Mail Call: Video Archive Drives for DIY NAS

With the tax return comes the more expensive projects that exceed the normal monthly budget of The Frugal Filmmaker. This time it was two 5TB external hard drives that I purchased for a video archive that I'm setting up. They arrived today from Newegg.

When I created the Blu-ray Archive video, I got a lot of comments about how unreliable the format is. Several people also mentioned using NAS (Networked Attached Storage), which consists of a drive (or drives) in a special enclosure. I liked the dual drive enclosures as they could be set up as a mirrored RAID, with both drives being copies of each other. If one drive fails, you replace it and the data is restored by the copy.

The only problem I can see with any NAS (other than time) is "catastrophic failure". Since the drives are right next to each other, they are both susceptible to proximity threats like a fire. If one drive is consumed, the second will likely go with it.

So what I wanted was the benefits of NAS without the higher cost or likelihood of mutal destruction. This is why I have the two separate drives of equal size. One will be connected to our main computer that is always on and sits in our living room, connected to a widescreen TV. The clone will be connected another item coming in the mail that will allow me to keep it far as possible from the first drive, thus improving the odds of a proximity attack.

How will I do this (hint: it's not another computer)? And how will I mirror the first drive onto the second? More details when the next package arrives...


Dear Frugal;
I see your point, up to a point, about the likelihood of disaster if the items are close by one another. As a content producer I understand what it is like to lose a bucket load of data irretrievably.

Changing hats to the IT Consultant
However, I can tell you that when the lightning strikes, as it often does, not only can you lose your data, but the physical hardware that you use to access it.

What you need is defence in depth.

I'll give you an example of what I currently run at home:
IT Gear General:
Server - Windows Domain - authentication, access control, Exchange, etc
Internal storage is:
1 x 500Gb RAID 1 array (2 drives)
1 x 1TB RAID 1 array (2 drives)
2 x 500GB External USB hard drives (Day 1 & Day 2) backup drives

1 Synology RS812 NAS unit
3 x 3TB Western Digital (WD) Red NAS drives ( - read more about them here - that are in RAID 5 for just under 6TB of RAID 5 storage (I also have a hot spare in case one of the them fails).
1 x 3TB USB External USB hard drives - NAS backup device
1 x 2TB USB External USB hard drives - NAS backup device

On top of that there are laptop and desktop computers throughout the house, an iPad, several tablets and smart phones all with access back to the server, network and storage in and out of the house (via the internet).

In case of a fire, part of our fire management plan is to recover is the backup devices (where safe to do so).

When we build our new home in a couple of years, the current NAS box will be relegated to back up status and a new NAS box will take it's place in the house. The old NAS will be moved to the garage/studio/office and will replicate the data off the main NAS continually. Thus data is in more than one place, and the backups will continue to be my failover in case the worst happens. And there'll be one on each of the NAS boxes to ensure that I can get a backup no matter what.

However, none of that matters if a power surge kills everything in the house. So each of the devices is connected to an Uninterruptable Power Supply (UPS) designed to stabilise power to the electronics attached to them. I can only suggest that no matter what route you take a UPS should be on both units.

Remember it is defence in depth that matters. If you can manage it, and even I don't, take a copy offsite and put it in a safe deposit, or some other secure offsite location (not your bag in your car for example). Then you'll be as safe as you can be.

Sorry for the ramble. It's Friday and I'm feeling cheeky.

Andrew Martin