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SOHO Profile | Active Communications

Multimedia demands feed the need for mega-storage options

By Lynn Haber

Tablet PCs may be great for on-the-go presentations and cloud-based applications, but back-end needs and support are also critical when it comes to any client-based device.

Dan Hnatio, founder and executive director at Active Communications, a SOHO media production company based in Stow, MA, is looking to eventually add tablets to his equipment roster, but for now is more concerned with storage needs. He is attracted to the Apple iPad, since it has several media-friendly applications, and will most likely go for that or another tablet PC when the time is right.

For now, however, the company is focusing on its core business activities, which include producing web video, educational and training videos, engaging in event, meeting and conference projects, and doing broadcast field production and short and feature length films – all of which demand high-capacity and reliable storage.

\”I can buy 3 terabytes of internal disk storage for less than $200. At that price the disk is almost free and the mean time between failures is high,\” he says. In his business, tape storage is no longer king.

Whether looking for internal hard drives or external storage for active jobs and temporary archiving, or for storage media to deliver projects to clients, Hnatio continues to buy more capacity for less cost.

The most common storage purchases he makes are for internal and external hard drives and USB flash drives.

In his studio that’s equipped with two Mac Pro G4s, two Mac Pro G5s and a MacBook Pro 17 running Final Cut Pro, Hnatio’s main video editing machine, the G5, has two 3TB drives with another 5-6 TB of external storage using a FireWire serial connector. One internal 2TB drive is filled up about every three months.

\”We recently retired one 2TB Maxtor drive and replaced it with a 3TB drive we bought several weeks ago for less than $200,\” says Dan, who also buys drives from Seagate and Western Digital.

He was going to buy a second unit but is holding off because he expects that by mid-year vendors will be offering 4-5-6TBs for the same price. \”Storage prices are wonderful,\” he says.

Hnatio copies all video data to the external drives that he gets from the same manufacturers. \”I can move HD video to a 60GB external hard drive that costs $100 and is big enough to hold a typical project,\” he says.

Thumb drives, with no parts to lose, are a real convenience in Hnatio’s business. He sometimes uses them to move photographs from one machine to another or to deliver a project such as a five-minute video or for mailing.

Following storage industry trends, thumb drives are increasing in capacity and falling in price, there are low, medium and high quality products available to meet his specific project delivery needs.

While Hnatio points out that he can buy a 2GB thumb drive for $4, he can also buy one for $25. \”I often go for the commodity product of the day, buy a handful and use them up,\” says Hnatio.

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