Removable Hard Drives
This will be the mainstream buzz word for 2003. For a while now the professional music community has been working with expensive systems like those from Glyph, which can cost upwards to $1,000. But these days at Fry’s in Burbank I see far lower cost FireWire removable disk drive housings (priced around $90 for each house, plus a higher fee for the card system this connects with).
Pro audio and video people need these, of course, because they may have to carry their work with them from Los Angeles to London. In the old days we carted 2” master tapes around. I remember seeing an assistant engineering up at the Oakland airport moving a two-wheeler filled with Ampex 456 2” masters. These were coming from Los Angeles and going to Fantasy Records studios. Instead, today’s engineer or producer carries a Western Digital or Seagate hard drive around in a metal case that protects it from static shocks. They wire it into the studio computer using a standard interface – hence the amount of Glyph units you will find as they were primarily designed for the entertainment industry.
A few months ago I wouldn’t have seen a reason to switch drives, but getting into video work on the computer I see how easily it can be to run up 80 GB of files while working on one 22 minute show! Imagine if you do this for other people or do several shows in a row!
While you can certainly transfer these files back to DV or Digital 8 there is a build up of errors and noise with each file transfer, so to keep your originals safe it would be best to archive them on hard disk! Especially with the low price of disks – you can get a Western Digital 60 MB drive for $100 if you look carefully! That’s enough to do one half hour show at best!
There are several interfaces in use. Internally your computer generally uses either a SCSI or ATA protocol connector, both of which are very fast. For external removable drives, however, we generally find either the FireWire, which is a modest speed transfer protocol and USB which is a slow speed protocol. While USB might be good enough for audio work or web quality video files, it is generally too slow for 720 interlaced 30 FPS full motion video which requires 4 MB per second continuous transfer rates. So if you are doing video work you need to look at the FireWire supported cases.
The special interface provided sends power to the external drive and provides the FireWire based data transfer conduit. FireWire is not as fast as ATA-5 or 6 protocols nor SCSI, but since FireWire is used to transfer digital images from source to source, for video needs this is the primary choice and for audio users this will be far more than you will need for the most demanding multi-track sessions!
We are still looking at a start-up cost of $300 for all the components to house and transfer the drive information (not including cost of the hard drive you will install into the container) and under $100 for each additional drive container.
As more and more home users do video work or even games, still images and MP3 files they may find it easier just to deal with an exchange of drives. This is also useful for family households in which each person can have their own second drive with programs and file stored, leaving the main drive to handle just Windows, Linux or Mac OS and some common programs like an “Office”, browser and media player. But instead of cluttering up the main drive with your Kazaa downloads it would go to the secondary drive connected to the FireWire and you take this with you after your turn on the system is finished!
At a cost of $200 for the container and drive you will see this is far more cost effective than ZIP, Jazz or CD-R write disk. There is no set-up time. No transfer time. No data loss from errors or media destruction. No loss of your time dealing with burning a CD-R.
This is also good for the business person who can take part of their office home with them by using an external drive. Whole databases can be worked with without having to transfer them to your lap top.
Storage is easy. Each drive is safely tucked inside a metal or hard plastic case with only a connector showing at back (and this is cabled to the drive inside the case). The drives are sealed air tight. You need only have a rack or cupboard to stack your various hard drive cases, each labeled so you know what is on the drive.