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Long Term Video Storage Methods

written by: Shane Burley•edited by: Rhonda Callow•updated: 9/29/2009

Here is a guide to, and some tips for, methods of video storage for the long term. This includes portable hard drives, memory cards, internal storage, internet storage, and different disc technologies.

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    Permanent Video Storage

    Shooting video has become so easy and inexpensive that even the most casual hobbyists are amassing large collections of raw footage. This digital video footage could just be home movies of birthdays and soccer games, or it could be large volumes of interview video from a feature documentary. The truth is that even after the initial edits of your video are through you may want to archive this video for further use and reference.

    Decades ago this was an expensive process as you had to store this footage on film in temperature and light sensitive holding locations. Now you resort to the same place you store all information: digital storage locations. Here are a few ways that you can begin to store your raw video footage for the long term.

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    Portable Hard Drives vs. Memory Cards

    The important thing you are going to have to measure is price versus reliability. Portable hard drives are still the most inexpensive format for the size that you can get, but they are prone to failing at unplanned times. Depending on the amount of use this could be less than a year, but if you are just placing footage on their and leaving it you have a few.

    Memory cards are fairly stable, but small and expensive. You are going to need dozens for the same space allowed by a standard portable hard drive. If you do resort to memory cards you are also going to have to find a stable location to store them. This is also true of portable hard drives for video footage storage, but memory cards are much smaller and prone to damage from trauma. If you are going to use an external hard drive for your long term video storage make sure that the casing is strong, it has its own power supply, and it uses Firewire 400 and 800, as well as USB 2.0.

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    Video Storage in ATA Drives

    Many people prefer the 3.5 inch ATA drives that act as a completely "bare bones" operation. These are essentially internal hard drives that you can buy for very cheap, but do not come with anything that you would use to operate on its own. You can then get several of them and create your own tower with power supplies and a casing apparatus. This works similar to building a computer for storage of your video footage, but much more simple and cheap.

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    Video Storage Discs

    Standard DVD is an option, but not a good one. They are very easily destroyed by casual use and can only hold 4.7 GB. You would then have to store them in a special location like you did with the memory cards. Some Mini DV tapes can hold 11 GB of footage, so you can see how replacing a single Mini DV tape with a DVD may not be the economic video storage choice.

    A new disc format that is emerging is the Holographic Versatile Disc and it tries to put 300 to 500 GB on a disc that is the same as the one Blue-ray uses. They have promised to eventually be able to store anywhere from 3.9 to 6 Terabytes on them and hold a transfer speed that is around forty times what DVD is holding. This is just an emerging technology and it may take time for the price and technology to be practical for most people.

    Blue-ray still holds 25 GB on a single layer disc and 50 GB on a dual layer disc, and is the primary format for HD video. The problem with all disc technologies is that have organic dyes used in storage and they can fade over time. This puts them in the same category as raw color film, which degrades.

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    Multi-Platform Video Storage

    The best choice is going to be the more expensive one, and that is to use several options and create back ups. If you take a large storage computer of several dozen TB and store your video in there you are going to find the best results. If you pay for a large internet storage account to back it up you will be even safer. Then you can use one of these other long term video storage formats for a third back up. This is going to cost thousands of dollars, but if the video footage is that important then the price will be worth it.