The Best Storage for Video Editing | Post Workflow Strategy & Backups

What is the best storage for video editing? Learn how to set up your RAID or NAS video storage with an effective backup and workflow strategy.

As a video creator your camera source video files are the most valuable thing you have. Project files are usually small, and easy to back up. Almost everything else can conceivably be recreated. But if you lose your source video files, you’ve lost everything.

Making sure you’ve got reliable, fast online video storage to work from is the first step. However, it’s not enough by itself. It’s important to have an overall strategy and workflow for duplication, media management, and disaster recovery. This involves both hardware, and software that needs to integrate well with the way you work.

If a file doesn’t exist in three places, it doesn’t exist.

It’s a common saying among IT professionals, and actually anyone involved in managing data. Our digital world is incredibly fragile. Hard drives fail. In fact there is a 100% chance that every hard drive you own and use will fail. That data will be gone forever if it doesn’t exist elsewhere, and just one backup is not enough. RAID arrays give you redundancy which helps, but doesn’t excuse you from making sure your data exists in two other locations.

The goal of this article is to break down what’s important, what things you really shouldn’t compromise on, and the simplest ways to implement critical best practices on a budget.

Key Points

This is a long article. If you don’t want to read through it, here are some key points.

  • If a file doesn’t exist in three places, it doesn’t exist.
  • Online Storage is high speed attached working storage for instant access to active video media and other files.
    Nearline Storage is attached storage for short term data that needs to be instantly accessible, but doesn’t require the speed of the online storage.
    Offline Storage is medium term storage of data that is not attached or instantly accessible. A backup is an example of offline data.
  • Clone is for making data available to use in a different location.
    Backup is for recovery from hardware failure or recent data corruption or loss.
    Archive is for space management and long term retention.
  • You can use a direct attached RAID, or a shared NAS as your primary working online storage. However, always duplicate your media to other offline storage. This can be pairs of cloned external hard drives, or even LTO tape using a desktop LTO tape drive.
  • Configure your RAID storage for redundancy using RAID 5. This protects your data from a single drive failure in the array. If you have a larger 8-drive RAID, you can consider RAID 6. This adds additional redundancy (two drives) and prevents your data from being at risk during a drive rebuild.
  • If you ever lose all the data on your online storage and have to rebuild it from a backup, be aware that individual external hard drives are very slow. LTO tapes are a safe, and fast way to backup, archive, and restore high volumes of data.
  • If you cannot tolerate any downtime to restore data, the most effective method to protect the data on your online storage is to mirror it to an identical secondary server. When two servers are configured as a high availability cluster, data is mirrored automatically. High availability offers seamless failover to the secondary server if the primary experiences a failure. There is zero downtime, and once the failure is resolved, the mirror will be rebuilt automatically.
  • External SSD drives are a great portable online storage solution on location or when traveling. But remember to always backup your media to other offline storage. Pairs of cloned USB external hard drives are ideal and don’t take up much space, but are slow to restore data from.
  • Cloud storage is becoming more affordable. There are options for personal cloud backup (including backup of external hard drives) and to backup an entire NAS.

The Best Storage for Video Editing, VFX, and Color Grading

I’ll admit it, the title of this article, and this section heading is mainly for good SEO. There is no such thing as a one such fits all solution for video and media professionals. The best media storage for video editing and post production is not the same for everyone. This article is intended as a guide for individual video creators using up to an 8-bay desktop RAID storage solution, regardless of whether it is a DAS (direct attached) or NAS (network attached). Beyond this scale, all of the same technical principles apply, but involve much larger systems. Nothing essentially changes at a larger scale. However, rack mounted enterprise shared storage, and robotic LTO tape libraries are beyond the scope of this article.

What you’ll find in this article is an explanation of the requirements to ensure your data is always safe, and the different hardware options you can consider. I’ve tried to make this modular in the sense that you should choose a solution for online working storage, a solution for continuous duplication (backup) and also for long term archive. You can also add cloud storage to any kind of on-site workflow. Working from online storage alone with no backup of your files is not a strategy at all.

I also categorize the common kinds of files in video post production, and suggest what kind of storage is best for them. You’ll also learn about common RAID levels, and the best file system choices to format your drives.

Online vs Nearline vs Offline

I’m certain you’ve heard these terms used widely when discussing video storage. Here are some useful and simple definitions.

  • Online Storage is high speed attached working storage for instant access to active video media and other files.
  • Nearline Storage is attached storage for short term data that needs to be instantly accessible, but doesn’t require the speed of the online storage.
  • Offline Storage is medium term storage of data that is not attached or instantly accessible. A backup is an example of offline data.

Online Video vs Offline Video (Proxies)

To make things a bit more confusing, the terms “online” and “offline” are also used to describe source video files, and low resolution, compressed video “proxies”. This doesn’t really have anything to do with storage but I’ll explain here to help clarify the terminology and prevent confusion.

  • Online video files are full resolution, original source video files.
  • Offline video files are low resolution, compressed proxy versions of the online video files that have been created (transcoded) directly from the online video files.

Offline video files, sometimes just called proxies, are sometimes created to enable easier and faster editing if the full resolution online video files are too large or too slow for a computer to play back efficiently. In this case an “offline edit” can make use the lower resolution, lower quality proxy video files for fast and fluid editing. Once the edit is locked, the sequence can be reconnected to the full resolution online video files (this process is called a conform) for color grading and export of final deliverables.

Often these offline video proxies can be generated as standalone files, and will always share the exact same filenames, and timecode as the source online video files. They will often have a different file extension (but not always) because the codec and format may be different. As long as the filename and timecode are the same as the parent online video files, it will be possible to easily reconnect (conform) a sequence back to the online video files.

Some software, such as DaVinci Resolve can create optimized media which it handles internally. These are effectively offline proxy video files that Resolve generates and keeps hidden away in a cache directory. It is the same with DaVinci Resolve’s render cache, which are temporary proxy video files rendered only from portions of online source video clips in a sequence.

There are many reasons to create, or use offline proxy video files if they help streamline your workflow or increase performance, but whether they are a standalone set of files, or a hidden cache, they can always be recreated from the original online source video files.

Copy vs Backup vs Archive

Before we can dive into different types of video storage, or even strategy and structure, I want to define the key differences between a copy, a backup, and an archive. It’s easy to blur the lines and think of these all as simply duplication of your video files, but each serves a different purpose.

  • Clone is for making data available to use in a different location
  • Backup is for recovery from hardware failure or recent data corruption or loss
  • Archive is for space management and long term retention

You may or may not need clones of your video files or project data as part of your workflow. The use of networked shared storage is intended to reduce the need to create clones for other machines you might be using, or other collaborators to work with. However, backups and archives need to be a part of every video editor, or creators workflow.

Backup

  • One of multiple copies of data in active use
  • Kept in sync with active storage
  • Should be fast to restore in the event of unrecoverable active online storage failure
  • Intended for short term data retention
  • Retained for as long as data is in active use

Archive

  • Usually the only remaining copy of data no longer in active use
  • Long term stability is more important than speed of data retrieval
  • Intended for long term retention
  • Retained indefinitely
  • Data cannot be altered or deleted once archived

Video Storage Strategy & Structure

Before you start shopping for video editing storage solutions, it’s important to have a strategy in mind. You should know how you want to structure and work with your active data, and how you plan to create and maintain backups, and long term archives. There are different risks associated with different types of storage and performance vs security vs price trade-offs.

Let’s start by looking at three examples, starting with a simple one person setup, and gradually expanding in complexity.

Direct Attached Video Storage and USB Hard Drive or LTO Backup

The simplest video editing storage workflow is to work from a fast direct attached external SSD or desktop RAID. You can easily backup your media to pairs of cloned inexpensive USB external hard drives. A desktop LTO tape drive is an excellent idea for long term archive.

A good direct attached RAID enclosure is the popular Promise Pegasus R32 range of storage. If you need the best portable storage for video editing, use an external SSD such as the SanDisk Extreme or Extreme Pro Portable SSD. The Samsung T5 SSD drives are also popular.

diagram of direct attached storage with backup
A simple direct attached storage workflow with duplication to cloned external hard drives or a desktop LTO tape drive.

NAS Video Storage and USB Hard Drive or LTO Backup

A more flexible post production storage workflow is to employ high speed shared storage using a desktop NAS over a 10GbE Ethernet LAN. This way you can easily add more workstations to the network in the future. In the example below media is backed up to pairs of cloned external USB hard drives, or better yet, LTO tape.

diagram of networked shared storage with backup
A shared storage workflow using a NAS on 10GbE ethernet, with duplication to cloned external hard drives or a desktop LTO tape drive.

NAS Mirrored Video Storage, USB Hard Drive or LTO Backup and Cloud Backup

For ultimate redundancy of your working online video storage, the below example uses two identical Synology NAS configured as a high availability cluster using SHA (Synology High Availability). These are mirrored and will failover with no interruption if one NAS experiences a failure for any reason.

I’ve illustrated the same offline backup video storage options here. Backup is to cloned pairs of external hard drives or LTO Tape. A setup taking redundancy as seriously as this would most likely be using LTO for backup.

I’ve also illustrated both computer backup and NAS backup to the cloud using BackBlaze.

diagram of networked shared storage with LTO backup and cloud backup
A shared storage workflow using two mirrored Synology NAS on 10GbE ethernet, with duplication to cloned external hard drives or a desktop LTO tape drive. Also shown is cloud computer backup and complete cloud NAS backup.

Types of Files

As well as the actual hardware involved in your post storage workflow, it’s important to think about the different kinds of data you need to deal with. Let’s break down the broad categories of files you’ll need to consider in post production.

Active Project Video Files

These media files are the online camera source files you need for active projects. These files need to be on fast enough storage to support real-time playback of multiple concurrent video streams.

Project Media Files belong on fast, online storage that is either directly attached to your system (DAS… direct attached storage), or shared to it from a NAS server (network attached storage) via 10GbE (10 Gigabit ethernet). Additionally, all active media files should be backed up to offline storage elsewhere. Your method of backup will depend on how much downtime you can cope with if you have to rebuild your online storage in the event of an unrecoverable failure (see Disaster Recovery section).

Non-Active Project Video Files

These media files are the camera source files for completed or otherwise non-active projects. If your primary online working storage is limited in capacity, you may not be able to keep a library of all your camera source media forever instantly accessible. If capacity is not an issue, and you access older media regularly, or use it as a library, you can of course keep as much of it as you’d like on your online storage.

This media, which isn’t actively being used, but needs to remain accessible, and can’t be permanently archived is a good candidate for nearline storage. Otherwise you should employ a method to sort through what camera media you really need instant access to, and what can be moved to offline storage, or archived to LTO tape.

If your non-active media is kept on your primary online storage, it should also be backed up elsewhere. If you don’t have enough capacity to keep a library of all your non-active camera source media on your primary online storage, consider keeping it duplicated onto cloned external hard drives. Better still, consider investing in a desktop LTO tape drive for archive (or use both… see Disaster Recovery section).

Library Media Files

Library media files are video, audio, graphics, images, design elements, and any common files that you use regularly in all your projects. These files also need to be on your online storage.

Your library of common media files you use regularly for all your work should be kept on your primary storage, and also duplicated elsewhere.

Rendered Project Exports

You may want to keep a collection of all your final exported project videos readily accessible. These may well be compressed video files, so may not require much space, or bandwidth. However, you may also want to keep higher quality masters of your project exports, and also different versions. If you, or a client needs quick access to a copy of some previous project export, it can be worth having these on hand. You can also charge a client a fee for keeping their final exports on hand.

Rendered project exports may not need to occupy space on your primary working storage, unless they are large or uncompressed master files. You can consider keeping them duplicated onto cloned external hard drives if they can’t be kept on your primary storage.

Video Project Files

Project files are your actual editing, graphics, animation, audio and working project files. Depending on the software you use these may be individual files, or projects may be stored in a database or folder structure (as with DaVinci Resolve). You should keep backups of all your project files, and it can be useful to have them readily available in case a need arises to reopen a previous project for changes or alterations.

Project files are usually small, and contain no media, so these can be stored a variety of ways. I would avoid keeping them on a workstation or laptop internal hard drive, unless you are also actively duplicating them elsewhere daily. In fact, it’s a good idea to keep copies of project files on cloud storage, such as iCloud or Google Drive.

Temporary Cache Video Files

Temporary cache files are often created by many software applications to speed up processes and ensure a smooth, fast user experience. For optimal performance these files should be on fast internal storage, and separated from your primary media storage.

However, cache files are temporary, and can be deleted, and recreated by the software at any time. They may however take time to regenerate, so if you are using render cache or generating optimized media in DaVinci Resolve for example, it may take time if the cache folder is deleted for any reason and you need to regenerate optimized media or cache render clips on the timeline before you can work.

Consider using an internal or external SSD for your temporary cache video files. These files do not need to be duplicated or archived.

Types of Storage for Video Editing

There are different types of storage you can use for video post production, each useful for different functions and parts of your overall workflow.

  • Online Storage – RAID enclosures, either direct attached over Thunderbolt or USB, or NAS shared over 10Gb Ethernet. A fast attached external SSD can be considered online storage too if it’s being used for that purpose.
  • Offline Storage (Backups) and Shuttle Drives – Individual external HDD and SSD (Thunderbolt or USB) that are only attached when needed and stored safely when not in use.
  • Archive – LTO Tape
  • Cloud Storage – Off site backup

Online Video Storage

As I’ve defined previously, online storage is your main working media storage. It is usually very fast, has high enough capacity to store all the media you need for currently active projects, any other projects that you may need immediate access to, and anything else you need access regularly. It’s usually a RAID array and should be configured for redundancy.

Just because your RAID can tolerate a drive failure doesn’t mean it replaces the need to backup your files somewhere else. You should always keep separate physical backups of all media on your working online storage, or, if you can budget for it, even set up mirrored online storage (plus offline backups).

Direct Attached or Network Attached (DAS or NAS)

The online storage solutions I want to look at are desktop RAID enclosures that either connect directly to a workstation over Thunderbolt 3, or can be shared to multiple workstations over 10GbE LAN. I would recommend a NAS over direct attached storage because of the flexibility of being able to share the same storage with multiple workstations. Even if you’re a solo operation, you may want to employ multiple workstations in your workflow at some point.

  • DAS – Direct Attached Storage – This is a RAID enclosure that provides storage directly to the workstation it is connected to. Your connection should be as fast as possible, Thunderbolt 3 or USB 3.2 Gen 2.
  • NAS – Network Attached Storage – This is a RAID server that provides shared storage to any workstation connected to it over a local area network (LAN). The network speed is critically important. Choose a NAS with integrated 10GbE ethernet ports. You will also need a 10GbE network switch, and your workstations should either have internal 10GbE NICs or an external 10GbE interface (Thunderbolt 2 or 3 to 10GbE).
Understanding RAID Levels

What is a RAID anyway? RAID stands for Redundant Array of Inexpensive Disks.

An array of hard drives (or SSD) can be striped together as a single volume in a few different ways. You can prioritize capacity and speed at the expense of redundancy, or find a balance of both. A balance of both is what we need.

RAID 0

A RAID 0 array writes data evenly across all the physical drives in the array for maximum capacity and maximum bandwidth. However, it has no mirroring or parity. This means that parts of every file exist across all the drives, and if one drive in the array fails, all the data is permanently lost.

I would never recommend relying on a RAID 0 configured array for safe working storage of camera media. The only exception might be if it’s mirrored to an additional identical RAID 0 array, but even then it’s much better and safer to use RAID 5 for both.

However, small dual disk or dual SSD portable RAID drives are often configured RAID 0 because increased bandwidth and capacity is the priority, not the safety of the data.

RAID 5

RAID 5 also writes data across all the drives in the array, which increases performance, but it also provides parity. The contents of any single disk is also distributed among the others disks. If any single drive in the array fails, it can be removed, and a new replacement drive swapped into the array. The contents of the failed drive will be rebuilt onto the new drive from the parity data existing across the other drives.

Data is only at risk for the duration that the replacement drive is being rebuilt. However, all the data in the array is permanently lost if more than one drive fails at a time, or if a second drive fails during rebuild.

As long as you have your data either mirrored to an identical array, or duplicated onto other storage for safety, the risk of more than one simultaneous drive failure is acceptably low. However, rebuilds take time, especially if you are using large drives. A RAID 5 array remains in a critical state for the time it takes to rebuild.

RAID 6

RAID 6 is similar to RAID 5 but offers double distributed parity. This means any two drives in the array can fail and their respective contents can be rebuilt from parity data existing on the remaining drives. The likelihood of more than two drives failing simultaneously is incredibly low, but a RAID 6 configuration will protect your data while one drive is rebuilding. For small arrays the decrease in capacity and bandwidth compared to RAID 5 is not really worth the extra protection. For larger arrays, of 8-drives or more, RAID 6 is worth considering.

Mirrored Storage

The best solution, if your budget allows, is to mirror two identical RAID 5 arrays and configure them for high availability. This doubles the cost of your online storage, but it means one entire array can experience a complete failure, and the second will seamlessly take over with no interruption.

One of the features I like about the Synology DS1817 is that two can be configured together as a storage cluster in SHA (Synology High Availability) mode. If one fails, the other takes over.

You should still have your media duplicated elsewhere, but this is the maximum level of reliability and safety you can employ for your online working storage. An unrecoverable loss of data would require two drives in each array to fail simultaneously, which is near unthinkable. Even while one array is rebuilding, your data is not at risk.

What is the Best RAID Level for Your Video Storage?

For any desktop RAID of four or more physical drives, it’s worth sacrificing the capacity of one drive for the redundancy provided by RAID 5. This will provide the best balance of usable capacity, performance, and redundancy.

As I have mentioned previously, you should always have your media duplicated to other storage regardless of how much redundancy your RAID may have. Even if it’s a high availability mirrored cluster, you should make sure all of your original camera media is duplicated to pairs of cloned external hard drives, or better yet LTO tape.

Offline Video Storage

The best offline video storage solution to use for backups are common external USB hard drives. They are cheap and available in high capacity as single drives. They should always be bought in pairs, and backups created as two identical cloned drives. They should be kept updated periodically when necessary and stored safely. Offline backups are intended for use only when needed to restore data.

LTO tapes can also be used to backup data that won’t change, such as source camera media, but is better suited to long term archive. That said, it’s not uncommon to see individual portable LTO tape drives on a DIT cart for backup of camera files on location.

Archive

The best solution for long term archival of data are LTO tapes. With an expected lifetime of over 20 years LTO will outlast and outperform any hard drive or solid state storage technology. I discuss LTO in more detail in the disaster recovery section.

Cloud

Cloud storage is becoming more affordable at the capacities required for the backup of large video files. Internet bandwidth is the main limitation of how quickly data can by uploaded and downloaded. However, some services accommodate shipping a physical hard drive if the data is required urgently.

Disaster Recovery

The term disaster recovery sounds dramatic, but this is an apt description for the worst kind of media storage failure you might experience. This describes a total and unrecoverable loss of media from your online working storage. Here are some possible scenarios.

  • A single drive failure in a RAID-0 array (it’s only a matter of time).
  • A (somewhat unlikely) simultaneous two drive failure in a RAID-5 array.
  • Theft
  • Fire or natural disaster

In any of these scenarios it will take time to repair or replace your online storage, and it will then take more time to restore your media and data from a backup.

When deciding what kind of backup solution to use, cost is a big factor for most of us, but before buying a bunch of cheap consumer USB hard drives to use for your backups, ask yourself the questions below and consider these options too.

Some important questions to ask:

If your online working storage experiences a catastrophic failure resulting in permanent loss of data, how critical is the time required to restore your data from backup?

Cheapest and slowest offline backup solution: USB hard drives

If you can cope with the hours, and possibly days of downtime required to restore TB’s of data from a slow backup drive to your repaired and reformatted online working storage, then you can consider using cheaper consumer USB hard drives for your media backups. However, it’s worth noting that cheap consumer USB hard drives always come with their own risk of failure, even if they aren’t powered up most of the time. It is worth keeping two identical sets of backup drives rather than just one.

More expensive but fast, and most secure offline backup solution: LTO tapes

If you can cope with hours rather than days to restore data from backup, you can consider using LTO tape. A great choice is the mLogic mTape Thunderbolt LTO-8 drive. LTO-8 tapes provide 12TB native capacity per tape, and up to 750MB/sec transfer rate.

That’s fast enough to restore your media quickly. The other advantage of LTO tape is a lifespan of more than 20 years. LTO tape drives are required to have read compatibility for two previous generations of tape. For this reason you might want to consider updating your drive and tapes every third new LTO generation. This requires transferring your older LTO backups onto the newer generation tapes.

Most expensive and fastest (zero downtime): Mirrored online video storage plus backup hard drives or LTO tapes

If you can’t cope with any downtime, the only solution is to maintain an identical mirror of your online storage. However, this is expensive, and doesn’t really count as a long term backup, or disaster recovery solution by itself. It needs to be paired with additional regular backup to offline hard drives or LTO tape.

The Synology DS1817 8-Bay NAS I’ve suggested supports a High Availability configuration that they call SHA (Synology High Availability). When two NAS servers are connected, they can be configured as a cluster. One NAS handles data operations while cloning data to the second passive standby server. If one NAS fails, the other automatically takes over data operations with seamless failover.

The Best File Systems for Video Storage

Not all file systems are created equally. You should always use a journaling file system. Your choice will depend on whether you are primarily running a Windows or Mac environment. If you’re a Mac user, the choice between HFS+ and APFS will depend on whether the storage is solid state or not.

exFAT

ExFAT is a file system created by Microsoft to bridge the gap between NTFS and FAT32. ExFAT can store files larger than 4GB, and is natively supported by both Windows and MacOS.

I don’t recommend ExFAT to be used on any drives. It’s a non-journaling file system and is easily corrupted.

NTFS

NTFS is a Microsoft file system that is secure, reliable and less susceptible to corruption. NTFS is a journalling file system that will withstand sudden interruptions even during write operations.

NTFS can be read by MacOS but write access from a Mac requires a third party software such as Paragon NTFS for Mac.

MacOS Extended

MacOS Extended (HFS+) is the standard file system used by MacOS from 1998 until today for mechanical and hybrid hard drives. APFS has replaced MacOS Extended for solid state and flash storage since MacOS High Sierra.

APFS

APFS is optimized for solid state media and has replaced MacOS Extended for solid state and flash storage. It will also work on mechanical hard drives. APFS is not compatible with MacOS El Capitan or earlier.

Which File System Should You Use?

If you’re a Windows user, and primarily operating in a Windows environment then NTFS is your best choice when formatting all your video storage media.

If you’re primarily a Mac user you should format any spinning disk hard drives, and spinning disk RAID arrays (direct attached or NAS) using MacOS Extended (HFS+). Solid state drives should be formatted APFS.

I recommend that you avoid formatting any drives with ExFAT.

Uninterruptible Power Supply

When you are using any size or configuration of RAID storage, it, and your workstation should be powered through a suitable capacity UPS. During a mains AC power loss for any reason, the batteries in the UPS will automatically keep AC power supply to your storage array and workstation, giving you enough time to safely save your work and power everything down.

10GbE Networking for Office or Home Studio

If you’re considering networked storage you’ll need a 10GbE switch and to run dedicated Cat6a cabling between the switch and storage, and to all all workstations you will have connected. You will need to make sure any PC’s or Mac’s you want connected to the storage have internal 10GbE NIC or an external Thunderbolt to 10GbE interface.

One of the most affordable small switches is the NETGEAR 8-Port 10G Ethernet Smart Managed Plus Switch (XS708E).

10GbE Interfaces

If you’re running a PC, you can get any single or dual port 10GbE NIC such as the Synology 10Gb Ethernet Adapter, or just about any 10GbE NIC you can find.

If you’re a Mac user, and are using an iMac Pro, you’ve got a 10GbE port already. For all other Mac users, I’ve recommended and used the ATTO Thunderlink NT2102 interfaces for years. These are Thunderbolt 2 interfaces and provide two 10GbE ports. You can use a USB-C Thunderbolt 3 to Thunderbolt 2 adapter cable.

The Sonnet Solo10G (Thunderbolt 3 Edition) adapter is a cheaper option and provides one 10GbE RJ45 port.

Buying a DAS or NAS for Video Editing

There are many options for good DAS and NAS RAID enclosures and servers. Too many for me to mention or cover so I am only going to suggest a couple options that I’ve been recommending for some time, and know plenty of happy users.

DAS

Promise Technologies make arguably the most popular direct attached storage for video. The Promise Pegasus 32 series with Thunderbolt 3 and USB 3.2 Gen 2 come in four, six, and eight-bay desktop varieties.

Keep in mind if you configure an R4 four-bay for RAID 5, you will lose one drive worth of usable capacity and 25% of the maximum possible bandwidth. With RAID 5 configuration you will always sacrifice one drive from the array, but the impact on usable capacity and performance is less the more drives there are in the array.

To be honest, I’m not sure the R4 is worth looking at for this reason because I would advise against using it in RAID 0.

  • Promise Pegasus 32 R4 16TB (4x4TB)
  • Promise Pegasus 32 R6 24TB (6x4TB)
  • Promise Pegasus 32 R8 32TB (8x4TB)

NAS

A NAS will give you far more flexibility than a direct attached solution. One of the best entry level NAS solutions for video is the Synology DS1817 8-Bay NAS with 2x 10GbE ports.

I’ve created a table costing out the approximate price per TB for the Synology DS1817 with the Seagate Ironwolf 4TB, 6TB and 8TB hard drives. Nothing changes faster than the prices of IT equipment so check the links for actual current prices.

8x 4TB HDD 8x 6TB HDD 8x 8TB HDD
Raw Capacity 32TB 48TB 64TB
RAID 5 Capacity 28TB 42TB 56TB
Cost Per Raw TB $60 $48 $45
Mirrored $120 $96 $90

Below are some Amazon affiliate links for the Synology 8-Bay NAS I’d recommend you take a look at, also an expansion unit, and some good choices of hard drives. The NAS enclosure itself doesn’t come populated with hard drives, so you’ll need to order 8 of whichever hard drive capacity you choose. It’s worth buying one extra as a hot swap spare.

  • Synology DS1817 8-Bay NAS with 2x 10GbE
  • Synology 5-Bay Expansion Unit DX517 Seagate
  • Ironwolf 4TB NAS Internal Hard Drive Seagate
  • Ironwolf 6TB NAS Internal Hard Drive Seagate
  • Ironwolf 8TB NAS Internal Hard Drive

Buying Individual External Hard Drives & SSD

Common consumer external USB hard drives are the most affordable way to keep backups of your media files from your online storage. However, they do fail, and they are slow if you have to use them to restore data to your online storage for any reason.

I always buy these drives in pairs, and write data to them in pairs just in case one fails.

  • Seagate Backup Plus Portable 4TB

However, these cheap external drives are not suitable to work from directly, you’ll be lucky to get sustained read / write speeds of more than 80MB/sec. I’m also wary of putting them under much continuous stress.

External SSD Drives

If you’re looking for a portable working storage solution, perhaps when you’re travelling, or working on location, you can’t do much better than the Sandisk Extreme Portable SSD drives. There are other excellent external SSD drives but these are rugged, and great value for money. The SanDisk Extreme Portable SSD’s connect with PC and Mac over a USB 3.1 Type C connection, and offer up to 550MB/sec. The Samsung T5 SSD drives are also popular and offer a similar speed.

The below links are affiliate links.

  • SanDisk Extreme Portable 1TB SSD
  • SanDisk Extreme Portable 2TB SSD
  • Samsung T5 1TB SSD
  • Samsung T5 2TB SSD

External SSD drives are perfect portable online storage, if you need more performance, look for NVMe drives such as the Seagate Extreme Pro series of Portable SSD drives. The Sandisk Extreme Pro SSD offers speeds of up to 1050MB/sec over a USB 3.1 Type C connection.

  • SanDisk Extreme Pro Portable 1TB SSD
  • SanDisk Extreme Pro Portable 2TB SSD

If you are using an external SSD to work from, you should also duplicate your media to one, or a pair of external USB hard drives for backup.

Buying Cloud Storage

One of the best decisions you can make is to keep a secure offsite backup of your media on the cloud. Services like BackBlaze have made this more affordable. BackBlaze offers unlimited backup of your computer and external drives for only $6 per month, or $60 per year per computer. External drives have to be mounted at least once every 30 days.

This is an excellent way to maintain an offsite backup of media on your external hard drives. BackBlaze can also ship you a physical hard drive if you need to recover your data as quickly as possible.

BackBlaze also offer Business Backup plans for multiple computers, and offer NAS backup at $5 per month per TB for storage, and $10 per TB for download. This makes BackBlaze B2 Cloud Storage far more affordable than Amazon S3, Microsoft Azure or Google Cloud. What’s more you can sync your Synology NAS directly to BackBlaze B2 cloud storage using Synology Cloud Sync.

The Best Storage for Video Editing

The best storage for video editing is not the same for everyone. You need to assess your needs, against your budget. It’s also important to be aware of how your workflow may expand in the immediate future. This is why I prefer recommending investment in a shared NAS rather than direct attached storage. It works perfectly when networked to only one computer, but gives you the option to add more.

I also highly recommend LTO tape for backup and archive over external USB hard drives. LTO tape is fast, reliable and has a long lifespan. You just need to keep the drive required to read your generation of tapes as they age, or transfer your archives to the latest LTO generation every third new generation.

Lastly, cloud storage is becoming more affordable and is really the ultimate offsite disaster recovery strategy to protect all your video and other files.

Further Reading

The Best GPU for DaVinci Resolve in 2021 | NVIDIA and AMD

Choosing a GPU for DaVinci Resolve can be overwhelming. I’ve listed all the best NVIDIA and AMD GPU options in order of price and performance.

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Kyno Review | Simple and Powerful Media Management for Video Creators

Kyno is simple media management software for video creators. Kyno makes it easy to manage, tag, search and transcode your video files on any storage device.

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The Best Budget Laptops for DaVinci Resolve in 2021 with Thunderbolt

Buying a laptop to run DaVinci Resolve on a $1500 to $2000 budget is easier than you’d think, I’ve selected a few excellent options.

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The Best Low Budget Resolve Monitoring and Video Color Management

Most independent creators overlook monitoring and video color management. Here is a complete low budget DaVinci Resolve monitoring solution for under $2200.

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The Best DaVinci Resolve eGPU Options

Give your Thunderbolt 3 equipped laptop a boost when running DaVinci Resolve with the Blackmagic eGPU, Sonnet eGFX Breakaway Box and eGFX Breakaway Puck.

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AVC / H.264 / HEVC and DaVinci Resolve | Why You Need to Transcode

If you are experiencing poor video playback of AVC / H.264 / HEVC codecs in DaVinci Resolve, here’s what you need to know.

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