We’re going to need a bigger boat

When this podcast first started, it became immediately clear that storage was going to be an issue. The podcast was captured on a GoPro Hero3 Black and being a purist, each episode was released in stunning 1080p HD quality. The resulting file sizes were 1gb to 4gb which nearly broke everything but we made it work with a few tweaks.

The first thing that happens when you start working with a video podcast where file size could be an issue, you start getting really careful with storage. I’m a firm believer of the 321 Backup system in which the 3 stands for 3 copies of your data. If you’re working with a 4gb episode, that’s 12gb of overall storage plus the copy on the server for a total of 16gb of storage spread all over the place. Keeping all of that video organized and accessible was an immediate challenge.

The solution to the challenge presented itself as a Drobo 5D, BackBlaze, some automation and here is why. If you’ve not familiar, Drobo is an external hard drive on steroids. The version I purchased has 5 storage bays that allow you to add and remove hard drives of different capacities. This version also supports the Apple Thunderbolt technology which allows for super high speed bi-directional transfer of files over a cable. In addition it has a slightly slower USB 3.0 cable that allows for a connection to our home Airport TimeCapsule. This means I can move a ton of video really fast when connected, but retain the convenience of file access over wifi just a marginal decrease in speed,  With this setup, all files are also available at slow speed over the internet. Backblaze was selected as the offsite backup because they cover your computer for $5/mo with no additional cost for your Drobo. If you have a 128gb MacBook Air and a 14TB Drobo, this is an easy decision to make.

Here is how the basic workflow would happen:

  • Import of unedited video from the memory card would be dragged to my laptop for viewing.
  • Once on the laptop the memory card would be cleaned and returned to the GoPro.
  • Videos were tagged based on the route name, color, gym, and success or failure of the climb.
  • A program called Hazel was used to take the video files and move them to the Drobo and automatically sort in folders by date and subfolders by the tags assigned.
  • Videos for further editing potential would be copied to a folder based on tagging.
  • Once completed, the finished video and poster frame image would be added to the Drobo and uploaded to the server based on the same folder structure.
  • The video would be posted to WordPress, cross posted on Twitter and Facebook automatically.

With this workflow in place, all videos are easy to find and redundantly backed up on a locally and remotely accessible storage drive,  This system also ensures the files are backed up on a RAID drive with dual disk redundancy with an additional copies on BackBlaze and the web server Dreamhost.com. In case you’re counting, we are now up to a total of 4 copies, with two offsite.

At one time we had planned to cross-post videos natively on Facebook and Vimeo which would add two offsite copies but the time involved for this strategy seemed like overkill. Not to mention, the commercial music in our videos made Facebook really cranky.

Since the project started, we’ve downgraded video quality to 720p which has saved a ton of space and time but the lessons learned working with larger files was worth the work. Especially if we ever start offering different podcast channels for audio, 720p, 1080p, and 4k for our users. I hope this experience helps you approach the daunting task of redundant video storage for your video podcast. Truly, video podcasts are an entirely different animal than audio podcasts and these factors should be considered.

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