Test, QC & Monitoring Global Viewpoint – September 2018

Storage for Desktop Video Editing Systems

For advanced desktop video editors, simple plug-and-play direct attached storage drives (DAS) may not be adequate. For many such sophisticated small scale editing systems, an upgrade to multi-drive enclosures is more adequate. Here are some options.

The benefits of multi-drive setups for video editing include added storage capacity, improved drive management, data protections and, in many cases, improved read/write speeds. Many stores sells drives to video editors and offers some recommendations for smaller scale editing systems.

Drobo 5D3 5-Bay TB-3. Click to enlarge.

Drobo 5D3 5-Bay TB-3. Click to enlarge.

For building a personal drive system, a diskless DAS such as the Drobo 5C with a USB Type-C connection is a good place to start. It offers five bays for 3.5-inch SATA drives and BeyondRAID for single- and dual-drive redundancy options.

In case one or two drives fail, the user is protected. A built-in battery minimizes data loss during power outages and other features keep video footage safe. For maximum speed, however, check out the Drobo 5D3 with Thunderbolt 3. It offers many of the same features plus the advantages of Thunderbolt 3 with power delivery and daisy-chaining.

Akitio Thunder3 QuadX. Click to enlarge.

Akitio Thunder3 QuadX. Click to enlarge.

An alternative to the Drobo storage units could be the Akitio Thunder3 Quad X RAID Array Enclosure, which supports four drives in a RAID 0 configuration. RAID 0 means that all the drives are being read/written to simultaneously, providing transfer speeds far greater than what a single drive can achieve — in this case up to 1480 MB/s with speedy SSDs.

This speed will be critical for editors doing real-time video editing with 4K+ footage. Recommended hard drives for this setup also include Seagate’s BarraCuda Pro and IronWolf Pro lines, both of which offer two years of data recovery for added protection.

For users not wanting to build their own array, there are pre-made units available, like LaCie’s 2TB to 16TB RAID arrays. Thunderbolt 3 and USB Type-C are available to support the latest systems and, depending on the unit, they support different RAID options so users can choose speed, protection or a balance of the two.

Working in editing environments with multiple users introduces a new set of storage problems to consider. The simplest of these has to do with giving everyone access to all the files they need, which is where Network Attached Storage (NAS) comes in.

The simplest explanation of these devices is that they are connected to the network via Ethernet and then can be accessed by multiple computers across a local network. Beyond this, they function in a somewhat similar manner to DAS drives. They hold multiple standard hard drives, can be configured in RAID and have built-in backup and processing options.

Where they get separated is that NAS setups are tuned to serve files over a network (meaning in some cases they can be accessed remotely via the Internet), can be more power efficient and generally have their own management software to control permissions and other network options.

Synology DiskStation DS1817+ 8-Bay NAS

Synology DiskStation DS1817+ 8-Bay NAS

With this type of system consider starting with Synology’s DiskStation NAS Enclosure series, offering the two-bay DS218+, four-bay DS918+, six-bay DS1618+ and the massive eight-bay DS1817+. Many RAID options are available for each model and mobile apps allow remote support. They have the ability to set up as many as 2,048 users and integrated processing helps get everything set up and running smoothly.

Gigabit Ethernet connections aid fast transfers, as well, while larger units can accept expansion cards to improve overall performance with ease. This makes it a solid pick for working with many files with a need to backup and access various libraries. Seagate IronWolf and IronWolf Pro hard drives are recommended here because these series, in combination with Synology NAS, offer support for IronWolf Health Management (IHM) to ensure all the drives are functioning properly.

Thanks to IHM, which operates in popular NAS operating systems, users can prevent external disturbances from affecting the NAS or drive health, proactively intervene and back up data when the system notifies and access available rescue and recovery services, should a catastrophic event occur.

NAS is good for users who want to keep everything accessible, secured and backed up. However, an upgrade will be needed if faster speeds are needed from the network. Going to a 10GbE network is not a small task, but the added speed advantages are well worth it. Also, for those desiring more expansion options, look at drives with multiple inputs, such as Thunderbolt 3 connections. These will allow other drives to hooked up in NAS arrays.

For a couple of highly capable NAS options that will support real-time video editing in ultra-high resolutions, look at QNAP and the four-bay TS-453BT3 or the 12-bay TVS-1282T3. Both offer 10GbE connections, along with Thunderbolt 3 and HDMI, for use as a video server.

They have built-in encryption to keep data safe while being optimized for tiered storage, application-based partitioning and network traffic distribution. Also, for maximum speed, connect the array directly to the computer via Thunderbolt 3 and access files that way, if needed.

As video systems grow, matching the best storage options can be a daunting task. If the technology goes over the system owners head, it is best to get design help in advance.

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