Survey Participants Needed on Digital Storage in Media and Entertainment

Tom Coughlin, Coughlin Associates Inc.,

Since 2009, Coughlin Associates has conducted a survey on digital storage use by media and entertainment professionals.  This survey is intended for media and entertainment professionals and is designed to determine the industry’s digital storage needs and expectations for the capture and creation of raw content, editing and post production, distribution of content, digital archiving as well as digital conversion and preservation. The results of the 2022 survey will be used to create the 2022 Coughlin Associates report on Digital Storage for Professional Media and Entertainment. Here is the survey link:  A summary of the survey results will be made available to survey participants. The survey will stay open until June 1, 2022.  For more information on Coughlin Associates go to

Here are some results from the 2021 Digital Storage in Media and Entertainment Survey.  These participants were involved in a broad range of M&E projects from film to TV to short features.  The bulk of the participants were from North America and Europe with some participants from Latin America and Asia.

Figure 1 shows the percentage of various recording media used by the 2021 survey recipients in professional video cameras.  Since the 2010 survey, Flash Memory has dominated as the storage media for professional video cameras.

Figure 1.  Percentage of recording media in professional video cameras.

Figure 2 shows that for the 2021 survey participants there were a general increase in the use of shared network storage, such as storage area networks (SAN) or network attached storage (NAS), and a decrease in direct attached storage (DAS) storage as the number of people working in a post-production facility increases.  The DAS storage in the larger facilities may be different than that used in smaller facilities and it looks like DAS use in larger facilities only declines to about 35%.

Figure 2.  DAS vs. Share Storage and Number of People in a Post Facility

90.5% of the 2021 survey participants used DAS with 87.3% of these participants having more than 1TB of DAS with 1-50TB being the most popular DAS size.  About 15% had more than 50TB in 2021.  36% used flash memory in their post DAS.  About 52% had a NAS or SAN in 2021 with about 48% of these users having 50TB or more of network storage.  About 26% had more than 500TB of NAS/SAN storage.  About 32% had 1TB or more of cloud storage

About 32% of survey participants said that they used cloud-based storage for editing and post-production in 2021.  This was down from 50% in 2020.

Following are survey observations for electronic content distribution (such as video on demand).  For the survey participants the average hours on central content delivery systems was about 886 hours in 2020.  There was an average of 287 hours of content ingested monthly in 2020.  In 2021 21.0% of respondents had more than 5% of their content on edge servers.  About 20.0% used flash memory on their edge servers in 2021.  In 2021 21.0% of survey respondents said that they used flash memory in their central delivery servers.

Following are some observations from the professional media and entertainment survey on trends in digital archiving and content preservation.  The ease of capturing and storing digital content has encouraged many facilities and organizations to store more of their raw captured content and even copies of all their distribution formats.

About 27% had >2,000 hours of content in a long-term archive in 2021.  73.3% archived all the content captured from their cameras in 2021.  About 75% archived copies of content in all of their distribution formats.  About 43% of the respondents said that their annual archive growth rate was >6% in 2021.  About 16% added 1,000 hours or greater to their archive annually in 2021.  About 9% of survey participants had >2,000 hours of unconverted analog content in 2021.  The average rate of analog to digital conversion was about 4.0% in 2021.

Figure 3 gives the percentage distribution of archive media used by the survey participants.

Figure 3.  Percentage of Digital Long-Term Archives on Various Media

Among the survey participants External HDDs were the most common archive media at 25%.  Digital Tape was the third most common storage media at 22% in 2021, following local storage networks at 23%.  11% used a private or public cloud for archiving in 2021.


Some other observations from the archive and preservation section of the survey:

  • About 36.4% never update their digital archives in 2021
  • About 67.4% used different storage for archiving and working storage in 2021
  • About 54.6% copied and replaced their digital long-term archives every 10 years or less in 2021
  • 7% said they would use a private or public cloud for archiving in 2021


In 2018 Tom Coughlin presented 9 years of results from the survey at the SMPTE Technical Conference, which was published in the SMPTE Technical Journal in 2019.  You can view and download the results from the 2021 survey at:


About the Author

Tom Coughlin, President, Coughlin Associates is a digital storage analyst as well as a business and technology consultant.  He has over 40 years in the data storage industry with engineering and management positions at several companies.

Dr. Coughlin has many publications and six patents to his credit.  Tom is also the author of Digital Storage in Consumer Electronics:  The Essential Guide, which is now in its second edition with Springer. Coughlin Associates provides market and technology analysis as well as Data Storage Technical and Business Consulting services.  Tom publishes the Digital Storage Technology Newsletter, the Media and Entertainment Storage Report, the Emerging Non-Volatile Memory Report and other industry reports.  Tom is also a regular contributor on digital storage and memory for and other blogs.

Tom is active with SMPTE (Journal article writer and Conference Program Committee), SNIA (including a founder of the SNIA SSSI, now CMSI), the IEEE, (he is past Chair of the IEEE Public Visibility Committee, Past Director for IEEE Region 6, Past President of IEEE USA, Chair of the IEEE New Initiatives Committee and active in the Consumer Electronics Society) and other professional organizations.  Tom is the founder and organizer of the Storage Visions Conference ( as well as the Creative Storage Conference ( He was the general chairman of the annual Flash Memory Summit for 10 years.  He was also an adjunct professor in Electrical Engineering at Santa Clara University.  He is a Fellow of the IEEE and a board member and currently chair of the Consultants Network of Silicon Valley (CNSV).  For more information on Tom Coughlin and his publications and activities go to

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