Protection file

Archiving, Backing Up and Protecting Data for Media Professionals (Part 3-3)

In the final part of our series on Archiving and Backup for Professionals, archival specialist Marc M Batschkus discusses the pros and cons of different archival media.

Read part 2 here.

What belongs to the archives?

The basis of the archive is made up of multimedia assets. Production notes, technical documentation, etc. can greatly contribute to the value of archives.

When a restore is needed, it is helpful to see a proxy before the high resolution file is restored. Archiware’s P5 archive offers automatic generation of proxies for the catalog.

The less obvious candidates for the archive are tools, plugins, effects software, and anything else that goes into production. These can be very useful if a production needs to be recreated.

When buying a new workstation, keeping the ‘old’ one and putting it away, including all tools etc., it can save many hours when a production environment needs to be recreated .

Video codecs can limit future access to files. Larry Jordan wrote a helpful article on how to find affected clips and manage them (see link).

Test everything and regularly!

Every backup and archive solution is as good as the functional restore process. Testing is the only way to know that the entire chain is working as expected.

Archiving and storage

Flash storage cards, SSDs, hard drives, LTO tapes, and optical media, each category of storage has its own set of advantages and disadvantages.

While production storage needs maximum speed, archive storage needs durability, high capacity, and low cost per TB. Scalability and options for future needs are also available. important. Hard drives were never made to sit on a shelf.

Hard drives have a limited lifespan and are unsuitable for long-term archiving.

For long-term storage, only optical media and LTO tapes are candidates. The durability of optical storage is limited and there are no reliable studies and experiences regarding long-term archives. In addition, capacity and throughput are limited.

There is a medium that has proven to be reliable long-term storage in industry, finance, science, and media creation, LTO tape.

LTO-Tape – professional support

LTO was created and entered the market as LTO-1 in 2000. In the compact cartridge, the data density grew to a remarkable native 12TB with LTO-8 (and 18TB with LTO-9 announcement).

Multiple layers of security provide reliable and durable data storage. :

  • Read after write
  • Correction of errors
  • Automatic speed avoiding stops and starts or shining of shoes and reducing wear.
  • Precise handling of the tape inside the drive

LTO-8 tapes.

Don’t try this at home. The tape remains inside the cartridge for the user.

Desktop drives with Thunderbolt connection by mLogic, MagStor and OWC turn a PC or Mac into an archiving workstation. Expanding the capacity is extremely simple and cost effective (around 10 USD / € per TB) by simply adding new tapes.

LTO-Tape has found its place in the media and entertainment industry due to its durability, long lifespan and low price.

LTO-6

LTO-7

LTO-8

LTO-9 (announced)

Capacity (native)

2.5 TB

6 TB

12 TB

18 TB

Read, write speed

160MB / s

300MB / s

360 MB / s

400MB / s

Compatible Rread/Write

R 4.5.6

L 5.6

R 5.6.7

L 6.7

R 7.8

L 7.8

R 8.9

L 8.9

Ribbon price / TB approx.

10 € / USD

10 € / USD

12 € / USD

(to confirm)

Single reader price

2000 € / USD

2500 € / USD

3800 € / USD

(to confirm)


Archive workstation with P5 Archive and LTO desktop drive by mLogic.

Financially, a tape archive pays off within a few years. Compared to the constant investment for production storage expansions, tape archive expansion is very affordable.


Comparison of tape and disk costs.

The tape with its “air space” here offers foolproof protection against malware and cyberattacks by physically separating the computer / network from the LTO tape.

Offsite media storage for maximum security

For backup and archiving, offsite storage is of particular importance. This is the only way to protect against unforeseeable incidents that affect the studio or office building.

The cloud is also offsite

Cloud services offer an alternative to local storage. Internet line speed and long term cost should be considered as well as additional charges for accessing or downloading. Alternative cloud services like Backblaze, Wasabi and RSTOR have attractive prices. For maximum flexibility, backup and archive software should offer disk, tape and cloud support like Archiware P5.

Backing up and archiving is as good as restoring

To ensure that the entire chain of hardware, network, software, media, and associated processes are functioning smoothly, recovery requires frequent testing.

Checklist for long-term professional archives

√ Storage medium with long term durability

√ Consistent archiving of all completed projects and assets

√ Systematic entry or import of metadata (workflow checklist)

√ Redundant storage media or additional security step

√ Offsite storage for maximum security

√ Archive catalog for browsing and research

√ Support for migration to future generations of storage media

√ Configuration covers predefined requirements and can evolve for future growth

√ Complete documentation of the archive and restore process

√ Backup and archiving run without negative impact on production

√ Periodic restoration test, for example monthly

Many media assets gain in value over time or become of historical value. Customers come back after years with requests for previous productions. The archive supports the business in many ways, saving production storage, making it easier to find files, protecting old projects, and reducing backup volume.

Links and literature

Alternatives to cloud storage

Archiware P5 is the only solution that covers archiving, backup and cloning / replication in one solution; it also works on QNAP, Synology and NetGear. Free 30-day trial license available.

P5 license for a single LTO drive

LTO Desktop Readers

Free eBook: Data Management, Backup and Archiving for Media Professionals