Never lose a music file again – backup!

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World Backup Day

Somewhat unexpectedly, today is “World Backup Day“ – the international day for data backup. Actually, this post was planned for the coming week, but with such an event day, I prefer this topic. Especially since I learned for myself yesterday that there is such a day at all. And now this day is just today.

Data loss - a disaster!

Have you ever suffered from data loss because your hard drive gave up or you even lost your computer?

Data loss can happen faster than you think. And if you don’t think about backing up your data, it’s already too late. So take some time to find a solution for your situation if

  • you don’t have a backup at the moment,
  • you have a backup without a regular execution,
  • or you only make a backup regularly.

Everybody makes mistakes and you may have already deleted something that is actually still needed. You may think that certain recordings or files are no longer needed and later it turns out that exactly this data would be very useful right now.

And programs have their weak points and make mistakes too – and suddenly the last recording is no longer there. A hard disk can have a data error or fail completely. And if this is the internal hard drive or even the hard drive on which all just finished recordings are located, the trouble is worse.

Unfortunately, in life you don’t only meet people who are well-disposed towards you and who take something that doesn’t belong to them. If thats is your computer with all important data, you probably have one more problem than just your last recordings.

Then there are also the hopefully never occurring catastrophes like fire damage, water damage or a lightning strike in the power line. Against this you are hopefully insured, but the insurance company will not be able to recompose your new song or replace other data.

So “BackUp” is a very important and also sensitive topic that everyone should take seriously who works with important and personal data on the computer. No matter if it is about demo recordings, recordings from a recording studio or the final album of your own band. And of course it’s not just about audio data, but also planning files, contact lists, pictures, texts or access data to important accounts.

Backup options

“A truly secure backup doesn’t exist until you have three indepented backups.”

Diesen Satz habe ich selber vor Jahren in einem Computerforum gelesen und empfand es im ersten Augenblick etwas übertrieben. Aber wenn man einmal einen Datenverlust gehabt hat und das erste und wohl möglich einzige Backup beschädigt ist, wird man mehr als nur dankbar sein, mindestens eine weitere Datensicherung zur Verfügung zu haben.

Festplattenspeicher, vor allem in Form von HDD-Festplatten, kosten heute keine Unsummen mehr. Worauf es nun ankommt, ist wohl eher die Planung wie die Backups verwaltet werden und in welcher Häufigkeit – also in welchen Abständen eine Sicherheitsspeicherung angelegt wird. Im besten Falle läuft dies möglichst automatisch und organisiert im Hintergrund ab.

Es gibt diverse Möglichkeiten BackUp-System aufzubauen, doch man muss dies auch in einem überschaubaren Rahmen halten, wenn man selber nicht gerade ein IT-Experte ist.

An dieser Stelle möchte ich dir die BackUp-Möglichkeiten vorstellen, die ich selber seit Jahren einsetzte – und zum Glück bisher nur in ein paar seltenen Fällen, für eine geringe Anzahl an Datensätzen nutzen musste. Da ich seit 2007 ausschließlich einen bzw. mehrere Macs nutze, sind diese Varianten auch auf den Mac bezogen. Aber natürlich lassen sich fast alle Möglichkeiten auch auf der Windows-Ebene umsetzen.

(1) Backup – synchronization of audio data to a NAS system (automatic).

I have all my active DAW sessions on an external 512 GB SSD drive and all samples and my music library on another SSD drive. These are copied to a Synology NAS system at the end of each day using a Mac app (Tri-BackUp).

The app is set up, that when I quit my DAW (in this case Pro Tools), the backup starts automatically and shuts down the computer on its own when finished.

However, only the changed audio and sample data is copied here, so the process usually doesn’t take too long.

The NAS system also serves me as a home server for all data such as pictures, videos and music as well as an archive for completed projects. Through the connection to my router, I can access the data with all my devices in my network.

(2) Backup – mirroring of the NAS hard disk (automatically).

My current NAS system from Synology has 2x 3TB hard drives on board. Disk 1 is the data drive and disk 2 is a 1:1 mirror of drive 1. So if backup drive 1 fails, all data is available again on drive 2.

(3) Backup – external hard drive (5TB) using Apple’s Time Machine (manually)

There is no denying that the Apple Time Machine feature is really handy. However, there was a note from Avid for Pro Tools and earlier Mac OS not to utilize Time Machine. You can disable the auto-backup feature of Time Machine and so I use Time Machine manually at least 1x a week on an external USB-3 hard drive or start the backup feature when a major editing day has been completed. Under the Time Machine settings, you can specify which hard drives to capture and which to exclude. I used it for the entire computer and the connected SSD hard drives with the audio files.  Thus, I also have access to the recovery of the operating system and also access to all other data that is on the internal SSD and external hard drives.

(4) Backup the OS to external hard drive (manually).

For another backup of my system SSD, I also use the program Tri-Backup to have a bootable copy of the OS. This bootable backup also goes to an external USB3 hard disk and is copied at least 1x per month or before and after important installations like an update of plugins or programs that are used regularly.

(5) Online backup

At the beginning of 2020 I chose an online backup service from the company pCloud.

Practical here was especially the possibility of complete encryption of all data before they are uploaded into the cloud. In addition, it is a provider with servers in Europe and I can be sure that the GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) is fundamental here. For backup, the storage is done in parallel with the app Tri-Backup, but only on selected and relevant folders, preferably audio data.

And if the entire computer fails?

That would be of course a “worst case” scenario, but thanks to the backups, I have all the data needed to at least quickly continue the upcoming production on another computer. Whether I use my private MacBook, borrow a computer or even have to buy a new one – in all cases I could resume work within a day at most. So I wouldn’t have to explain to anyone that they can’t meet their deadline because I had a data loss and my customer doesn’t get the mix I promised them in time.

Solution & conclusion for a backup

So a structured BackUp planning is not to be neglected. And if it is only the minimum before a backup – e.g. on the MacOS by a Time Machine backup to an external hard drive. In addition to my previous list, I would recommend you to perform at least a separate physical backup and a storage of important (audio) data in the cloud.

  1. Stage – Backup of the most important data on an external hard drive
  2. Stage – Online BackUp of the most important data (observe data protection!)
  3. Stage – Copy of the 1st backUp (e.g. mirroring of the disk in a NAS system)
  4. Stage – Bootable startup volume to be able to resume work quickly

Links

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Questions & Feedback

  • Have you already suffered a data loss? 
  • Which backup option do you use in case of data loss?
  • Do you have questions about a backup strategy?

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