I used to have a huge problem.
For the past few years, I’d been hard at work filming my crowdfunded documentary, The World Among Us. And over the time I was filming across the country, I amassed terabytes of video footage.
So, here was my problem: I didn't have a good plan to protect all that footage from disaster. If anything were to happen to the data, like say file corruption, loss or infection, all my years of hard work would be gone.
A pretty scary thought.
Well, after hearing numerous production horror stories from other directors who’d lost their footage all because they didn’t have the proper data plan in place, I realized the huge risk I was taking handling terabytes of video footage without any kind of backup plan.
At that point, my footage had become irreplaceable, and I knew that I had to address my problem, otherwise I’d eventually have my own lost footage horror story to tell.
I reached out to a couple of my professional post-production friends because I knew absolutely nothing about protecting my data. They all told me that I needed to practice good data redundancy.
I’d never heard of redundancy before, so I had no clue what it meant or how I was supposed to make it good. They explained to me that it means to have a file saved in two or more different places, for instance saving copies of your data to different on-site storage solutions, or solutions with built-in redundancy, like a RAID or NAS.
Basically, backup copies equals good redundancy, which is the key ingredient to data integrity.
They also told me that using off-site storage through the Cloud will increase my data integrity even more.
Unlike redundancy, I’d heard of the Cloud before, but all I knew about the Cloud was the fact that it exists and has attracted a lot of buzz.
After a good while having it explained to me by one of my more tech savvy friends, the Cloud finally became clear to me.
I’ll spare you the confusion-induced headaches I had and explain the Cloud in simple terms. Cloud storage is basically a giant online disc drive that authorized users can access through any device via the internet. You, as the administrator, have the power to authorize users and can easily keep track of where your data is moved, as well as save and transfer your data directly to and from the Cloud.
Since then, I’ve been using both on-site and off-site storage for my documentary footage. I primarily use the Cloud because I am able to both save extra copies of my data and safely move it around whenever I need to, but I also like to store my footage on a RAID unit as well. There’s just something comforting about knowing your data is physically safe right next to you.
Addressing my data problem was long overdue. I was lucky, but unfortunately not all of us are. So many people lose their precious data. It gets stolen or it’s corrupted by malware. And the saddest part is that it was completely avoidable.
I’ve learned a great deal about protecting data through my experiences, and I want to share what I’ve learned so you never have to go through the pain of losing data when transferring your data though the internet.
First and foremost, ensure the authentication of the companies and users that you’re trusting your data with. Make sure people are who they say they are. You don’t want some stranger handling your data, unless you want your stuff to get stolen.
Second, there needs be an authorization process on the system you’re using that will stop anyone trying to access your data that hasn’t been authorized by you. And, if any unauthorized user actually tries to access your data, the system needs to be able to encrypt your data, stopping any unapproved access. I can’t stress data security enough.
Next, make sure you have data integrity. This essentially means that you’re ensuring none of your data can become corrupted.
Also, you’ll want to have means of non-repudiation. It makes people and companies accountable if they deny having taken an action or agreed to something.
Lastly, use a system with a high rate of availability, which ensures that there won’t be any interrupted access.
Data protection should always be at the top of your priorities, and your data is most at risk when transferring to or between off-site systems. But if you follow the tips, you and your data should be fine.
For those who are intimidated by all this, don’t worry! There are solutions out there that make it easy to move and manage large video files. One company, Signiant, offers a service called Media Shuttle that makes it easy to move large files fast and securely. One of the benefits of Media Shuttle is you can quickly and easily move your files into the cloud or into your own storage, it’s your choice. Media Shuttle is drag and drop so there’s no training required to send large video files fast between people, between systems and to and from the cloud.