Choosing the right hard drive or RAID system is one of the most important decisions video editors can make. Here are some options that work in most video editing scenarios.
Video editors are all about speed. We want the fastest computers, the best graphics cards, the most RAM, etc.But in terms of storage — which is arguably one of the biggest speed factors in the publishing world — things are often overlooked.
Obviously, there are a number of factors that determine how fast your storage system needs to be. The codec / resolution of your footage, the type of work you do (editing vs. visual effects), the sharing requirements, and all sorts of other variables all play a role in choosing the right system. Although this may seem confusing at first, almost all post-production projects or environments require one of three configurations:
If you’re a single publisher working alone on a reasonable project, SSDs might be the way to go. A high-end SSD gives you up to 500 MB/s of performance (or more), which is several times better than your typical 3.5″ 7200 rpm drive. Not to mention their small footprint, they are ideal for travel, work OR archiving.
That is, SSDs are quite expensive and do not provide large capacity. Even to this day, it is rare to find an SSD that has a capacity of more than 1 TB, which means that if you want to go down this path, you will have to work with a decent amount of sequences. RAW portfolio from a RED or ALEXA may require a different solution. However, if you are in the market for an SSD, there are many options out there.
2. RAID systems
If storage capacity is a problem for you, SSDs are probably not the solution. A much better option is a Direct attached RAID, which is a system of two or more hard drives that work in tandem to give you extremely fast read /write speeds that exceed the performance of an SSD.
RAIDS can be configured in several ways, including a RAID 0 configuration that gives you by far the best performance, especially when using many drives. The more disks you have configured on your RAID, the faster the performance will be. In other words, a RAID with only two drives will not work as fast as a RAID with six drives. However, the downside to this is that with a RAID 0 system, if a single hard drive fails, all of your data will be lost – and you’re more likely to do so if you have lots of drives in tandem.
Again, there are plenty of options to suit your needs — remember that when using a RAID 0 configuration, you always back up your project portfolio to a separate drive to be safe and never archive your hardware.
3. SAN Network
If you need the speed of a RAID 0 array, but also need to be able to share content on disks with multiple users, you probably want to use a SAN.
A SAN works essentially the same way as a fast RAID system, but it will be accessible over a network, allowing multiple users to work simultaneously. For each individual user, the SAN will appear as a local drive on their computer, but it will actually be shared by the rest of the team.
As you can imagine, a SAN can offer some of the most impressive speeds on the market (more than 1000 MB/s), although using a SAN comes with its share of challenges – the cost is one of them. Which inevitably makes it suitable for the most professional environments. Not to mention, setting up a SAN also means that you need to install special software and hardware on your local machines to get it up and running