How to not lose your video files: Redundancy

Most video these days is shot on some sort of digital recording device. Rarily is this digital video recorded to a tape any more. Most of the time it goes onto compact flash cards or internal hard drives. Given that hard drives tend to fail every so often, the job of the documentary science filmmaker is to keep track of those digital files. At first, it might seem like a daunting task, but it need not be so. The general rule of thumb is to make sure you have three copies of the files. This can take different forms, and many filmmakers swear to their own method. We’d like to share ours.

Untamed Science uses a single mirrored RAID drive (in it’s simplest form, a unit that has two drives in it, both with exactly the same material on it) and an external drive that we keep in a seperate location. In this case we’re backed up. If we accidentally loose one drive because of fire or flood, the other drive is intact. If up to two drives fail we have a third backup.

Many filmmakers will swear that four copies is the optimal amount for file redundancy. While this might seem like overkill, we often have a fouth backup that we burn to tape on very important shoots. Tapes tend to fail less often and will last longer than hard drives.

Written by Rob Nelson

Rob is an ecologist from the University of Hawaii. He is the co-creator and director of Untamed Science. His goal is to create videos and content that are entertaining, accurate, and educational. When he's not making science content, he races whitewater kayaks and works on Stone Age Man.

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