Four days ago I dropped my main external HDD. "HDD" stands for "hard disc drive", which basically means there's a spinning disk and an arm that flies back and forth incredibly fast, and all those moving parts allow you to read or write files to be used on your computer. This is different than a modern-day SSD (solid state drive) which uses no moving parts, is more expensive, but is also more likely to survive a fall from 4 feet. Well, after dropping my external hard drive, I plugged it into my computer and noticed a clicking sound coming from it. Later I learned that techie people call this the "click of death."

I immediately began to shop around for reputable companies that could pull the data I had stored on the HDD off of it, since my computer couldn't connect with it. After a phone call with one company that bolstered a whopping 96% success rate on their data recovery, I shipped my hard drive off to be fixed. They took it apart in their lab, wrote diagnostics into an email, and sent that to me. Apparently, I severely damaged the little arm inside which is meant to fly back and forth really fast. Also, when I picked the dropped hard drive up off the floor and plugged the drive into my computer, the bent arm inside scratched the disk plate slightly. So things aren't looking too good... But this company (called: "secure data recovery") quoted me $3480 to proceed with fixing the drive...

I told them to charge the $30 to ship it back to me. I'll just have to say goodbye to a little over 2000 GigaBytes of video files. Those video files include roughly 9 projects I had filmed with various people but hadn't been edited yet. And this incident got me thinking, what is the best way to back up my files so that this doesn't happen again?

Local, Physical Backups

Something I've never done before, but I've heard everyone talk about is to never buy hard drives in "ones". Always buy them in "two's" and use the second one as a backup for everything that's on the first. I never did this though because I didn't want to spend twice the money on hard drives and I already hate offloading and organizing files enough. Thinking of having to do twice as much offloading and organization of my files didn't sound fun to me.

To put this conundrum into perspective, instead of spending $90 on a single 4TeraByte drive (4000 GigaBytes), I'd spend $180 for two. And instead of spending 10-20 minutes here and there managing my files, I'd spend 20-40.

Looking back on those last few sentences, I've been pretty lazy and I've lacked the proper priority list. I only now know this to be true since I've lost 2TB worth of files, and I'm still feeling it.

Even still, I don't see local, physical backups as a solution moving forward. I will probably need dozens of hard drives in the future, I don't want twice as many hard drives to be sitting in my house. So I started looking into online backup solutions.

The Online Solution

There are many companies that allow you to backup a TON of files online. These aren't companies like dropbox. Dropbox wouldn't view me as an ideal customer because I'm an actively working videographer who captures a TeraByte of footage per week sometimes. Their target audience is someone who takes photos and videos recreationally and wants to share those or store those. I wanted to find a way to get access to 100-200TB for cheap, and I found Backblaze. This service allows you to have an unlimited number of files backed up on their servers, but you have to have the physical device counterpart plugged in at least once every 30 days. Any files disconnected for more than 30 days will tell their server it's been trashed, and then they permanently delete the files from their systems.

So now I had a new problem, I might theoretically go a whole month without plugging one of my hard drives in, while connected to the internet to connect with Backblaze. I need to find a hard drive solution that stays plugged in all the time to ensure the safety of my precious files! And then I discovered NAS (network-attached storage). This is the last step in my problem-solving, I swear.

NAS, The Best Of The Best?

I only first heard about NAS today, so I have more to learn about it. It seems to be fairly expensive, so I might be looking at a new thing to put on my wish list. But with a NAS setup, I could edit videos on any computer in my house - or even access files from a Starbucks so long as I'm on wifi - and I could access the same files no matter if I'm on a Mac computer or a Windows PC. This seems like a superman solution, I'm really tempted to buy nothing else and save up for this setup.

What I'm reading about today is that I can buy 10gbps speeds for my NAS setup, and that would allow me to edit 10bit, 4k, 4:2:0 video without any hiccups. Though I don't know yet if it would bottleneck my new, seemingly all-powerful PC when doing 3D edits in Blender. And until I learn more about that, I won't be making any decisions just yet.

But nevertheless, it's funny how I've been doing computer stuff and video work for four years now, and yet it's so easy to not know about all this cool tech available. It seems that there's always something new out there to learn.

And of course, it takes dropping a hard drive to open my eyes to all these cool backup solutions.