Best Hard Drives For Video Editors
When you are an avid video editor, the chances are you will have a huge library of large image files, lengthy video footage and various audio clips. This can cause havoc on your system and will require you to have a pretty impressive hard drive in order to handle the hefty files you need. It is vital for all video editors to have a hard drive that can handle the high-performance demands, and with ever-increasing video resolutions, higher audio bit rates and more megapixels it can be a struggle to keep up. Before deciding which hard drive will work for you, you must first determine how much overall storage space you require and what data-transfer speed your video editing projects will need.
Before you can go shopping for your new hard drive, you need to determine how much storage space you need and also how quickly your data can be stored and retrieved. The biggest deciding factor of this is what codec and resolution you will primarily be using for your video editing. The amount of space that different video codecs occupy varies hugely, for example popular editing codec 1080p ProRes HQ will need roughly 112GB per hour, whereas 1080p AVCHD uses around 11GB per hour.
It is all vital not to confuse bytes and bits, always remember there are eight bits in one byte. Most codecs will rate their speed in bits per second, however hard drives will publish their speed in bytes per second. There are useful apps available that can determine how much bandwidth your chosen codec will be using in bytes per second (check out AJA DataCalc app for Windows and Mac). Once you know how much bandwidth one single track of codec needs, you can then determine how many tracks you are going to need to play back at once.
If you are editing HD content that doesn’t have a huge number of tracks, then a high performance 3.5” drive will probably meet your needs. At the moment, high-end 7200 rpm 3.5” drives are able to deliver reliable speeds at 150MB/s and above, in capacities as high as 4TB. This is enough to play back numerous tracks of compressed video including DnxHD or ProRes. Look out for 3.5” hard drives that will give you at least 150MB/s of sustained transfer speeds for video editing. 2.5” drives or lower performance 3.5” drives are not recommended for any video editing as they are not designed to sustain high enough speeds.
Solid-state drives or SSDs are significantly faster and higher performing than hard-disk drives. As well as their impressive speed, they have near-instantaneous seek times and the ability to read a lot of small files at the same speed as one big file. All this makes them perfect for storing software and programmes that need to access a lot of small files. However, when it comes to video editing needs, you will require a sustained transfer rate. SSDs are faster than hard disk drives for this, but not as much as you might expect. A top-end SSD can give around 400BM/s sustained transfer speed and the price per GB is vastly higher than with a hard-disk drive.
For video editors that don’t have the space in their computer for an internal drive, then an external drive will be required. The performance of an external drive can be determined by two factors: the speed of the drive being used and the speed of the interface that is used to connect to the computer. The best external drive setups will use high-performance 7200 rpm drives, so be sure to check before you buy. Some manufacturers don’t publish the speed of the internal drive that is used, and this is usually because it isn’t very fast. You also want to make sure that the interface is faster than the drive, as if you have a drive that is faster than an interface there will be no benefit.
If you need more storage than an SSD drive, and a single drive isn’t fast enough for you, then you may benefit from setting up a RAID array. These RAID arrays use multiple drives combined to increase the speed and protect your data. It is possible to configure your own RAID array using software, or for the best performance you can use a hardware RAID controller or external RAID array that has its own controller. All of the drives used in a RAID should be the same size and the same speed for the best performance for video editing.