The Cloud Is Great – But a Hybrid Storage Solution Could Be Better


Running out of storage or having your media get corrupted may be your worst nightmare when working with digital media, whether you are a photographer, videographer, musician or gamer. At best it puts you behind several hours to your last saved copy, and at its worst it could mean a lost client. Storage is cheap, and unless something happens to manufacturing facilities, the price is only going down. Even if you have your own backup solution on-site, there are still physical disasters that can occur, such as fire or theft. This is where the true benefits of cloud-storage solutions really begin to shine.

The Benefits

The largest single advantage to having someone else look after your data is that they don’t have to think about anything but protecting the integrity of the data that is entrusted to them. The more time you have to think about the logistical side of your media business, the less time you get to actively work on your projects or plan for the next job.

Nearly every cloud storage service, such as Dropbox and SOS Online Backup, lets you schedule how you want your backups to occur. The safest way is to let it run constantly in the background, so whenever you add files they begin to copy immediately. However, this isn’t always practical because it can take up a large chunk of your bandwidth. A scheduled backup time tends to be the best and most practical option because it enables you to stay up to date while also limiting it to when you naturally have low bandwidth use, such as when you are asleep. Not having to think about whether your backup is going to be safe or not is what makes an automatic system useful.

The Downsides

The only real downside to having your data off-site is the time required to upload it or to bring it back. An average photographer can take as few as 20 photos or upward of 2,000 depending on what the job requires. This can translate to a few megabytes to several gigabytes for every job. And if you are shooting any video, that number is going to expand exponentially.

Depending on your Internet speeds and how much data you have, this process can be painless or painful. However, the same can be said for accessing your original or on-site backup data. Download speeds are much higher on average than upload speeds, thanks to streaming services like Netflix and Spotify. Some services are also able to send you a hard drive or flash drive that contains your data for a fee. This may be a better solution if you need the data relatively quickly.

The Middle Ground

While there are many benefits to cloud storage, you may not want to switch completely over to a cloud-based storage system. Although there are relatively few downsides, mainly being the speed at which you can store or recover your files, having the instant access that an in-house system provides is extremely useful. As with many situations, the middle road tends to be the most beneficial overall.


This is a post by Aaron Foster, a Phoenix-based film maker and photographer. He has worked on projects ranging from short films to commercials.