To be honest, we don’t hate hard drives – not all of them, not all the time. What we really hate is people and companies using drive after drive to store all their digital content assets. Here’s why.

You can’t trust hard drives. They’re like Glenn Close in Fatal Attraction. They look good, they sound like they should be easy, but beware! In the end, they create havoc and destruction.

Watch this blog as a video – or scroll down the page for the full article.

1. Hard drives fail

Data shows that 5.1% of hard drives fail within 18 months. Just over 20% fail within 4 years.

That’s fine if you’re using them for your current project and then backing up onto another medium. (We use and recommend LTO, with a lifespan of 30 years.) It’s not so good if you’re backing up onto a hard drive and assuming you’ll be able to use that backup at a later date.

By the way, that 20% fail rate is for hard drives being used in RAID setups. If you disconnect hard drives, they tend to fail even faster. You could plug them all back in every year or two and refresh them – but who has the time to do that?

Source: Backblaze

There’s variation between hard drives. Spinning disks are even less reliable than solid state ones. But none of them score well for long term backup and archiving.

In one recent job we ingested into MediaPhile, our digital asset management system, 2 of 54 legacy hard drives failed. If only we’d had those drives sooner, we’d have ingested the content and made two LTO copies. So even if for some reason one failed, the content wouldn’t have been lost.

2. Hard drives get lost

Hard drives are small. They’re portable. People take them out and plug them into their own devices when they need the content. They mean to put them back in the main storage cupboard when they’re done, but they don’t always manage it. They stick hard drives in a drawer, or forget them in the car. Or leave them on the train.

Even if the drive does turn up somewhere, the chances you’ll still be able to access the content on it are low. These drives have been dropped. Got damp. Experienced static discharge. All things which make them even more likely to fail.

3. You can’t tell what’s on a hard drive

If you’re lucky, the drive is labelled and you can read the writing. But you still have to take out all the hard drives you’ve got stored in the cupboard and read labels until you find the right one. Then put all the wrong ones back again, so they don’t get lost. (See above.)

Media asset management systems like MediaPhile show images as well as file names, so you can find specific content quickly. Extensive search options help too.

4. Only one person can access a hard drive at any one time

Unless you put them in a NAS or RAID. But those are expensive solutions to store all your historic content, which you’re not using every day.

5. You have connectivity and compatibility problems

We all know Windows and MAC don’t talk nicely. Then there’s the added complication of connecting external hard drives to various devices. Firewire, Thunderbolt, ESATA – it’s another level of complication which can go wrong.

Wouldn’t it be easier to use an online system which serves up content across all system setups?

6. Hard drives are expensive

You need hard drives which are rugged enough to survive shooting conditions. They’re going to cost you approximately $100 per terabyte.

The more content you create, the more money you have tied up in hard drives. And the more time and effort you spend finding the right one when you need to access historic content.

Is there anything good about hard drives?

Many of our clients choose to cycle their hard drives as a capture and transfer system. Use them to store data for live projects. Then use them to transfer that data to us at Preferred Media. (For those without huge internet bandwidth, this is often quicker than uploading.) We ingest and archive all the files, then return the original drive to their resource pool for reuse.

Avoid temptation

Escape the hard drive drama with MediaPhile. MediaPhile is an end-to-end digital asset management solution that puts you in control of your content. Delivering a secure managed archive with an online DAM platform, MediaPhile can help you reduce reliance on hard drives.