educational

Digital Asset Management: Data Protection and Storage

Stephen Yagielowicz

It is a nightmare that will eventually come to pass: your most valuable information, strategic business and financial documents, photo and video content and “master” files, and other data essential to operations is compromised; causing panic for the unprepared.

While software solutions are available for recovering corrupted data and lost files, this after the fact disaster recovery is far less preferable to proactively employing proper tools and workflows for safely preserving digital content and other media assets.

Red Apple Media recommends storing data in private cloud storage or a Video Vault, as the company calls it, which is different than the typical cloud hosting or storage plans that some other companies offer — and more universally accessible than hard disk arrays.

One company that can help content owners is Drobo.com, which offers redundant physical storage systems to serve as part of a reliable digital asset management strategy. These easy-touse, expandable, flexible, and protected hardware solutions allow users to safely store and edit photos and videos, as well as store and back up their personal data.

Among the solutions it provides is the Drobo 5D, which its maker claims redefines professional storage, again. According to the company, the device was redesigned from the ground up to meet the data storage needs of today’s media creators and demanding professionals. Building on the functionality of previous Drobos by raising performance and leveraging cutting-edge Thunderbolt and USB 3.0 connectivity along with the use of solid state drives (SSDs), the Drobo 5D is among the best-performing personal storage arrays available, allowing users at any level to help keep their data safe.

Data backups to external drives are only one part of the equation, however.

“There are additional risk factors beyond a single drive failure that all customers should be aware of,” a Drobo spokesperson explains. “Additional risk factors include but are not limited to accidental file deletion, multiple simultaneous drive failures, file system corruption, viruses, theft, power surges, fire, floods, software and hardware malfunction, earthquakes and of course curious toddlers.”

The company recommends that computer users follow best practices and carefully analyze their digital asset management strategy for risk to help maximize data safety.

For example, Drobo advises against being vulnerable to any single point of failure by ensuring your data exists in a minimum of two separate geographic locations; reminding content owners that they are only as safe as their latest backup, and that failure can occur both in hardware and software. As a result, the company advises users to regularly check to ensure that all firmware and software is up to date and functioning properly; that all of their hardware is functioning properly; and to regularly check the integrity of all backups.

But backup software and hardware systems are only part of a robust solution.

“Please keep in mind the philosophy of digital asset management and remember there’s no one size fits all solution,” the Drobo spokesperson added.

It all comes down to being careful and consistent in your data backup regimen.

“What good is backup hardware if the files on it are out of date?” the Drobo rep asks rhetorically, answering that “The best way to ensure they are up to date is to make the process as simple and painless as possible.”

Redundant local storage using RAID drives, with backups to removable drives and to physical media such as Bluray Discs — which may be stored in a fireproof strong box to keep them safe and secure — while popular options, may not be enough, however; even if copies of those backups are stored off-site, isolating them from any disaster that befalls a facility. And for companies with vast media storage requirements, physical copies may be impractical to make and difficult to store, fueling the search for better backup options.

This situation drives companies to seek out alternative and online storage solutions, particularly as their data archive grows. According to Red Apple Media CTO and co-founder Remik Kolodziej, with the proliferation of adult video content online, rather than images, the amount of storage required grows larger every year.

“High-res and high-def video takes up an enormous amount of space, and if a content provider lost his or her website without backup or redundancy, then he or she is out of business for a long time — or however long it takes to re-encode the original tapes or DVDs,” Kolodziej told XBIZ. “That’s why it’s important to have more than one backup file and have them stored in more than one location. If every file is in one facility and something happens to it, whether a natural disaster, electrical fire or something else, than that company owner is still out of luck.”

Red Apple Media recommends storing data in private cloud storage or a Video Vault, as the company calls it, which is different than the typical cloud hosting or storage plans that some other companies offer — and more universally accessible than hard disk arrays.

“Our private cloud systems are optimized for storing large amounts of data and synchronizing it across multiple locations,” Kolodziej says. “We can host with a client in our San Diego data center and replicate it to one of our other data centers in, say, Phoenix or Amsterdam, and do it on a private connection. That way, if something happens to our San Diego location, our client’s files will be safe and sound with additional backups in multiple physical locations.”

The process may be familiar to users of DropBox or other free file lockers, but these services have a number of disadvantages. For example, protecting user’s privacy is one reason that Red Apple Media does not recommend clients use DropBox or other common web-based personal storage solutions, as the company has discovered that these services typically scan uploaded files to monitor what customers are storing.

“Much like what Google does with Gmail, these programs use this to target customers with marketing specific to their presumed interests,” Kolodziej explains. “These types of services have the ability to data mine everything in an account, and it’s not a good idea to give them access to that kind of personal information.”

This privacy aspect is particularly import for those wanting to protect an adult content library from digital dangers, as well as for anyone with sensitive information to secure.

“The best solution that Red Apple Media offers for digital asset management is private cloud storage or Media Vaults on separate servers that are not accessible directly from the Internet,” Kolodziej concludes. “No open source, no public FTP — this kind of protection makes unauthorized access 100 percent impossible.”

It is the kind of data security and peace of mind that allows information managers and content providers to sleep better at night, free from fear.

At the end of the day, having a robust data protection strategy can involve redundant local backups combined with the failsafe storage solutions that Red Apple Media offers — whatever it takes to keep your business running in the face of a digital disaster.

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