Your microSD Card: Is Cost All That Matters?

They look the same and have the same capacity.  For consumers shopping for a microSD card, the only difference might appear to be their price. Does it really matter which microSD card you buy? Should you go with the cheapest option?

Turns out, there’s more to that little plastic chip than you can see on the outside.
It may come as a surprise, but choosing a microSD card is actually an important decision that affects the performance of your phone or other mobile device. Pair a cheapo microSD with your top notch smartphone and you’re setting yourself up for a whole range of problems, ranging from memory failures and corrupted files to crashing your entire phone OS.

“The fact that there are a lot of fake cards out there,” reports Richard Lai of Engadget interviewing Hugo Barra, Xiaomi’s Vice President of International.

The market abounds with SanDisk that is not really SanDisk, Kingston that is not really Kingston, and other major manufacturers that are possibly just cheap Chinese fakes. It’s not hard to print out a name-brand sticker and put it on a generic microSD. Barra elaborated on the problem:

“You think you’re buying like a Kingston or a SanDisk but you’re actually not, and they’re extremely poor quality, they’re slow, they sometimes just stop working, and it gives people huge number of issues, apps crashing all the time, users losing data, a lot of basically complaints and customer frustration. It’s gonna be a while before you finally accept that maybe the reason why it’s not performing is because you put in an SD card.”

Because of the prevalence of sub-quality microSD cards on the market, the problem has many smartphone manufacturers choosing not to put microSD slots in their high-end, flagship phones at all. There’s just too much potential for disaster and the problems that come up usually get blamed on the innocent phone, rather than the tiny memory card hiding inside of it, jamming up the works.

But despite the concern from big brands, microSD slots are still a big selling point for shoppers.
If you do value the ability to increase your smartphone’s memory beyond its out-of-the-box capacity, make sure the card you’re slipping inside is a quality product – not a phone-debilitating enemy in disguise.

It’s important to not only choose a brand you can trust, but also with a reliable distributor; preferably, an official partner of a top-quality brand like Panasonic or Kingston. Our official partnership with Panasonic is just one reason DIGISTOR is a preferred retailer for high-end, quality microSD cards you can trust. If you’d like to learn more about our quality control and microSD card compatibility, call up one of our sales associates for more information.

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Top 5 things cinematographers love about our Professional Video SSDs

Cinematographers and filmmakers love our Professional video SSD drives. After much discussion on the how and why we developed a series of SSD drives focused on video capture, primarily aiming towards certification for Blackmagic recording hardware, we have found the top 5 things that get cinematographers excited about our drives.

 

1. It’s the first and only SSD series made exclusively for video capture.
DIGISTOR set out to build the SSD line up specifically focusing on video capture rather than designing an SSD for computer use. Where other brands build SSDs for a wide variety of computers, we focus on what works well with your video recording hardware.

From the locked bill of materials and firmware, to the NAND flash, controller, and even the physical size of our SSDs, our Professional Video Series was built from the ground up to meet the unique needs of professional filmmakers.

2. Our Professional Video Series SSDs are sized for a snug fit.
Your Blackmagic Camera has a 9.5mm size slot — shouldn’t your SSD be designed to sit securely inside?

While the industry continues to move towards more compact drives, the Professional Video Series remains a standard 9.5mm to avoid shaking, rattling, flexing your connector and possibly dropping frames.

3. Our locked BOM ensures long-term compatibility with Blackmagic.
Once approved by Blackmagic, we lock our bill of materials — both physical and firmware. Before any changes are made, our SSDs are again extensively tested for re-certification by Blackmagic.

For our customers, that means every DIGISTOR drive that has been listed as Blackmagic compatible will remain so, regardless of movements in the market for new NAND or updated controllers.

4. Your workflow, made more efficient by editing straight from the disk.
Stuck on site or don’t have the time to transfer your footage to local storage?

Made to go directly from your Blackmagic recording hardware into the HyperDeck Studio, Blackmagic MultiDock, or connect with a Thunderbolt adapter, our powerful SSDs allow you to smoothly transition from shooting to on-site editing.

5. Our Professional Video Series comes ready to shoot.
Unlike off-the-shelf SSDs that require formatting before use, our Professional Video Series SSDs are made to support recording hardware right out of the box. Compatible with exFAT and already formatted, you can go straight to shooting.

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SSD Dos & Don’ts

SSDs are quickly replacing mechanical, magnetic hard drives thanks to their speed, ruggedness and lightweight, compact form (among a host of other reasons!) Because SSDs are relatively simple to set up, most new users don’t put much thought into long-term care.

Still, there are certain “dos and don’ts” every SSD user should be aware of to extend the life of their drive. Here’s a quick rundown to keep your SSD operating at peak performance:

Don’t Defragment Your SSD
Unlike magnetic drives, fragmentation isn’t going to hurt your SSD’s speed. In fact, fragmentation is a requirement for maximum SSD performance!

SSD controllers can access multiple channels simultaneously. This means that sprawling data across several flash chips allows your SSD to access information with more speed, instead of slowing it down.

Do Check That Auto-Defrag is Disabled
Defragging your SSD is not only unnecessary, but it could shorten the life of your SSD.

SSDs have a lifespan that’s determined by how much they’re used. While it’s designed to last much longer than you’ll ever need it, defragmenting your SSD involves writing data unnecessarily, which will shorten your SSD’s lifespan. OS X and Windows should both be able to detect when an SSD is in use and turn off defragmentation automatically, but just in case be sure to check that the auto defrag option in your OS of choice is turned off.

Don’t Use for Archived Files
SSDs offer uncompromising speed, making them the ideal choice for operating system files and other programs that must be accessed frequently and quickly.

However, due to size limitations and cost-per-gigabyte, SSDs are less efficient for storing large or seldom-used files that simply take up space. If you require a large amount of storage for archiving purposes, optical drives and Blu-ray recordable media provide a scalable and low-cost solution.

Do Enable TRIM
When a block is written to, the entire block must be erased before it can be used to store new data. But the process of erasing blocks can slow the SSD’s performance if it’s managed on the fly.

TRIM is a command that extends the life of your SSD by preventing the drive from overusing certain blocks. The command does so by stepping in a little ahead of time and instructing your operating system (supported by Windows 7 onward) to erase the blocks that are no longer considered “in use” and can be wiped internally.

Windows 7 and 8 should detect an SSD and enable TRIM automatically, but it’s a good idea to check anyway.

Don’t Use Old Operating Systems
Old operating systems like Windows XP and Windows Vista don’t include support for the TRIM command, leaving deleted file data on your drive.

Unerased sectors slow down performance, forcing your operating system to first erase the residual data before writing a file into the free space.

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Why Digistor’s Professional Video SSDs Rock Blackmagic User’s Socks Off

Our SSDs have been described as the “best choice” by filmmakers and here’s why…

1. We streamline your workflow.
We design our SSDs to use the latest NAND flash controller technology, focusing specifically on in-camera use, which means they work well under pressure, no need for OS level optimization that a standard PC SSD may need. The Professional Video Series SSD drives arrive shoot ready, so you can unbox, plug-in, and start filming.

2. Were the most reliable.
Have to shoot a long presentation? Our Professional Video SSDs work flawlessly shooting nonstop, filling the entire drive and never dropping a frame. 4K RAW recording requires massive storage, so we’ve specially developed the 1TB Professional Video SSD for 4K capture in RAW format! To ensure your Digistor SSD goes the distance, our developers employ improvements that extend the endurance of our SSDs with intelligent block management and wear leveling, as well as advanced garbage collection techniques.

3. We build with a locked BOM for quality and consistency with every drive.
What goes on your SSD isn’t just your creative vision, it’s your whole team’s hard work. Digistor knows that filmmakers need the peace of mind that comes from an SSD that’s tailor made for Blackmagic cameras and recorders. Unlike off-the-shelf SSD brands with flexible bill of materials (BOM), which means they can change controller manufacturers, NAND flash, or Firmware with any given batch, we have a locked BOM, giving you reliable, glitch free performance every time. Once our drives are certified by Blackmagic, that certification locks our build.

Have more questions about how Digistor Professional Video SSDs can enhance your Blackmagic experience? Give our team a call or drop us a line at sales@digistor.com.

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How SSDs Have Taken Industrial Applications by Storm

Many rugged industrial SSD applications owe credit to the innovation that was brought about by consumer demand for more powerful electronics, such as iPods, digital cameras and smart phones. It’s thanks to huge adoption within consumer devices that the cost per gigabit has become affordable for the masses and enticing for industrial innovators.

The first adoptions of SSDs outside of consumer electronics were primarily made by high-end industrial and military system designers that required a better solution for rugged tasks than offered by hard disk drives.

Those initial applications were limited to flight and mission data recorders, field computers for troops, GPS communication systems and other industrial applications where devices were required to withstand high vibrations or extreme temperatures.

As the merits of SSD technology increased, the drives became an attractive option for single board developing computers, and were integrated into everything from edge routers and switches in netcom applications, industrial automation, control equipment to ATM machines and other forms of interactive kiosks and medical devices.

Because of their lower power consumption and long product life in applications that require 24/7, or “always on”, capability, SSDs also offer dependability in tasks that require the highest endurance – making modern generations of SSDs true drop-in replacements for hard drives.

The implementation of SSDs in the industrial market continues to rapidly increase thanks to unparalleled flexibility and new dimensions of applications. Because they only require a fraction of the system power of hard drives, SSDs are an appropriate choice for onboard storage even in the most space-constrained designs. Adding to their advantages, new generations of SSDs ingrate voltage detection technology to eliminate potential drive corruption in case of a power disturbance.

The advanced SSD technology offered by Digistor’s industrial drives have been developed and designed to excel in a range of innovative applications that require unique specifications and features. Whether the application demands enhanced temperature, security, maximum performance or extended duty, there is a right Digistor storage solution for every industrial storage need.

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Blackmagic’s MultiDock Helps Better Wrangle Data in a Busy Environment

The popularity of using DIGISTOR Professional Video SSD’s for filmmaking shows no signs of slowing down, offering a perfect storage solution for media in television production. Thanks to their superior speed and extremely large storage capacity, even a single SSD is beats out multiple hard disks, due to instantly accessible storage without any mechanical lag. Despite fast, reliable video recording capabilities and effortless playback of compressed or uncompressed video, using a single SSD device can be too limiting in a busy broadcast or post-production environment without the peripheral attachments necessary to streamline your workflow.

Since SSDs were not initially designed for external on the fly storage cartridges, the market has offered limited solutions for attaching SSD devices to your computer.

Enter the Blackmagic MultiDock: Designed to provide an efficient data wrangling solution that meets the needs of busy broadcast and post-production environments.

Edit Directly From Your Disks
Available in two models, the Thunderbolt and Thunderbolt 2, the Blackmagic MultiDock allows users to transfer from up to four 2.5” SSD devices simultaneously, and is perfect for editing, color grading, or any task that requires large video files to be stored on multiple drives. With the MultiDock, you’ll even be able to “edit in place” without even having to copy your material across.

An attractive and compact rack mount design, the four disk docking solution installs in seconds because it uses the disk drivers built into your Mac OS X and Windows Thunderbolt computer.

Although Thunderbolt is a rare sight in the PC world (upgrade cards are available) it’s now pretty much universal in the Macintosh domain. Which means that if you’re an Apple user you now have access to a staggeringly fast, but easy to use, way to connect storage to your computer.

Massive Performance & Volume
But there’s more to the MultiDock than that – it can also be part of a RAID system.

You can not only RAID up to four SSD devices within a single MultiDock, users can also daisy-chain up to six MultiDocks together (there are two Thunderbolt 2 connectors on each dock) for a total of twenty four disks on a single connection.

By minimizing the time spent swapping external SSD drives and transferring media, the Blackmagic MultiDock aims to allow professional filmmakers and photographers more time to focus on what matters – their work.

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Which data storage platform is right for you?

There are more storage options than ever for both consumers and business users, allowing them to customize their solutions as they see fit. The downside to this situation is that an individual can easily become overwhelmed by the sheer breadth of available platforms. Each form of data storage was designed for a particular purpose, so blindly choosing one could result in an unsuccessful implementation. That’s why it’s so important that people do their homework and look at the various strengths and applications of each format before investing in a particular option. By identifying the right tool that matches their needs, individuals and organizations alike can get an optimal solution.

 

The cloud
Let’s begin with one of the more buzzworthy platforms out there. Hosted data storage services have a number of things working in their favor. For one, users can theoretically access their files from nearly any location and with just about any device. However, the cloud has a number of concerns that should give trepidation to anyone considering it as a primary method of storing important or unique documents. Security has long been a pervasive fear in this arena, as cybercriminals have many attack verticals with which to exploit vendor vulnerabilities and tap into user data. Another major concern is the reliability of the service providers in this nascent industry. There have been numerous cases of data storage providers experiencing outages that prevent users from accessing their hosted files. In some instances, vendors have even shut down operations with little to no warning, causing headaches for their former clientele.

Solid state drives
Next, let’s take a look at perhaps the most advanced data storage platform on the market today. Interest in SSDs has grown considerably in recent years as the technology’s manufacturing costs have dropped and performance demands across various industries have increased. As Forbes contributor Jim Handy explained, the enterprise SSD market has exploded over the past several years, going from an afterthought to what was a nearly $2 billion industry in 2013.

SSD devices offer many advantages over traditional hard disk drives, particularly regarding read and write speeds. HDDs are hampered by their reliance on physical internal components. Whenever a user attempts to copy or load a stored file, they must wait for these devices’ read/write heads to move into position. The physical limitations of HDDs make them ill-equipped to cope with intensive workloads or critical processes. SSDs, meanwhile, use NAND flash technology to store data onto individual nodes. The removal of moving parts allows these devices to quickly launch important applications or boot up a computer’s operating system.

This feature also makes SSD drives much more durable than HDDs overall. PCWorld contributor Lincoln Spector cautioned that the mechanical nature of HDDs makes them more vulnerable to hardware failure. Read/write heads and magnetic platters can be easily damaged, resulting in gigabytes or terabytes of lost data. Because SSDs don’t have these concerns, they can provide their users with far more peace of mind. This ruggedness has made high-performance SSD drives ideal for intensive industrial operations where working environments can feature extreme conditions and maximum uptime is essential. For the average consumer, however, the level of quality offered by these devices may be unnecessary.

Blu-ray discs
Where can consumers who want the affordability of HDDs but are concerned about their durability turn to? The answer may seem unlikely, but Blu-ray has proven itself to be an invaluable data archiving solution in both consumer and enterprise circumstances. Blu-ray strikes the right balance between scalability, ruggedness and affordability, enabling users to painlessly expand their archiving efforts without ever worrying about the integrity of their data. This way, if a primary storage device like an HDD ever malfunctions or becomes corrupted, a backup will be readily available.

Ultimately, the right storage solution comes down to the individual or organization. Entities with high performance needs and intensive workloads will likely want to incorporate an SSD drive in some capacity. Meanwhile, users running lighter workloads may be content to lean on a regular HDD while taking advantage of a Blu-ray archiving solution. Regardless of the needs of a particular entity, the right combination of devices and platforms will make all the difference in the world.

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Long Lost Star Wars Short Is Finally Found

Fans of the Star Wars series are no doubt excited by the recently released teaser trailer for next year’s blockbuster ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens.’ Yet, white-knuckling through a year wait is nothing compared to the nearly three decades that die-hard fans have anticipated ‘Black Angel,’ Lucas’s famed long-lost short that briefly saw silver screen action in 1980.

A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, George Lucas commissioned ‘Black Angel’ to be paired with ‘The Empire Strikes Back’ in theaters. The 25-minute fantasy epic was the directorial debut of Star Wars‘ pioneering set decorator Roger Christian.

After it screened in cinemas, it suddenly vanished. For years, no copies could be located. The film only existed as a rumored relic in fanboy conversations. Well, until recently.

Christian says that he had an original negative and print copy of the film, which he kept at London’s Boss Film Studios. But the studio went bankrupt in the 1990s while Christian was out of town on a shoot, and ended up tossing out his belongings. When he began writing his upcoming tell-all book Cinema Alchemist, Christian inquired with Fox to see if they had any copies left.

He learned that all of them had been thrown out as well after the film elements’ storage facility, the former UK studio Rank, had shut down in the same decade. The Lucasfilm Archives couldn’t locate their copy either. Christian assumed the original elements of the film were lost forever.

Keeping Your Own Masterpieces Safe & Sound

Few fans aside from film buffs know Lucas himself was a frontrunner in digital cinematography, challenging the supremacy of film in the late ‘90s, with ‘Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace.’

His seamless blending of digital footage with that captured on film was so successful that Lucas went on to film its sequels completely in digital format, ensuring no other films were lost. However, the archiving technology that could have prevented ‘Black Angel’ from disappearing hadn’t been developed yet.

How Black Angel got lost and then found is still unknown, but its journey is a clear case for shooting digital and careful archiving are necessary to protect your own footage.

To ensure your own films don’t make fans wait as long as ‘Black Angel,’ DIGISTOR offers Professional Video SSD drives, which have up to 480GB of capacity for the most reliable way to capture uncompressed video.  Recording digitally also makes easy access to multiple reliable storage drives essential to capture and early archiving stages of footage. For video crews that use multiple cameras on each shoot, DIGISTOR offer multi-packs of SSDs to handle the even larger amounts of footage.

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Blu-ray continues to wow data center users

Blu-ray has experienced a resurgence in popularity over the past year, thanks largely to its value as a cold storage platform. Organizations with intensive data center demands are turning to optical media as a platform for data archiving. Blu-ray sits head-and-shoulders above other optical formats, providing a combination of capacity, scalability and durability that will meet the needs of many businesses. Facebook has been at the forefront of this movement, taking major strides in the development of data archiving solutions built upon Blu-ray.

Most larger operations are beginning to see their data archiving demands increase dramatically. As more companies rely on data centers to process massive volumes of incoming information, they may struggle to cope with data that no longer serves an immediate purpose but may need to be retrieved at a later date. Perhaps no other business exemplifies this as well as Facebook. TechTarget reported that a single sysadmin must oversee as many as 20,000 servers, on average. Altogether, the social media giant has hundreds of thousands of servers running in its hyperscale data centers.

It’s no wonder that Facebook has so many servers at its disposal when one considers how much information is coursing through its data centers. As CNNMoney explained, the social network’s user base has uploaded more than 400 billion images since the service went live. Those rates have shown no signs of abating, either, as approximately 350 million images are added to Facebook every day.

Blu-ray offers durability, affordability
Many traditional archiving methods are not up to the task of accounting for this surge in data. Often, they cannot provide the degree of scalability or affordability needed to support a large operation. Facebook technicians recognized this problem and subsequently looked to Blu-ray as a viable alternative.

“Blu-ray discs offer a number of advantages versus hard drives,” CNNMoney stated. “For one thing, the discs are more resilient: They’re water- and dust-resistant, and better able to withstand temperature swings. … Because the Blu-ray system doesn’t need to be powered when the discs aren’t in use, it uses 80 percent less power than the hard-drive arrangement, cutting overall costs in half.”

The ability to reduce energy consumption rates with Blu-ray cannot be overstated. Data archiving is a critical aspect of data center operations, enabling businesses like Facebook to transfer rarely accessed data to less active servers. The problem with keeping these files on active servers is that the associated software must also be running to make them available to users. That would be pretty inefficient considering only 8 percent of images uploaded to Facebook account for its traffic, according to CNNMoney.

If organizations fail to make effective use of their data center assets and unnecessarily leave servers in an active state, they will consume a massive amount of energy. This will have a dramatic effect on a business’s bottom line as it must allocate a large chunk of revenue toward paying utility bills. By embracing Blu-ray as a platform for cold storage, companies can efficiently archive data and lower their energy usage.

Make smart choices when it comes to data storage
With today’s information-focused business environments, no data can simply be discarded, even if it shows no immediate value. At the same time, it’s important that businesses approach data storage needs with an eye for efficiency. Continually running active servers to host unused information will hurt an organization in the long run. Implementing data archiving solutions designed around cold storage will help companies strike the right balance between availability and affordability.

Blu-ray is quickly establishing itself as the ideal platform for these types of archiving efforts. This media format is both extremely durable and easily scalable, helping data center operators to address their cold storage needs without putting the integrity of their data at risk or making further expansion impossible.

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What makes your Industrial SSD most vulnerable?

Unlike volatile RAM, a well-made SSD is meant to look after itself and your data. That means the ideal state for your industrial SSD is actually powered up! In fact, apart from any abnormal environmental stresses, such as exposure to static, extreme cooling or heat, your industrial SSD is designed to self-maintain for many years. But if a powered up state is optimum, and powered down doesn’t create any wear and tear, when is your SSD most at risk?

Getting from one state to another is when an SSD is its most defenseless.

While the drive writes very quickly, an unexpected power loss creates a moment of intrinsic risk for flash storage for two main reasons:

  1. SSDs perform more read/ write intensive tasks than HDDs: Because an industrial SSD is responsible for more complex internal data management and housekeeping, at any given point in operation, your SSD is likely performing vital tasks. With complexity comes risk, and it’s imperative that the SSD’s designer thoroughly design in what should happen in the short period of time in which circuits can still respond to controls.
  2. There can be billions of bytes in an industrial SSD: Many getting accessed faster than the speed possible by a spinning disk hard drive. All of this action must be managed when the industrial SSD system changes states.

This means an SSD must use a wider range of power control schemes to protect against possible power drop offs during the write operation to the NAND Flash.

How to get it right?

Designers of high-quality industrial SSDs understand that some data corruption is possible when power is interrupted – despite the best efforts of the SSD’s manufacturer.

But the key to creating a reliable and durable industrial SSD goes beyond design, to testing: Applying variable types of power disruptions at any times in the SSD firmware.

A top-end industrial SSD has been designed and tested to make the difference between how much data in your SSD is corrupted and whether the SSD itself is usable when the power comes back up.

If you’d like to learn more about Digistor’s industrial SSD solutions, call our sales team at 1(800) 816-1886.

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