Whether you’re new to editing or someone looking into more storage options for your workflow, RAID storage might be a viable option. It may be a little overwhelming at first, with all of the options it offers, but RAID has become one of the more reliable systems that exist for creators alike. So what is raid storage, and why might you consider it?
Getting to Know RAID
What is RAID storage?
Hard drives are obviously essential to saving and storing your work. But when it comes to storing film or television projects, or in other words, countless files of all different sizes, some editors swing for something more reliable than a basic hard drive.
Raid Storage Definition
What is RAID?
RAID is a technology that puts multiple hard drives together to increase the performance of what a single drive can do. It increases the reliability and function of data storage. RAID stands for A Redundant Array of Independent Disks, and it can speed up your computer while giving you a single “drive” that holds as much as all of the drives combined. It essentially acts like a super hard drive. Certain RAID drive configurations work better for certain actions.
Common RAID levels and setups
- RAID 0
- RAID 1
- RAID 5
- RAID 6
- RAID 10
The configurations of RAID available to you depends on what you need them for, and RAID 0, 5, 6, and 10 are most common for video editors. We’ll get into all of them so it you’re a bit more knowledgeable before you consider a purchase.
Years ago, when basic hard drives weren’t so cost effective, RAID came in to solve the problem. By combining multiple, less expensive, (some people refer to RAID as Redundant Array of Inexpensive Disks), drives, you could get more capacity and faster performance.
What about Redundancy?
RAID was built to bring about redundancy. In storage terms, it’s really another word for protection. It’s sometimes called fault tolerance, or failover protection in case a drive fails. The purpose is to ensure that the data or array remains usable if and when that happens.
Like the three examples above with a number attached to RAID, that number refers to the number of drives that can fail while the array is still functionable. So let’s break down a few of these RAID drive configurations and get to know the differences.
RAID Drives and Configurations
Getting to know RAID hard drives
Keep in mind, RAID storage doesn’t protect you against viruses/malware issues, and you should always follow basic backup procedures, but it helps if the machine itself fails. And going even further than that, knowing which RAID level to choose depends on what you want it for and how you plan to use it.
Unless you’re dealing with humongous files, I wouldn’t use RAID 0. Don’t get me wrong, it’s built for speed and performance and it does execute on that. It uses something called striping, which breaks up the data into smaller pieces and writes it across many drives. You’re accessing all drives in parallel, so you get insane throughput. But, unless you’re working with enormous files or HD video editing, it may not be worth it. If just one of the hard drives fails, you risk losing it all. Because now, every file is affected. This actually makes it not really “RAID” because there is no redundancy (that’s where the “0” comes in).
This is a great setup for the beginner enthusiast. It mirrors data onto multiple disks. So this is true RAID storage because you have several hard drives that are exactly the same. The obvious pro here is that if one drive fails, you have another to keep working with- it’s solid reliability. The con is that it’s performance can be a bit slow and it does cost you in space capacity. It takes 50% of your total drive capacity. So if you have two 2TB drives you only get to use 2TB not 4. It can get fairly expensive to buy extra storage.
The one uses striping like 0 but in smaller pieces. But no one really uses it too much anymore because it requires many disks to get the job done.
Again, also not as used as much. (Or at least as much as 0, 1, 5, or 6, which says enough). It also stripes to multiple drives but now at the byte level. But because of this all drives work together as one, and so it can only write on thing at a time.
One disk takes care of data parity and error correction. Data parity refers to a technique that determines whether data has been written over or lost when it’s transferred between computers or moved from one storage place to another. This is good for high transfer rates, but not really necessary for most people. You’ll need three disks.
You’ll also need three disks for this one, and it also uses a striping and parity setup. Date is striping at the block level, records can be read from any disk. But they do need to go to only one parity disk. This causes a slowdown of performance. Also, not commonly used.
It uses parity with striping. It requires 3 hard disk drives to work. Parity data is spread across all of the drives, so there is never any disk bottleneck (or impairment) so it’s one of the more commonly used RAID setups.
6 is the same as 5 but arguably safer than RAID 5 because it can survive losing two disks instead of only one. But you do need more disks than 5. It requires a minimum of 4 to function.
RAID 10 is also referred to as RAID 1+0. It combines the features of 0 and 1⏤disk mirroring and striping to protect data, requiring 4 disks. Sometimes, it can be faster than 5 because it doesn’t have to manage parity. 10, 5 and 6 are the most commonly used by video editors.
Post Production Storage
Raid systems and the video editor
Typical RAID arrays are put directly into your computer system.
Or if there is a lot of footage, an external RAID might be used. This is called a DAS or Direct Access Storage.
But when you’re a production house, or other facility with multiple workstations, centralized storage is needed.
Centralized storage has to cater to each workstation at the same speed. It has to allow for people to access the same file at the same time without sacrificing speed. A popular centralized storage system used is called a Storage Area Network or SAN.
This is most common for films. As a film editor, you’ll naturally have a lot of unorganized footage to deal with. Multiple shoot days, multiple takes, if you’re an editor, and especially assistant editor, you know how much needs to be sifted to get to the good stuff. So if you’re not a part of a production house, that has all this gear at your disposal, consider looking into RAID storage for your personal workstation.
Post Production Workflow
Guest writer, Larry Jordan, gives us some insight into his post production workflow and what he considers to keep it organized and on track. Read on to see how to manage all the moving parts