At A Glance: Monster Storage

In our constantly changing digital world, we often forget how critical a good storage solution is. With the transition to more affordable 4K workflows—especially on the camera side—your 2 TB USB 3.0 external hard drive isn’t going to cut it anymore. (A single minute of an 8-bit 4K ProRes 422 HQ sequence is roughly 7 GB, not to mention moving around those huge files.) If you’re a documentary filmmaker with an overabundance of material or a small production/postproduction company, you’re going to need more speed and space. And, if you have multiple computers, or employees, you’re going to need a better solution.

One solution is having your own server, which manages, stores, sends and processes your data 24/7. Having a server is a great solution, but some of the downsides in operating your own server are the size (you can’t really move it) and the high cost, not to mention the cost of maintenance.

If you want access to all of your data without having multiple drives, G-Technology’s G-SPEED Studio XL might be a great storage solution for you. In 2014, G-Technology launched their two-bay G-RAID Studio (up to 12 TB) and four-bay G-SPEED Studio (up to 24 TB) Thunderbolt 2 storage solutions, but the Studio XL dwarfs both of them, holding up to eight removable enterprise-class 7,200 RPM hard drives (up to 8 TB), giving you up to 64 TB of storage capacity and a sustained transfer rate of up to 1,350 MB/s. Also, because it uses Thunderbolt 2 ports, the XL can be daisy-chained to up to six Thunderbolt devices to increase speeds and support multistream HD, 2K and compressed 4K workflows. The speed and storage capacity should have you covered for any type of application. G-Technology was kind enough to lend a review unit that I tested with my late-2013, 27-inch iMac.

Out of the box, the Studio XL has a nice black enclosure that resembles a small desktop computer. Opening the front door reveals your eight disk drives; each drive can be easily ejected individually and a G logo lights up, notifying you that your system is working. The back of the XL is simple, revealing the cooling fans, a power button, two Thunderbolt 2 ports, an AC input and a Kensington Slot. The system also has an integrated cooling technology to keep the drives running smoothly while still running relatively quietly. The drive system also contains an alarm that will sound off if the system’s temperature gets too high or if the system’s fan breaks down.

The back of the Studio XL is simple: cooling fans, a power button, two Thunderbolt 2 ports, an AC input and a Kensington Slot.

The Studio XL supports 4K workflows with user-configurable RAID 0, 1, 5, 10, 50 and 60. It ships preconfigured as HFS+ in RAID 5 so it’s ready to use out of the box without configuring. If you do want to configure, the system is bundled with the G-Technology Assistant utility and the G-SPEED Studio Software Utility, which lets you monitor and make disk array changes, as well as obtain firmware updates.

What really makes this Studio XL unique is, because of its Thunderbolt 2 plug-and-play functionality and gargantuan storage capacity, you’re able to take your entire data collection with you, instead of hauling individual portable drives around from various projects. This is great when you want to work from home and you really need that one shot you have on the "mothership" drive at work. At 18.5 pounds, the Studio XL is by no means lightweight, but it’s definitely doable in terms of transporting from the office to home.

Pricing for the G-SPEED Studio XL is $3,599.95 (24 TB), $4,599.95 (32 TB), $5,499.95 (40 TB), $5,999.95 (48 TB) and $6,999.95 (64 TB). For an indie filmmaker, $7K might be a bit steep, so a 12 TB G-RAID Studio ($1,299.95 MSRP) definitely will do the job. But, again, if your data means anything to you, having a professional storage system is essential for any filmmaker. For a small production or post company, it’s a no-brainer.

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