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4 Hard Drives For Managing Videos In The Field

Managing large media files on the road can be challenging when wifi goes in-and-out and conditions aren’t the friendliest to delicate…
4 Hard Drives For Managing Videos In The Field
Camera gear and the orange LaCie Rugged RAID hard drive.

Managing large media files on the road can be challenging when wifi goes in-and-out and conditions aren’t the friendliest to delicate pieces of equipment. As a freelancer working solo, protecting and backing up your footage and audio is key to your livelihood — failure isn’t really an option. Here is the rundown on the best ways to backup your files.

Cloud Services vs. External Hard Drives

Cloud services like iDrive ($3.71/month), Backblaze ($5.00/month), SugarSync ($9.99/month), Dropbox ($9.99/month), and Google Drive ($1.99/month) can go with you everywhere while giving you file-sharing flexibility and almost unlimited storage, provided you can get to an internet source. However, if assignments often take you off the beaten path, external storage is a necessity.

External hard drives offer the benefit of a one-time upfront cost without the recurring subscription and bandwidth-usage fees that come with cloud storage. Some drives even come with personal cloud software as a package that is more cost effective than cloud-based services for storing and sharing files.

Ideally, you should backup your media files in a cloud service as well as on an external hard drive, but location and cost usually dictate what is possible, so it’s important to make the right choice when it comes to investing in file storage.

A hard disk drive.

Types of Hard Drives

Compared to traditional Hard Disk Drives (HDD), Solid State Drives (SSDs) are typically more resistant to physical shock, run silently, have lower access time, and lower latency. They are small, extra portable, and fast, but usually offer a smaller amount of storage — around 500GB to 1TB. There are SSDs that can store as much as the average hard disk drive (HDD), but these models are more expensive. Like a USB drive, an SSD stores information in microchips which makes them incredibly fast and durable. Conversely, a hard disk drive uses a mechanical arm to move around and read information from a storage platter, making it more likely to fail sooner.

If you want to pump your hard drive full of several countries worth of footage, you may want to invest in an HDD or RAID hard drive. RAIDs have extremely fast read and write speeds with a huge amount of storage because they use multiple hard drives. More moving parts means more wear and tear, but there is little doubt that RAID and HDD systems will give you the most bang for your buck. While 1TB of memory on a HDD costs around $50, 1TB on an SSD costs upwards of $300. With glowing reviews from B&H Photo customers, here are the top rated hard drives on the market:

  1. Samsung 850 EVO 2.5-Inch SATA III Internal SSD (500GB for $164.99): An extremely fast and reliable model with a five-year warranty, this Samsung SSD is not only good for storing pictures and speedily downloading videos, but it can actually speed up your entire computer — a faster data drive means faster boot times, faster program loading times, and more responsiveness in programs that use large files like video editing or RAW photo editing. If you’re a single editor working on a reasonably sized project, this SSD drive may be the best choice for you.
  2. The Western Digital My Passport Ultra (2TB for $89.99): The Western Digital My Passport Ultra is a reliable external hard drive with features that make it more attractive than buying a basic model, such as its 256-bit hardware encryption for securing your files. At roughly 4x5x1/2 inches this HDD easily slips into a carry-on or laptop bag and only costs $0.06 per gigabyte.
  3. G-Technology G-DRIVE USB 3.0 External Hard Drive (2 to 6TB starting at $149.95): A company geared towards audio/visual professionals who value performance and reliability, G-Technology’s hard drives are popular with freelancers in the field. This hard drive provides a choice of 2TB to 6TB of storage in a compact body that can be used on a desktop or on the road. A MAC plug-and-play, it is easily reformatted for Windows, making it a solid choice for video freelancers.
  4. LaCie Rugged RAID (4TB for $374.00): Built for the road, the LaCie Rugged RAID gives you extra room for storage and is designed to withstand drops, dust, and water splashes. The Rugged RAID trades a little bit of overall performance for a much larger capacity, but if you carry a lot of raw videos or photos around, it’s a good compromise. At 10 cents per gigabyte, you pay a little more for a tough and speedy drive that can handle a long haul.

What other hard drives have you used while working in the field? Let us know in the comments!

By Jindalae Suh