TV-BAY January 2013

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Ask the experts bank. Faster 10,000rpm SATA drives are also available up to 1TB in size. External/Archive/Backup – These drives do what they say on the tin. They are used to backup, store, archive projects ‘away’ from the workstation allowing the main project/ data storage to be freed up for live project tasks. Speed of these drives is not massively important so standard 7,200rpm SATA based drives connected over FireWire of USB3.0 is sufficient. Data archive/backup is a separate discussion on its own so for anything larger than a single user studio environment please consider dedicated automated backup/archive solutions. NB: To work with high resolution, uncompressed and stereoscopic projects you’ll need both capacity and speed. The use of a number of data storage drives, configured in a performance RAID array is the best way forward here. High speed RAID 0, with 4+ drive configurations (8TB) are recommended for modern video professionals (with faster, higher capacity solutions tailored for specific client needs). What is RAID, and will I need it? RAID stands for redundant array of independent disks, and is basically the use of a number of dedicated hard disk drives to increase hard disk performance, provide levels of redundancy (to cover data loss in the event of a hard disk drive failure) or both. RAID can be configured in a number of different states that include RAID 0, 1, 0+1, 3, 5, 5+0, 6, 6+0, and JBOD. The use of RAID in a modern digital video workstation is very common, and configurations of RAID 0 (for performance), RAID 1 (for redundancy) or RAID 0+1 (Performance + Redundancy) are most popular. If your projects are regularly edited in uncompressed format, or you need ASK OUR EXPERTS to play back completed projects in high resolution (1K+) then the need for RAID 0 (or a Striped RAID array as it is also known) with a minimum of 4x hard disk drives is highly recommended. This type of configuration will provide 4x the capacity, plus up to 4x the performance of a single standard alone drive; however as data is ‘striped’ across all hard drives if you were unlucky enough to experience a single physical hard drive failure you would lose the contents of all 4x hard disk drives (this is where your archive/ backup drives play their role). I would always recommend the use of a dedicated hardware RAID controller (to manage and control the RAID array) plus the use of enterprise class ‘RAID edition’ hard disk drives (that are designed to operate in high performance RAID configurations) for maximum system performance and reliability. What operating system is best? This might see a fairly trivial question, but you’d be surprised how many people fall at the last hurdle and make what should be a great computer workstation a bit of a dogs dinner, by choosing the incorrect operating system. Always stick with the professional/ business editions from Microsoft (PC platforms only of course) and it is 64Bit all the way (you’ll need 64Bit to address more than 4GB of available system RAM). Check out what is certified/recommended by your main software applications (Adobe, Avid, Grass Valley, and Sony etc) and always follow the herd, and never be the guinea pig. Time is expensive and you’ll find software ‘bugs’ very hard to diagnose, report and resolve quickly (especially if you have very few people on the same operating system platform as you). Microsoft Windows 8 is a great example here. POST YOUR QUESTION ONLINE: Search ‘tvbay’ Make sure you always apply the very latest security/service packs and bring the operating system fully up to date before you start to install any video applications. This might sound like hard work, but is time well spent at the start, with save countless hours later on Top Tip Micro allow soft’s you to downgrade rights purchase Windows 8 with a new workstation today, downgrade and run (fully licenced) Windows 7 for as long as you need to, then move over/back to Windows 8 at a later date; all for no additional cost. What warranty package is included? After sales, service and support is generally only experienced once you have a problem so worth thinking ahead before the unexpected happens. It is worth noting that not all hardware warranty packages are the same. Is it engineer on-site, parts on-site, return to base, collect and return, 1 year, 2 years, 3years or more? What is the response time, what parts are covered, is it labour only in the 2nd and 3rd years? Do they offer solution/software assistance? (Often only offered by the more specialist suppliers), or a mixture of all the above. Time is money, so any down time (however caused) can be costly. It is worth spending a few minutes to read warranty small print to make sure that you are covered should the unexpected happen. About the author Mike Leach is an experienced IT professional working as a Systems Specialist for UK based computer systems manufacturer ‘Workstation Specialists’. Comments and opinions in this article are his own and may not represent Workstation Specialists’ positions, strategies or opinions. Tel. +44 (0)1635 237 237 Email. 46 | TV-BAY MAGAZINE TV-BA073JAN13.indd 46 11/01/2013 14:17