Backup Strategies for the Small Facility

by James McKenna 


Backup strategies for the small facility blogThe amount of worldwide storage capacity being used for duplicates of files that exist elsewhere is staggering. However, a lot of that capacity is cloud upload of your mobile phone photos and videos, which is happening automatically when you get hold of a WIFI signal. If you didn’t know that was happening, now you have more of a reason to be cautious with your subject matter.

In our world, many facilities in the business of generating gobs of huge files have no effective way of backing that data up. Too big for the cloud and too slow at your internet speeds, terabytes of data sit waiting for a careless shift-select-delete. Of course, there’s also the infrequent possibility of major hardware problems, power hits, earthquakes, and floods. These things must be taken into consideration when planning your recovery method, bearing in mind where your business will be if you can’t recover from these calamities.

Justifying a shared storage system for your editing jobs is easy. You just couldn’t get the work done without it. Justifying a backup infrastructure is difficult, because it may be a big purchase that assumes something will occur that potentially may never happen. Thinking big isn’t always a strong suit of the small facility manager, who is more likely to spend as little as possible to get through the job, and get paid. So, facilities are littered with small storage enclosures, holding camera masters from various projects. Desktops of edit workstations are packed with backups of project data and graphics/render files.

With all this replicated data, it’s easy to have a sense of security that everything is safe.  However, gathering up all the elements needed for continuity when the worst happens may be impossible, even if all the random hard drives on the shelf power up and work. Some of the same benefits of your shared storage system are a requirement for your backup strategy. This includes data protection, centralization, and accessibility.

In a different blog, I discussed that ownership of the content may determine your archive strategy. In backup, your business continuity is at risk, regardless of who owns it in the end. Backup offers a way to do just that – be “back up” and running as soon as possible after an unfortunate event. The problem most facilities find with backup strategies is with the constant upkeep and management. Drives are cheap enough, but backup is normally a cumulative process, which can result in a lot more in data in backup than you have online.

Option 1 – Cloud. Yes, the first thing I said was that you have too much data and not enough speed for cloud backup, but it still has some appeal. If you don’t want to spend on something that you may never have to use, cloud is perfect. Cloud storage is not very expensive, but downloads can be. You’ll never have to download if your data never gets lost, but it will be there if you need it, even in the case of natural disaster. You’ll sleep better at night knowing your data exists, but not if you accidentally delete a week of camera masters and need them back NOW.

Option 2 – NAS. A lot of companies can sell you a NAS box with internal storage, bullet-proof RAID protection and connectivity through standard network protocol for any workstation. Your shared storage system can interface with this through the same protocols, and automate the backups. This is great compromise for having fast access to the backup data without added expense whether you have a big pipe to your ISP or not, but it falls short of the most immediate recovery options when something does happen. You’ll still need to move your files to the shared storage to complete the job.

Option 3 – Hosted Nearline. On Facilis systems, we use a category of storage that attaches directly to the TerraBlock server or Hub Server. This storage is called nearline, but many of our customers use it in an automated backup workflow. It will be costlier per GB than NAS storage, but the content is available NOW. Our nearline systems can be shared as Multi-user Write and have all the same features as your project-based volumes, so the backup data can take the place of the online data directly. This gives you more freedom to purge data from your expensive storage, knowing that you can have it back immediately.

Regardless of what you chose, do something. You’d rather be the hero on that random Thursday afternoon, than be the person who must tell your biggest client the bad news.