Storage Systems for Photography and Videography

Updated: Oct 20

How I Solved My Media Storage Issues With The Cloud

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It doesn’t matter whether you’re a stock videographer or photographer, amateur or professional, you’re going to run into issues surrounding storage. Storage of props and equipment may sometimes be a nightmare, but storing all of your media data will be impossible if you go into it blind.

It’s important to understand that different cameras and settings will produce differently sized pieces of data. The Sony a7iii with a 35mm lens produces 3:2 images in the large resolution that are 24MB large, and 16:9 at 20MB. Other cameras will be much different, yet video will always be much larger, especially when shot in 4K, and often go into the gigabytes. As I shoot two to three times a week, the amount of data can be quite large at the end of each week.

For me, storing all my media is especially hard for a few reasons. First, I do both stock photography and video. This becomes an issue as videos are quite large, and one shoots total output of processed images is around 600GB-1TB. Producing this much media in one shoot quickly adds up, and becomes hard to store and backup. Another reason that storage is hard is because large advances in technology continue to increase the size of images and video. For example, a video shot in 4K will require over 3 times as much space as a video shot in 1080p. As you continue to make more videos and images, this size difference increases. Especially as 8K cameras begin to emerge into the market, the sizes of the media produced will be even larger. These two things make life hard for stock photographers, but that’s only considering the data itself, and not storage.

As all this data is produced during shooting, they need to be stored somewhere. Before processing and submission begins, they must be backed up somewhere, and that’s where the trouble in storage begins. These images don’t have to be backed up, but it is extremely risky to not do so, as you can lose hours of work if something between the camera and your computer goes wrong. Even if you do have the resources to backup all of your media, time becomes an issue. As shooting and editing take your time, it can be hard to find time to backup all of your media. If you do have time to store all of your media, I find it probable that something bad happens to your storage. Every year or so, my computer’s hard disk drive (HDD) would fail, and I would lose all my data and have to invest time and money into recovering all of my data, which is very expensive. It’s normal for disk drives to crash if they sit too long or are too overloaded with massive amounts of data, but this can become troublesome for photographers, who are dependent on their data being safely stored. Even when my HDD’s weren’t failing, they were quickly becoming full, and I would continue to just buy another one to fill up with images. As this process of hard drives failing, buying more hard drives, and risky not backing up my media, my husband suggested cloud storage. At the time, cloud storage solutions were quite expensive, as those services charged by file size. With large amounts of big pieces of media, cloud storage would be far more expensive than buying HDDs. I continued to use physical storage, which ended up costing me a lot of money as I would have to buy more and more hard drives.

These days, cloud storage is much more cost effective. I use Google’s G-Suite cloud storage, which allows for unlimited storage on the cloud at a reasonable cost. I’ve been using G-Suite for about a year and a half, and it took around three months to upload all of my data onto the cloud. When I backup my files on G-Suite, I backup only the raw files I produce. As soon as I finish a shoot, I immediately backup all the raw data from the shoot. I do this in the case that I lose any of my processed media, I always have the raw media backed up. The only negative of G-Suite is that if they increase their prices to an unreasonable amount, I’ll have to deal with it. As all of my data is there, it would be nearly impossible to switch storage services and move around 70 TB of data somewhere else. Of course, there are several other cloud storage services that have varied costs surround amounts of data:

Adobe Creative Cloud - Adobe’s cloud storage service comes with a subscription of all of their services, which costs $52 a month. As it comes free with tools that you should already be using, this service is more convenient, but they have a 10TB storage limit. This service could be beneficial for amateur photographers, but doesn't quite work for those with larger amounts of data.

Solid State Drives (SSD) - Solid state drives are much more reliable than hard disk drives, though they cost more. They are often also smaller and faster than HDD’s, which is good for those choosing for physical storage over cloud storage. A 1TB SSD costs around $100, which is a fair price for stable physical storage.

Hard Disk Drives (HDD) - Hard Disk Drives are the other physical choice of storage, but they differ from SSDs greatly. As they have moving parts containing data, they are much more prone to failure when loading them with data. Despite this, they are far less pricey than SSD’s, as a 1TB HDD will cost only around $40- and a 4TB HDD can be bought for around $70. HDDs are much more cost effective if you plan on stacking lots of physical drives together, but they can quickly become unstable with large amounts of media on them.

Google’s G-Suite - Google’s G-Suite is the service that I use, and I’ve found that is the most cost-effective cloud storage service. This service costs $12 a month with unlimited data storage, along with access to productivity tools to help me run my business. This service’s strength is in the unlimited data storage, as it offers cost-effective storage for both amateur photographers with only a small amount of data, to those that have terabytes and terabytes of data.

Google cloud storage

Unlimited cloud storage for photos and video Get 10% off the first year on G Suite Business starter with promotion code 7C7PGKVA6RD4L9V, and 10% off the first year on G Suite Business Standard with GANXTTA7HKDT3HR

Redundant Array of Independent Disks (RAID) - his is a highly complex system of using multiple hard disk drives, and can utilize between 8 or 20 separate disk drives. Data is saved onto them as if it were one drive, but the multiple layers provide redundancy in the case of hardware failure, but this system is not a backup. This system is often too complex or expensive to be used for storing image and video data, so I don’t recommend it, but it can sometimes be a viable option. To store 4TB, the lowest amount of data that can be used for RAID, it costs $700 for the hard drives and casing.

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