Storage Blues
We have tested a wide variety of storage options and give the results of our tests.
With the influx of digital media comes the associated problem of storing it. Fortunately, the cost of storage has dropped dramatically in the past few years. In this article, we examine the options based on IDE, SCSI, USB, and Firewire.

By far, the cheapest option is to buy IDE disks and install them internally. IDE disks are typically one-third the cost of SCSI disks for the same amount of gigabytes. However, most motherboards have a limit of 4 IDE slots, several of which are used by the other media such as CD-ROM drives or floppy disk.

Even though SCSI is the most expensive option, it is also the fastest option with ideal transfer rates of 160MB/s. In practice, a good disk will transfer at about 30MB/s depending on the kind of file transfers. SCSI is the only real choice for enterprise critical video applications. IDE disks tend to transfer data at about half the speed of the current ultra160 SCSI disks.

USB (pre 2.0) has the major advantage of external portability and immediate gratification. USB hard disks work immediately and generally without problems. Furthermore, the cost is only slightly higher than using internal IDE drives. However, the speed of USB is limited to 1.2 MB/s compared to 40 MB/s for firewire. USB 2.0 products are on the shelves, but have not yet been proven to have high reliability and stability.

This brings us to Firewire, which has excellent transfer rates and has a good extension path, which is to say that you can chain about 16 feet of Firewire disks together for additional storage. However, in our tests, you have to be very careful about matching DV cards to Firewire hard disks. For example, matching an Asus DV card to a Maxtor hard drive resulted in occasional failed file transfers. However, there were no problems in using a Maxtor DV card with the Maxtor hard drive.

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