crashed. The strange thing was that I got warnings signs that is was going. I backed up all of my "valuables" on to the external drive and filled it. I replaced my "baby" hard drive with a 2 TB drive. Lots of storage now, but I will still use the DVD's; 75 discs and counting.

My only suggestion would be to make some sort of spreadsheet to catalog what you have on each disc.

Jan 25, 2016
"Simple" is Gone!
by: Anonymous

Used to be easy to take, play and store my home movies, starting back in mid 1980's. Pop in a VHS tape, take 2 hours of video, then pop it in a VCR and bingo, your were watching your creation! When finished, place tape in sleeve and put in a cool, dry place. I know, it wasn't HD, and it took up cabinet space but knowing and experiencing the digital hassle I have currently, I'm about ready to chunk the complicated and go looking for my over-the-shoulder camera stored some place. Know what you are thinking and you are correct: I'm over 70!

Feb 17, 2016
Getting more complicated
by: Peter B

Oh I know all about what you are saying. I'm in the middle of sorting 42.000 family photos and videos. My god, what a pain. For photos my nr1 advice that I have now learned is to be mega-critical about what you actually keep and what goes from the card to the external drive and online backup. I also immediately changed the setting from 24MP to 6MP as if I'm ever going to print billboards with my family photos.

For video pffff that is a challenge indeed! Obviously I found your article because I'm still looking for advice like you are... I have had crashed harddisks, corrupt usb-sticks but also DVD's after 10 years can very well become unreadable.

My preferred and advised storage method for photos is external backup on two mirrored harddisks (you can buy that in one product). And a copy online on Onedrive, google photo, dropbox or whatever (I use Onedrive). I then update the external drivesystem every 5 years to a newer (bigger) model.

For video this is not really ideal and it seems an external system is the best I can do since uploading takes to long for video. Then if upload speeds and megafast glassfiber internet is at a normal price I can use the same strategy for video.

Hope it helps anyone.

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