How to utilize external drives to send large amounts of data to remote users in an organized way
One of the fastest and least expensive ways to provide remote users with data is a simple check-in/check-out based system utilizing external hard drives. This is often a great simple option when you need to allow a user to continue working on a solo project at an offsite location that requires a large amount of raw media.
- Cheap, you can use existing/inexpensive external drives
- One of the fastest options if large amounts of data are needed remotely
- If policy is followed, project organization and versioning will be maintained once the project is "checked-in"
- Not fast to update changes (requires drive being sent back and changes copied back to original space)
- Temporarily slows down collaboration (only one user can access the project until it's checked back in)
- Organization of projects can be extremely difficult if policy is not followed properly
To have a successful check in/check out workflow, you need to develop a process and policy around how projects are checked in and checked out. This is critically important as breaking your "rules" could result in missing or duplicated data. Below is a sample process that can be used as a baseline for your own CI/CO policy.
In our sample version of a CI/CO workflow we will be locking projects that have been Checked out, however this requires that projects are handled at the Platform Space level (as this is the only level that can be locked). If you have individual projects stored inside of various platform spaces, you may want to consider "promoting" those projects to their own platform space prior to checking them out. If you choose to allow the check out of folders below the Platform Space level, you won't have any ability to freeze those folders/projects, so data may be overwritten while the project is checked out and you could end with users working on two different versions of the same project file which should be avoided.
The Sample process below assumes that Projects are organized at the Platform space level, and that a primary "Workflow Admin" user is present to perform the physical CI/CO process at the site with the locally connected system.
- Only the "Workflow Admin" can lock or unlock spaces.
- If a space is locked, it should be a spoken agreement among team members that no one other than the "workflow admin" should attempt to access that data regardless of their access or ability (Just because you can, doesn't mean you should).
- The remote user who receives the external drive copy of the space now "owns" that space, and will likely have unique data on the external drive once they begin working on it. They should consider backup and data integrity while they have control of the space.
Check Out Process
- While logged into the Platform GUI on your workstation, Identify the Platform Space that you'd like to "Check out".
- Mount that space on your workstation.
- Plug your external drive into your workstation and rename the drive to be the same name as the Platform Space (this will allow for the easiest relinking scenario in your NLE).
- Transfer the data between the mounted Platform space and the into the new folder on your external drive of the same name. Transfer the contents of the Platform space, to the root of the drive. In essence, the drive becomes the platform space itself.
- In the Platform GUI, right click on the Platform space you've transferred and select "Lock Platform Space".
Note - You can copy multiple Platform Spaces onto a single external drive by creating folders that match the Platform Space names and transferring their respective data into them, however this will create relinking issue when opening your NLE projects on the external vs on the Platform server later.)
Check In Process
- Connect the external drive back to your workstation.
- Open the Platform GUI, select the Platform Space you'll be checking back in and select "Unlock Platform Space".
- Mount that Platform Space
- Copy the data from your external drive to the Platform Space, overwrite old files in favor of new ones.
- The space is now unlocked and updated for other users to mount locally as normal, or to begin their own check out process if necessary.
If the process is followed and the rules are adhered to, the check in/check out method can be a very simple, quick way of enabling a simple no-frills remote workflow in a pinch. Long term it creates flexibility issues and exposes you to unnecessary risks with unique data, so it likely shouldn't be relied on for extended use with a team of more than a few people.