How to Safely Back Up Your Video Production

  • September 20, 2013
  • News

It started off as a thought that would occasionally gnaw at my mind, robbing me of my sense of peace. Before I knew it, it was occupying all my waking moments. How could it be that hours worth of high definition video could fit on a tiny card? And what would happen if the card failed? Or got lost? Or stolen, in a daring heist?

Let me reveal how I came to embrace my compulsion, and how its helped me sleep better at night!

Listen to the audio version: 

If you’re in the business of collecting and storing large amounts of digital information like me, you realise the risk that inadequate safety and backup processes can bring. This is why I’ve become fanatical about ensuring that redundancy is built into every stage of Dream Engine’s video production process.

Recording to two different sources

So, when we’re shooting, we always record to two different sources: A card, like the one pictured above to the left, as well as an external solid-state hard drive, pictured above to the right. Now this card is pretty robust, and has never failed me yet – but there’s a first time for everything!

At the end of the shoot, all of the footage gets copied to a massive, heavy-duty drive. These are RAID drives, which stands for Redundant Array of Inexpensive Discs. Which is a misnomer – the discs aren’t that inexpensive! But it’s whole lot cheaper than going out and having to do the shoot again.

The cool thing about a RAID drive is that it spreads the material across 5 independent drives within the unit. And it backs them up. That way, if one of the drives should fail, it automatically rebuilds the missing material, and we can keep on working.

Now this gave me some peace of mind. But what if the RAID unit is stolen, or spontaneously combusts, or is abducted by aliens?

Our Big Backup device

We came up with the ingenious solution of copying all of the material onto a second drive, imaginatively called “Big Backup’, which we take offsite at the end of every day. Meanwhile, project files are backed up to a cloud drive. We use Dropbox, which means that we have multiple backups of our projects at all times.

Sites like YouTube are a way to host video but the quality isn’t great so it’s not ideal as a backup, check out our comparison of YouTube Vs other video hosting services but remember that hard copies or cloud storage is best.

Taking our backed-up footage off site

At the end of the project, all of the media in the video gets duplicated onto two of the drives you can see above. One goes home with me, whilst the other one is locked into a fireproof safe. We’re currently looking into securing the services of a crack squad of military veterans to guard the fireproof safe at gunpoint. Overkill? Probably. But it means I can sleep better at night knowing that my client’s materials are safely stored and backed up.

And that’s how I learnt to stop worrying, and embrace my compulsion. The question for you is: What would happen if your computer stopped working right now? Would your data be protected? And what impact would it have on your clients? Or your boss? Or your state of mind?

If you need help with video production, or obsessive thoughts, contact me and I’ll be happy to help.


 Ryan Spanger


Ryan Spanger is one of Melbourne’s most respected and sought-after video production professionals. Ryan founded Dream Engine in 2001, and specializes in helping medium to large corporates, government departments, and the non-profit sector to connect with their audience by using video.

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Based in St. Kilda, Melbourne, Dream Engine is comprised of a small, close-knit team of energetic video production professionals.

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