For companies that produce regular corporate videos, you shouldn’t rely on a video production company to hold onto all of your data. Video production companies can’t afford to keep dozens of terabytes of digital data in multiple secure locations unless they’re charging their clients a premium for work. Most video production companies also won’t or can’t promise to hold onto data forever. Fortunately, inexpensive options exist for individual companies to back up their data and have some peace of mind. In the event the production company loses the data, you’ll still have a backup.
We make a best faith attempt to keep all data for five years by backing up footage onto multiple RAID (Redundant Array of Independent Devices) units, which are hardware units like a Drobo that contain many hard drives. With a Drobo or other similar RAID unit, a series of drives turns into one superdrive with built-in redundancy so that if one individual hard drive fails, no data is lost. Unless you are producing hundreds of videos, though, you need not worry about an expensive RAID unit for long-term data storage.
Smaller, less expensive RAID units exist with only two drives that are ideal for minimal backup solutions. Instead of RAID units, clients can also purchase two external hard drives and back up all of their video work onto each one identically. To protect against theft, fire, or other location-specific destruction, try to place the two drives in different locations. For instance, one could be at the corporate office and another in a bank vault. They could be placed in different corporate offices. A second backup could even be placed with a marketing agency or other friendly vendor, if necessary.
Besides proper data backup, care must be taken to verify the data is still available and not corrupted and that the drives haven’t failed. A good practice is to plug in the drives, turn them on, and verify the data periodically, like every six months or one year. If a drive fails, you have a backup, so you can buy a new drive, transfer the footage from the good drive onto the new one, and again have a redundant backup. No matter where you store a drive, what brand makes the drive, or how carefully you treat it, hard drives fail. They contain moving parts and, eventually, all hard drives will fail. By always having a backup, you protect yourself from losing expensive corporate video productions.
Another option for backing up critical data is cloud storage. Although not ideal for terabytes of data, if all you want to backup is the finished master video files, you could easily pay for a subscription service like DropBox or use Google Drive to store videos securely in the cloud. Numerous cloud storage options exist at very reasonable price points, which can be perfect for companies that don’t want to fuss with drive storage and the logistics that go along with it.
The care you take to backup corporate video productions is proportional to how much you spend on your videos, how valuable the footage will be in the future, and how much you trust your existing production company. If you’re producing videos that quickly go out of date, backing up the data may not be a huge priority. If you’re shooting beautiful Ultra HD footage that can be repurposed for future videos, having reliable, bulletproof backup solutions is critical. Additionally, a video production company has every incentive to keep your data safe if you’re doing regular work with them because they’re still making money off re-edits.