There is a wide variety of products that fall into the category of digital media storage. Most include the ability for multiple users to access the same files, as shared storage is necessary for the various departments and stages to collaborate with one another and get the project done. Depending on the size of your team, you may also need a switch, which is like a power strip for users instead of outlets—the switch plugs into the storage, and the users plug into one of the eight ports on the switch, with stackable switches to add more users. Depending on the resolution and how many people will be using the footage at the same time, you’ll want to make sure the switch allows your team to use every bit of speed you have. It doesn’t matter how fast the system is, if it’s plugged into a one gig switch, nothing is faster than one gig, and you don’t want to limit yourself.

If you are an individual or you have a very small team and don’t expect to grow, there are desktop options for you that will plug into your computer and take up about as much space on the desk as a decent speaker. You’ll plug directly into it, so there will be no outside components to juggle to maximize speed. It isn’t scalable, so if you are wildly successful you’ll need to start from scratch to build a shared system, but it will work for you.

What about brand?

There are many details to consider, so it’s impossible to blanket recommend anything to all parties. In general SNS has a robust and well-designed system that comes with it’s own user-friendly asset management software. Building from nothing, it’s fabulously fast and dependable. There are different products available within the SNS line, and all of them are sturdy and well-designed.

If you are working with your own asset management software, or worse, you are working with a bunch of people who all use different software, your best bet is GB Labs. It doesn’t come with asset management software, which also tends to keep prices low, and it works with whatever asset management system you are already using. Windows, Mac or Linux—the system works equally well with all of them. It’s storage. While SNS wants to be your new system and comes with brilliant workflow options, GB will be the storage you use with your existing workflow. Fewer bells and whistles, which is perfect for those who really don’t want bells or whistles and who would like to change as little as possible in the upgrade.

Those are just two of the leading brands, and others have slight differences that might make them the best option for a particular circumstance, but the two camps seem to be robust but proprietary vs. fewer features with greater compatibility. It’s important to determine what you need most. If you believe you will one day be a team with twenty permanent employees, start with something small but scalable by SNS, and you can add a switch and add additional storage down the road. That way, the workflow is in place on day one, and everyone just learns how to do it when they arrive, so there’s no switch-over. If you believe that you will realistically need to be more fluid, with a team size and tech-options that change with each project, it’s more important that you design a workflow that works for you with GB labs holding it up.