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The Difference between Data Backups and Archives for Film and Video Production

We have found that the one thing many business owners and filmmakers confuse is the concept of backups vs. archives; put succinctly, backups are designed to protect against short-term data loss from either hardware, software or human error and are typically found on hard drives, cloud storage and flash or optical media. Good archives, to the contrary, are designed to last for many years as a long-term storage solution.

To drive home our point: Backups refer to short-to-medium-term redundancy designed to protect against hardware failure such as complete primary storage breakdown or single-disk failure in addition to human error such as accidentally deleting files. Backups are typically designed for daily, weekly, monthly and/or yearly – up to a couple of years – use, while archives are different in that they’re designed for long-term storage (hence the name). A true archive is something that can last a decade, and is often more preferable; however, the best archive method to date – if you take into consideration cost, longevity and ease-of-use – is LTO tape archive, which is exactly what is used at almost every media/entertainment house. We know that this seems a bit dry and all borders on “somewhat boring”…but we must tell you that as a business owner, it’s important to understand the differences at play here. It is also important that the media and marketing agency you work with boast the proper media management workflows and tools for your precious data protection and security.

Getting into the Details about Archives for Film & Video Production

Knowledgeable media/marketing firms have been offering LTO tape backup and archive services for a myriad of reasons, namely in the area of video production, media and data rich applications. By taking advantage of LTO tape backup, you reap the benefits of 50-year archival medium used by major film and media productions as well as large corporations to store your data. This is not only a safer method compared to hard disks, flash media and optical storage, it avoids the high cost of ownership with regard to LTO tape backup drives while still providing the benefits of long-term storage requirements. When the subject of “optical” or “recordable media” comes up, you often hear people mention such terms as “shelf life” or “ruggedness” of the physical media (which is, in the case of optical disc, an actual DISC). When it comes to shelf life of an LTO tape, we can tell you that it’s one of the best archival choices available today mainly because of its shelf life of 30 to 50 years…coupled with a relatively low cost of ownership.

  • Hard drives last one to five years
  • DVD's last three to seven years
  • Flash drives last five to eight years
  • LTO lasts 30 to 50 years

With the current generation of LTO Ultrium, LTO-7 able to hold 6TB native and 15TB Compressed on a single cartridge.  In the world of video and film production – something we know a little about – digital tape storage has become a viable and cost-effective alternative to hard drives for the long-term storage of video productions and other digital content…at least where hundreds of terabytes are concerned. The technology is stable, long-standing and doesn’t require any significant learning curve to understand or use – a win-win for business owners and film producers alike.

With hard drives becoming more expensive to purchase courtesy of the “pleasure” of having to buy more and more of them – to say nothing of their maintenance against hazards – the choice of going with digital tape or LTO has surfaced as a means for archiving video for storage, be it short or long-term. Taking all this into consideration, it’s no surprise LTO is in heavy rotation for data archiving and storage due to the inherent strengths and low cost…but it’s also being used by those producing video because the cost allows for just about anyone to create a competent backup and archiving system for their video. With improvements to the technology including LTFS – also known as “Tape NAS” which describes a hybrid fusion of the best features of LTO and the direct access search capabilities of hard drives.

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