DSLR Video: CRU-DataPort ToughTech QR Duo

by Ibarionex Perello

April 01, 2012

One of the most important considerations of shooting video on location is the method used to back-up the recorded footage. Just as still photographers have learned, backing up one’s video files before returning to the studio provides added insurance against possible catastrophes. 

The CRU-DataPort ToughTech QR provides a solution that many thought was relegated only to their studio’s desktop computer system. It does that by providing an extremely portable RAID system that can easily fit in a camera bag.

Measuring 3.5 x 6.25 x 1.34 inches and weighing 4 pounds with two 2.5-inch SATA drives, the ToughTech Duo provides photographers and videographers the ability to set-up either a RAID 0 or RAID 1 storage system virtually out of the box, without the complications that have easily intimidated those less tech-savvy creatives. 

The unit can be purchased with or without drives, but the unit I received for evaluation included two 7200-rpm 750GB drives, which I quickly configured as a RAID 1 system. (The unit is also available with dual 250GB or 500GB drives.) By setting the unit as a RAID 1, I was able to create automatic redundancy for data that was stored on the first drive. So assuming that I had not deleted the images or footage from memory cards, I would have two separate hard drives that contained all my data.

The benefit of such a set-up is that, should one of the drives fail, there would be no loss of data. Instead, I could simply install another 2.5-inch drive, preferably of the same make, capacity and speed, and the unit would automatically rebuild or mirror the healthy hard drive. A great advantage of this is that I could continue transferring data to the ToughTech Duo, even while it was in the midst of rebuilding.

This ability is a significant advantage for those working in the field for long periods and who prefer to FedEx back-up drives to their studios to protect the data should the drives, computers or cameras they are working with in the field be lost, stolen or damaged.
Setting up the unit with a RAID 0 configuration prioritizes capacity over redundancy, which could be a viable choice if you are producing large quantities of content. However, considering that there are likely less expensive large capacity single drives available, the reason to invest in this unit is its ability to be easily configurable and portable as a RAID I system.

The ToughTech Duo provides several interface options including FireWire 400 and 800 as well as USB 2.0 and eSATA. The FireWire interface allows for bus power, eliminating the need to use the supplied AC power cord, which could be critical when on-location. The AC adapter come supplied with adapters to accommodate the most common power outlets you might encounter when traveling abroad. Though not currently available with a Thunderbolt interface found in certain Mac laptops, I hold out hope that such a model might be in the works.

Installing and removing drives is as simple as ejecting a drive cartridge and unseating the drive. No screws are required, though they are supplied for those users who desire the added security.

The enclosure is constructed using an all-aluminum design, which helps to dissipate heat, a critical consideration for any drive-based back-up system. Its construction helps to maintain temperatures well below the tolerances of most hard drives. It also eliminates the need for a fan, which helps to keep noise levels down.

The units LCD screen provides an easy to navigate menu for setting up the Touch Tech Duo, while also displaying operating temperatures for both drives. This display, as well as the red and green indicator lights on the face of the unit, provide important status information as the health and the performance of the installed drives.

Because it supports FireWire 800 and includes a drive that performs at 7200rpm, it is possible to use this as a scratch drive for in-field video editing. The high data transfer rate and the speed of the drives worked reliably for me, when the drive was configured as a RAID 0. This may be of interest to those who produce and output content on very quick turn-arounds and want to minimize the weight of the gear they carry.

Though I had always been aware of the advantage of utilizing a RAID system for securing data, I had always been intimidated by what was involved in setting one up. The ToughTech Duo eliminates such concerns by being virtually ready to use straight out of the box.

The small form factor, easy setup and straight-forward interface makes this an attractive choice for creatives such as destination wedding photographers and videographers who don’t have the advantage of immediately returning to the studio after a shoot. Knowing that valuable data is safeguarded on two separate file drives can make it a worthwhile expenditure.

The ToughTech Duo QR can range from an estimated street price of $371 (without hard drives) to $760 with two 750GB drives.
You can find out more about the product by visiting www.cru-dataport.com.

Ibarionex Perello is a photographer, writer and host of The Candid Frame Photography podcast (www.thecandidframe.com). He is also the author of Chasing the Light: Improving Your Photography Using Available Light.

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