Bus Powered Hard Drives ok for Video Editing?

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by Mr-Stabby, Jul 30, 2007.

  1. Mr-Stabby macrumors 6502

    Sep 1, 2004

    A quick question if i may.

    I am a Techie at a local school, and we do basic video editing in Final Cut Express. All our students have external Hard Drives, and so far we've been ok because we purchased enough AC adaptors to go on every mac (over 100 of them) and so there was no trouble tying the plugs to the machines so they don't get lost or stolen, and every student can go on any machine with no troubles.

    Now though we're getting higher student numbers, and unfortunately that Hard Drive model isn't made anymore, and it uses a rather obscure plug so i can't buy a Hard Drive case that uses the same plug.

    It would be a nightmare having to buy over 100 plugs again for whatever Hard Drive we would purchase, it would clog up the desks big time. and there's no way we'd let students plug in their own Hard Drives, we learnt that the hard way last year when we lost 30 hard drives a term through power surge!

    One of the options i've come across if bus powered Firewire Hard Drives which Formac sell. These look very tempting, and would suit us quite nicely.

    Just wondered if anyone had any opinions on them, would they be ok for basic video editing? I'm guessing they'd work at the same speed as a laptop Hard Drive. The odd bit of Photoshop work might be saved on them too. Since they're Firewire and not USB i'm guessing there'd be no lag on video capturing either. Any thoughts?
  2. Foxglove9 macrumors 68000


    Jan 14, 2006
    New York City
    Why not just network all the computers and run a TB Hard Drive off a server that the students can access. That would elimate the external drive all together.
  3. Igantius macrumors 65816

    Apr 29, 2007
    They would be fine for video editing - more reliable than USB.
  4. Flyinace2000 macrumors 6502a


    Sep 28, 2004
    Depending on his network that may not be an option. BUT you cold do what we did at my college. Large RAID attached to the server then have students copy down their projects to a "work" drive (a partition or another ineternal/external drive). Have them work of the that drive then when they are done they would re-upload back ot the server.
  5. northernmunky macrumors 6502a


    Jan 19, 2007
    London, Taipei
    I've just bought a 120Gb dual USB and Firewire external bus powered drive. Works great over firewire, I'm daisy-chaining it with a HDV camera and still with bandwidth to spare even for HDV editing. I bought it in Taiwan and its so good I'm thinking of selling them on ebay considering it was extremely cheap and it matches my Macbook Pro quite nicely! :)

    Attached Files:

  6. Mr-Stabby thread starter macrumors 6502

    Sep 1, 2004
    Thank you all for your replies.

    Our machines are networked over a 100mbps CAT5 network, which would be ok for the odd bit of video editing over a network, but when 14 students are capturing video at a time which is what happens with us daily, the network would fall over VERY quickly. Replacing the whole setup would cost money we don't have. But thanks for your suggestions :D
  7. zblaxberg Guest


    Jan 22, 2007
    This is what we do at my school. We have 2 160gb hard drives in the computers to work off of and then we just back up all of our files to the server at different times so we don't crash it and we can take them off of the hard drive.
  8. RedTomato macrumors 68040


    Mar 4, 2005
    .. London ..
    Not sure if the server thing would work for as you say, (apart from the risk of it slowing down / crashing at critical times) you have a working methodology in place, and the staff and students have built up a working knowledge of how to use and work with external drives. That's a valuable thing - don't waste it.

    Using a server also has the disadvantage of making it harder for staff and students to take work home to do in the evenings / do on their own computers. This might impact a large part of your school's teaching strategy.

    All in all, why not just buy a couple of bus powered firewire drives and test them out?
  9. entspeak macrumors newbie

    Jul 31, 2007
    Not the best idea

    It is always best for the drive to use it's own power supply for video capturing and editing to prevent dropped frames. This is what Apple recommends. Does each student bring in their own hard drive? If that's the case, can't they bring in their own power supplies?

    If they are being supplied with hard drives, the easiest solution would be to buy the extra power supplies.

    But if you are going to be capturing and editing video, you are going to want a steady data stream, uninterrupted by having to supply power over the same line. If your class gets into editing HD, the bus-power would absolutely pose a problem. It may or may not be a problem with DV... it would be unpredictable.
  10. RedTomato macrumors 68040


    Mar 4, 2005
    .. London ..
    HDV which is about as high end as student cameras will get in the next few years uses the same bandwith as DV, so the same drive and FW interface can be used for both.

    Higher grades of HDTV which use more bandwidth also use insane amounts of storage/bandwith, far above what you'd get in an external drive, so realistically, it's for the high-end production lab only, and you can put off thinking about student-portable drives for it until the next generation of drives in a few years time.

    It's definitely worth talking to the teaching staff to find out their plans for the next few years with regards to shifting to HDTV and data storage.
  11. Aea macrumors 6502a


    May 23, 2007
    Denver, Colorado
    Possibly eSATA?
  12. RedTomato macrumors 68040


    Mar 4, 2005
    .. London ..
    Good point, and it may well happen in the future.

    For the moment, no mac has a eSATA port, so it would involve both buying 100x expansion cards (if they're mac pros, or just forget it if they're iMacs) and buying 100x power cables (eSATA isn't bus powered).

    Also I seem to recall eSATA isn't hotpluggable - it can only be connected or disconnected when a computer is turned off.

    Finally, grades of HDTV past HDV require more bandwidth than any single drive can reliably provide, requiring either arrays of flash cards or expensive RAID arrays.

    (HDV or DV is 25Mbits/sec, or 9GB/hour. HDCAM SR as used by most HD TV studios is about 440Mbits/sec, or about 160GB/hour)
  13. Mr-Stabby thread starter macrumors 6502

    Sep 1, 2004
    We're not going into HD for a few years yet as we've just purchased some Canon XL2's which are only SD. Plus even when we do, we'll probably end up with HDV which as you say is around the same bitrate.

    We supply students Hard Drives, but the problem with buying yet more power supplies is that we'd have to buy over 100 power supplies for the amount of editing computers we have. They would also be tyed to the machine with ANOTHER power supply, so it would be clogged up with power extensions and power bricks everywhere. Then whats to say we have to buy another Hard Drive case in future. It's just going to be a massive hassle. We have tried letting the students look after their own Hard Drives and cabling, but the problem with that is they don't treat the machines with respect and so mangle the Firewire ports on them very quickly and power surges start happening. Also they have an annoying habit of unplugging other students iMacs when they are trying to plug in their own Hard Drives. Whatever people say, students have no common sense when it comes to computer equipment, so we have to treat them like babies in that respect.

    I think as you say i'll have to buy a bus powered drive and do some testing before we buy a stash of them, but i really don't see a reason why they wouldn't work at the same speed as a laptop Hard Drive which is fine for basic video editing, we'll see.

    Thanks for the responses again, keep em coming :D

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