We talk a lot about shared storage and networks because that’s what we deal with most, but before a company has grown to the point where that’s feasible they usually started with a direct storage system. Instead of focusing on the move from small professional studio to medium-sized professional studio, let’s talk about the move from hobbyist to professional.

Your home computer, laptop, tablet, and every other device you use for your digital world has some kind of storage for files, but it is finite. The more full your hard drive, the slower your system, too. Initially, you worked with what you had, and for the most part it was ok. You made room for the most challenging aspects, like starting to digest a file right before you quit for the night so that the file can be ready for you to use when you get up in the morning. It’s a pain, but it works. You upgrade your home computer to the biggest and fastest available for home computers and look longingly at the shiny pictures of large-scale studios, but that stuff is clearly not for you.

Then the work picks up, which is exactly what you were hoping for, but trying to go back and forth between the projects is hard, and the computer has been rendered useless given how bogged-down it is. The solution is external direct storage. And probably hiring help.

Just like a thumb drive, when you save your project, you use Save As and choose where to save the file. This is just a thumb drive if the thumb belonged to the giant at the top of the beanstalk. Portable, it can be as simple as a box that sits on your desk and plugs in. You may be able to plug in more than one computer, too, so you can both access the direct storage. Smaller units plug into your computer, and can be handed to a coworker so they can plug it in to their computer when it’s their turn to work on something. Your computer works flawlessly because there’s nothing saved on it and your project is safely stored on something you can hold in your hand.

If you lack the computing power to effectively edit your projects even when you’ve freed up the hard drive, you may just need a faster computer, but if your system can manage the work, you can dedicate an external drive to each project to keep everything tidy.

The down side is the organization that’s required. You have to remember which drive you saved the file to, and where the drive itself is stored, which starts out super simple—it’s on the only one, which is right next to you—but can get complicated quickly if you save old projects. Passing a physical item back and forth often leads to someone leaving it in their car, and that’s not good for anyone. There is a reason that people take the leap from the external drive system to a shared digital media storage system, but if you aren’t busy enough to justify the purchase, sit down with your team and actually write up a procedure that ensures the drives are where they need to be at all times and you’ll be fine.

Just because no installation is required doesn’t mean you wouldn’t benefit from a chat with an engineer, and we can order direct storage for you so you know you’re getting something that will work for you. And we’d love to hear from you when your amazing success brings you to the shared-storage club, too.