There has been a lot in the news this weekend about the WannaCry Ransomware virus. And this isn’t meant to scare you but there is a LOT that can happen to your wonderful wedding memories after the wedding day itself. Anything from a ransomware virus encrypting it so we can’t access it to fire, theft or simple corruption. The most common cause of data loss is due to a drive or system failure which has happened to us but we have a lovely and robust backup policy in place which means that nothing was lost. For a more in-depth look at what we do and how we do it be sure to check out this article.
My background before giving it all up was being responsible for the data of the likes of Barclaycard, G4S and others. Managing petabytes of information and ensuring its safety. So managing our data is second nature for me but also one of my priorities.
So what happens to your footage after (or even on the day itself)? How do we protect it from harm but also recover it should anything happen? This isn’t something many of our couples ever think about, they just like to assume that everything that can be done to protect it is being done but the truth is that many simply copy it from the memory cards to a hard drive and that is where it will remain until it’s finished with. If you are lucky, maybe to 2 hard drives. Where are all of your family photos stored now we live in a digital world? On your phone but anywhere else?
Minty Slippers couples are more than just lucky, we have a very robust data management policy in place that I would like to share with you and our fellow filmmakers. A policy that aims to reduce or remove risks such as fire, theft, corruption, accidental deletion, hardware failure, malicious damage, anything you can think of. We like to think that we have the most robust data management policy in our industry. Not just by simply having more copies of your data but through the entire life-cycle of your film and in all areas. Let us run through what we do along each stage of your film;
Short on time, here’s the rub;
- Data is stored on a network unit which can tolerate a single disk failure.
- We have spare hard disks in case of failure.
- We have a minimum of 2 copies of your data. One is always off site.
- The actual edits we create are also backed up to 2 locations in real-time. We retain 128 versions of these edits.
- Everything is protected by a sexy battery pack.
- We use complex, individual passwords and 2 factor authentication.
- We encrypt your data for privacy, scan daily for viruses and keep everything behind 2 firewalls.
ON THE DAY
Right from the moment we pack our bags we are looking to protect your memories from the evils of the world. What can go wrong? Corruption, card failure and theft. Our super dupa cameras record everything to 2 cards at the same time. In the left slot is a super big memory card which stays in there all day. Then, all being well we just copy all the data from that one card to our system at the end of the day. The other card is a little smaller and we swap that after each part of the day. So after the preps, change, after the ceremony, change, after the mingle, change and so on. This card is then kept on our person at all times in a waterproof card holder (see, even on hot sweaty days we take no chances). This means we always have 2 copies of your data.
At the end of the day the 2 copies are never kept in the same place. So if we stop off at a services for a little refreshment on our way back from Scotland then a copy will always be with us and one elsewhere.
THE NEXT DAY
The first thing we do the next day is copy your data from the card onto our system. Up until now one copy was with our camera gear in the office and the other comes to bed with us. Our system being a network attached storage device with 4 hard drives in a RAID 5 configuration. RAID 5 is a technology which means if a single disk fails in our server then… well nothing really. It keeps working, keeps your data nice and safe but it does mean we should replace that disk before anything else fails. This is why we have brand new spare disks ready to go and express replacement warranty on those disks.
But that’s protection against a drive failure (the most common cause of data loss). The next step is to protect against everything else.
Copy 1 – Local Backups
Each night our system backs up all your data to an external hard drive. This point in time backup means we are protected against corruption or user error.
Copy 2 – Off Site Backup
Each week (usually the first Monday after all our weekend weddings) a copy of all the data is sent to our other network storage unit that is housed offsite. This is a copy that no one has access to and is only there incase our main copy is lost in a fire or through theft.
All these copies means that if ANYTHING should happen to your data that we have another copy we can call upon. We have had it in the past where our entire storage unit has gone ‘Pfffft!’. But we lost no sleep, we just bought another unit, filled it with hard drives and restored everything from our backups with ZERO loss.
AS WE WORK ON YOUR FILM
So that’s the heavy data, the big video files all backed up. Now we start work on your film, every few seconds we hit save on your film project and that file is then instantly sent to our offsite storage unit AND a copy is saved to an encrypted folder on Amazons own servers. We also keep 128 versions of the file as at this point the most common thing that can go wrong is us making changes to your film, hitting save and realising we messed something up and want to go back to a previous version. This file is then also backed up in our daily backups.
While a loss of these project files wont harm your video files it would put us back days or weeks in your edit. So we take all those steps to ensure that we have mere minutes of disruption if these files are lost.
So, with all that we can have a virus infect our system, encrypt all the data while our house burns down as thieves run off with whatever they can salvage from the smoldering wreckage and still we would have lost NOTHING! But wait, there’s more.
This is what has caused us to lose a storage unit (but no data) in the past. A simple ‘blip’ in the power network.
Both our on site and offsite storage units are powered by a big battery connected to the mains. Should the power dip, go off completely or even spike then this big battery ensures the storage units keep running and after a few minutes of no power they automatically shut everything down nice and safe.
Our backups mean if a virus wipes it we can get it back but the best practice is to prevent them in the first place. Our storage units perform daily virus scans. On top of this they sit behind 2 firewalls. This is where the NHS recently went wrong as the WannaCry virus spread through their networks and even over the internet because they left something exposed. This something also had access to their internal network and let the beast roam free. We use 2 firewalls to ensure that our little storage unit, the thing containing all your memories sits in its own little bubble.
This is where you think were going too far. But I disagree. Our big storage units are locked using a laptop lock to the big, metal boxes that they live in. These metal boxes are also secured with a key.
Each system and service we use has it’s own password made up of letter, numbers and special characters. If someone figured our password for one system like Amazon then that same password wont work anywhere else. We also enable 2 factor authentication on everything we can.
New vulnerabilities are being found all the time in Windows, Mac OS and the software our storage units run. Rather than have the policy of ‘if it aint broke, dont fix it’ we have one of always being up to date with the latest software and security updates. This is why as apply them within a few days of being released.
Finally, everything on our disks is encrypted using GCHQ and NSA proof 256bit AES encryption. So if a drive fails and goes back to the manufacturer or in the bin or if anything is stolen, nothing is accessible to ANYONE without the encryption key. So for those clients of ours who request that we respect their privacy then we’ve got you covered here. Now, I bet you never once thought about that.
All of this may seem a little overkill but in this digital world we feel it’s an absolute must. We now not only have to protect ourselves from the usual causes of data loss but also those with malicious intent. Those who know how much value we now hold in our data and will do what they can to try to make you pay that value to get your data back. And I can tell you that in our lifetime the only thing were likely to suffer from is a hard drive failure but if you remove any one of the steps above that we take then you are leaving a great big hole. A hole that you can only hope you or your chosen videographer don’t fall into. But why doesn’t everyone do this? Why is our policy more robust than even some banks or the people responsible for our countries prison services? Quite simply cost, each copy of your data increases the cost of what we have to offer. Each other step and bit of protection we add is yet more cost and sometimes people feel it’s just better to take a little risk. We however are only happy with zero risk.
Have any questions, comments or noticed any big holes I’ve left in our little plan? Be sure to let us know in the comments below.