Still Shipping Media with Hard Drives?

Physical drives with an arrow pointing to page screens showing the replacement of physical drive files

How Signiant Replaces Hard Drives and Creates Less Friction

The advantages of replacing physical transport drives with an internet-based alternative are as clear as a blinking neon sign: speed, reliability, security, control, visibility and improved client experience. If you’re still using physical media to transport or restore data, you risk converting the aforementioned advantages into major disadvantages.

Transport hard drives are still commonly used today, but the need and advantages are more and more a perception rather than the reality. The media world, its business models, and your own workflows have rapidly changed. Transport drives may have made sense a couple of years, ago, but it’s time to re-examine those perceptions around — speed, security and savings.


Even a small production company shooting eight hours on three cameras can easily generate 800GBs of material or more a day. Larger companies can easily generate terabytes of data that need to get somewhere fast. Sending by drives often means waiting on drives. Precious hours go by waiting for the shoot to end, copying to a transport drive and sending it out.

Large media files take time to copy to a transportable disk. Not only at your end, but when the client or supplier copies them at their end. And that doesn’t account for the time it takes to actually get there — not only has COVID slowed global supply chains, but you still have to account for delays in customs, flights, and compliance.

With modern accelerated file transfer tools, a file can be made available to partners and production teams worldwide, quickly. You can be sending files before the shoot is even done. While your drive is just there…waiting.


Physical media might have served you well in the past, but you won’t realize what a precarious position it might have you in until things change. The time when you absolutely need to rely on data fidelity and accessibility is the worst possible time to discover your transport, backup or disaster recovery model isn’t sustainable.

When a disk leaves your premises it’s in the hands of the shipping or courier company. You have no control over where they are or who might have access to them.

If the drive falls prey to theft or damage, that means starting the process all over again on top of the damage to your reputation and production.

Short of some sort of manual check-in process (which is likewise open to abuse or error), there’s also no way to track chain of custody over physical media. If the disk falls into the wrong hands you won’t have any way to know.


How many drives do you have to keep buying per year?  How many go bad or are never returned?  How much time is lost?

Size does matter. A drive may be fine if you’re sending it to one partner. What happens if you have 30 partners? Are you going to keep a fleet of drives operating, copying that file over and over again? Sending that file once to every partner at the same time just makes sense. And FedEx bills don’t appear to be getting smaller.

Client Experience

Savings is not always a line item in a budget. Savings also means saving your brand, your reputation, and your clients. Not only is receiving and copying data from drives cumbersome and time-consuming, but you’re also losing a little-considered marketing opportunity.

Signiant makes it easy and delightful to share content with partners. Branded portals put your organization in the best possible light to any partner you need to share data with, making transfer not just easy but professionally presented.


Sending smaller clips or scenes for approval often doesn’t require an entire physical media transport job.

During principal photography, where producers are most cost-conscious, the last thing the production can afford is to stop while waiting for dailies to be delivered. Files can be delivered as dailies, to producers, for transcriptions, to sound and video editors, to legal teams, etc., before the shoot is even done.

Feedback Loops

Once shorter clips of footage are sent for review, they can be just as easily transported back to the production instantly from the studio or production company with comments and notes annotated to the footage for action.

Post Production

Making sure the right people at post facilities have the correct access to footage for visual effects or post production is critical from a security perspective, control you lose if you’re shipping physical media.

Then there’s the other security risk — can you completely trust a courier driver who knows they’re carrying the latest hotly-anticipated superhero movie in the back of their van?


If content needs to be delivered to multiple regions, you are likely working with localization resources in scattered parts of the world. Physical media can be a big challenge in terms of time, cost and tracking in localization workflows. If your localization teams are global — a different group for each part of the world, that’s a lot of drives to send. Every version you make may mean another drive to send. Sending drives when you have more than 5 versions is cumbersome and expensive — imagine if you had more than a hundred!

Online file transfer enables a single transaction with complete access control for every user at the other end, with files available to all the providers who need it all at once.

The Future

If you’re still using physical media, it’s time to look at the cost savings, security, reliability, and ease of accelerated file transfer tools like Signiant.

It is time to re-examine the true cost of shipping physical drives. The number of steps needed to ship a physical drive versus using Signiant’s fast file transfer products makes it a no-brainer. There are fewer moving parts, less people involved, and far fewer variables in which things can go wrong. In short, there is less friction to overcome.

Get in touch with us to learn more about how Signiant solutions can help you replace or augment your physical media.

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