Project back-ups (archives) are a high-touch, high-risk, low-reward proposition for studios. Without the scale to invest in expensive digital asset management systems (and the people to run them), studios are often stuck with “home-rolled” solutions. A typical solution might be a File Maker database and file backup to drives or proprietary physical media. Mechanical drives have a high failure rate so are not at all suitable for long-term storage. Physical media (AIT, Exabyte, DVD-RAM or Blue-Ray) have better long-term performance, but expose you to the risk of obsolesce which means keeping and maintaining playback hardware.

Archiving digital files is an active process, simply creating a copy of something is not “archiving it”.

Taking a step back, there is a more basic reason why these types of solutions are inadequate. Archiving digital files is an active process and simply creating a copy is not “archiving it”. The baseline requirement of digital archiving is data integrity. Bit decay, (deterioration in the performance and integrity of data), is a phenomenon that exists across all storage media. Its causes include everything from hardware failure, to normal wear, dust or other contaminants, background radiation and high heat. Insuring long‐term data integrity requires both passive and active steps. Passive steps include (a) multiple copies of a file being stored on separate devices to protect against hardware failure, (b) copies of the file stored in a separate geographic location to protect against catastrophe and (c) a cryptographic hash (check-sum) of the file being calculated and stored in a database.  The active step is periodically reading the back file, calculating a check-sum and comparing to the master checksum to ‘verify’ data integrity. If the check-sums do not match, the file is replaced by the second or third stored copy. With this in mind, it’s pretty clear that most studios don’t have the resources and technical horsepower to take this on internally.

Certified Archives storage architecture uses Azure’s geo‐redundant feature meaning three (3) copies of each file are stored on different servers, then replicated to another Azure data center in a secondary region and files are continuously ‘verified’.

Certified Archives brings the massive investment in cloud storage infrastructure to Studios in a low-cost easy to use system.

Murat Aktar

Author Murat Aktar

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