When you’re recording music, you’re writing data to your hard drive (or flash drives, as the case may be) at incredible rates. Changes to effects, audio files, and settings are constantly being applied. Data backup is usually the last thing on a producer’s mind, but it shouldn’t be: a sudden hard drive failure or computer lock up could permanently change a song, ruin takes and more.
Therefore, it’s best to think about your data backup method as soon as possible, so that you can concentrate on the music. Here’s a few tips for professional and home recording studios looking to avoid data loss.
1. Using backup programs. There are a number of backup programs available that can handle all of your audio files and workstation files (be sure to save both separately, and make the audio files full length–when you go back to mix in the future, you might be using a different program). They work by automatically sending your data to a secure storage server online, or to an external hard drive connected to your computer. These are a great option for home recording studios, in particular, because they don’t cost much and they’re fully automatic.
However, since bckup isn’t absolutely constant, you’ll still risk losing a few hours to a day’s worth of work if your computer breaks down during a recording session. To avoid this, set the program settings to perform backups as often as possible. For good backup programs, check out DataRecovery.com, Carbonite.com, and similar websites.
2. RAID Arrays. Professional recording studios should invest in RAID arrays, particularly RAID 0 and RAID 5s. A RAID array is several hard drives that work together as a single drive, but if one of them fails, it can be replaced without data loss.
I’d have to get a bit technical to explain how this works–suffice to say, it’s the safest hard drive based backup possible, and it’s completely automatic and constant. Several companies sell RAID arrays, and they’re not necessarily too expensive. You could invest in an external RAID 0, then connect it through Firewire 800 to your studio. This will free up space on your computer’s hard drive, and provide your studio with a perfect data backup solution.
3. Regular checks. It’s important to regularly check your data backups to make sure they’re working properly. Once a month or so, fake a data disaster and try to recreate your sessions from your backups. This is a great habit, and will minimize the amount of time you lose if your computer actually fails.
4. Archiving. Once your recording project’s complete, it’s important to make two archive copies. These will allow you to go back and re-edit, re-master, and remix your tracks whenever you’d like. It’s always a critical step, because you never know when your latest home recording will go platinum (and even if it doesn’t, you might want to change something for a re-release at some point). You can archive to DVD by burning a few copies of all of your audio tracks, or you can always simply save everything to an external hard drive and store it. In any case, always archive. It’s inexpensive, and it’s an important part of the process.
Do you know of any other ways that recording studios can avoid data loss? Post in our comments section below.