A word on RAIDs

Many of you who are editors or just film makers who edit from time to time are working in HD now and may be running into some technical issues that make life less fun.  Let me help you understand something that will make a huge difference in your life.

You need a media RAID.

What is that you ask?  Well, a RAID is a Redundant Array of Independent Disks, basically a bunch of hard disks that behave like one big drive.  If you’re using HD, you’re now dealing with 30 times the amount of data you had when you were in SD, so now you need more space.  The problem is you can’t just go out and buy a 7200 rpm 2 tb drive and expect everything to be hunky dory.  If you don’t have a fast enough drive you will wind up with video under run which means the drive can’t read the data fast enough to play it back.  There are fast drives (10K rpm) that can get the job done but you have to understand that these are smaller and more expensive.  A media RAID is an external assembly with a bunch of hard drives in it that allows you to configure it as either a “striped” RAID, a “mirrored” RAID or both.  A striped raid shares info across the drives, so one high def file would exist in pieces on all three (though the computer would see it as one) and as a result you can read it fast enough to play it back.  A mirrored RAID means one hard drive backs up the data on the other, so bad sectors or even burn out won’t threaten your data.  The problem with mirroring is that it cuts down your space by half.

So where do you get a RAID?  Well, you have Avid, who make great stuff, but their RAID is very expensive and unless you want the warranty, don’t buy it.  Data Robotics have their Drobo series which can get the job done but only if you have the right networking protocol.  Then you can do it yourself.

I advocate building your own RAID.  Here’s how: go someplace like newegg.com and buy a ESATA RAID card.  ESATA is just external SATA cables which are the cables that connect your internal hard disks to the motherboard.  This should cost about $130.  Then get several internal SATA hard drives, 1 tb should do for about $100 (the number of the slots on the ESATA RAID card will tell you how many you need) and external enclosures to match, for about $30 a piece.  Put the drives in the enclosures (there should be instructions with the enclosures) and plug them into the card, which should be easy to put into your computer– if you don’t know how to install a PCI card, look it up at About.com  I did.

Once you have the hardware in, just install your drivers and presto, massive media RAID at a tenth the cost of the name brands.  Have fun!


One response to “A word on RAIDs

  1. This is very informative! I thought it was called a RAID because it was some kind of badass raider thing or something.

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