Storage devices are conceivably more easily concealed, but even-so, any device can be easily read for its contents. Almost every digital device, from a cell phone to a GPS is a store for data.

Video Files are Huge

Video consumes much more data than other digital media. As such, storing video files will require a lot of space. This is a security issue because having a back-up system and process with huge video files is an issue for video activists.

The general rule of thumb is to have redundant back-ups. Meaning, to have a back-ups of your back-up. This may prevent your back-up from being compromised.

Another tip is to make sure that your back-ups are not in the same location. This will ensure that you will have access to your videos and raw footage even if your computers and other storage devices have been seized, and other cases of emergency.

Here are some more considerations in storing and backing up video files:

  • Under Windows operating systems storing large files can be tricky. Many drives are formatted as FAT32. FAT32 will not support files larger than 2GB. This is not common knowledge.

Storage Options – Too Many Choices

There are so many storage options available to use now, but which are the safest and most secure? SD cards, for instance, have a known life span of around 100,000 write cycles. You may need back-up for your back-ups!

  • USB memory sticks, SD cards, external drives and video tape (DV, HDV) are preferred by activists and videographers.

    • Portable, quick to transfer data, cheap, unaffected by magnetic fields and can be stored in high humidity conditions and have been known to survive washing machines.

  • Digital tape can be a useful storage option if you have the means. Easily store raw, uncompressed video data, storage is time based, not volume based. However, tape deteriorates in humidity, requiring temperature controlled storage in high humidity conditions.

    • Magnetic will eventually break. For long-term storage, use SSD devices (read only, write once) because it does not uses magnetic components, however the price is expensive.

Environmental conditions

High temperatures and humidity can affect some forms of storage. Commonly known as bit rot, CDs and DVDs are known to grow mould rendering them unusable. Magnetic tape is also pre-disposed to deterioration in these conditions.

  • Air tight and water resistant, re-sealable plastic bags can be used to protect video tape, SD cards, USB sticks and other digital media. Carry such bags with you at all times.

  • Tapes can also be risky for humid environments. Make back up every 5 years, and store in re-sealable, water resistant plastic bags. Make sure the air in the bag is sucked out with a vacuum cleaner. Store in a cool, dry place. If possible use a dehumidifier.

  • Unstable electricity supply should be avoided. If possible, use an uninterrupted power supply (UPS) at your work place. In the field protect your devices with power surge protectors and limit the use of external drives. Sudden loss of power can result in corrupted or loss of data.


Things to Ask Yourself

  • How much video footage and videos do you have?

  • Do you have a back-up process and system for your video files?

  • What types of videos do you have on file? Do they document human rights abuse and violations? Can your videos be potentially seen as rebellious by the government?

  • Does your government have a history of confiscating servers of activist organisations? Are there policies in your country that permit governments to seize servers and computers of activist organisations or individuals?

  • Where are you located? Is your climate humid?

 These questions will help you decide what kind of storage security issues you might need to address.