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Do I Really Need To Backup My Files?

Is it really necessarily to backup? That is a very important question. When I’m working on an important project that I just can’t afford to loose, I backup not only at the end, but many times in the early stages and the middle  as well.
There is a saying that more and more people are unfortunately finding true: “If your digital data is not in multiple places,
then one mishap and  it may not exist at all”   I find this to be very true.  Many  people don’t realize the severity of this
until it actually happens to them.  Unfortunately I had a  bad encounter once that really woke me up and
made me realize just how important it is to back up often and to back up your work in separate places.

I’ve been recording music for a quite a while now.  When I first started recording using a multitrack digital  system, I was using a stand alone digital multitrack machine.

AKAI DR8   – A great sounding machine but only could record 8 tracks and was limited to a 1 gigabyte hard drive.

akai-dr8

 

 

 

 

 

This was the mid 90’s and digital hard drives were a fairly new technology then, but were to supersede reel to reels and the popular ADAT digital tape machines to be the thing of the future.  That was a good prediction, because they are  in some form the staple of most all recording studios today.  They didn’t
require expensive tape,  you could back up the hard drive, erase it, and keep recording new projects
over and over again.  The biggest drawback was that this machine which was state of the art in the
mid 90’s only had a 1 gigabyte hard drive, so I had to constantly back up the data at the end of the night so I could be ready for the next session.  This could take upwards of an hour to do so.   Back then that was acceptable though, because there weren’t many options.  That was the biggest hard available for that unit, and that’s how I had to do it.

Then came along  what I though was the answer to end my dilemma of my having to stay up all night backing up data. Before USB was invented there was this new system called…
The “Jaz Drive.”  This was basically an external hard drive that hooked up to the recorder and allowed you to record to external 1 gigabyte cartridges. I thought “wow now I can have a special cartridge for each artist until they finish their project” I could just pop the cartridges in and out and keep going
without having to backup the small internal hard drive that kept getting full anymore. It worked great for a while and I thought this was a great answer to one of my problems until one day…

The “Jaz Drive” with a 1 gigabyte cartridge

jazz-drive

I was working with a talented female singer songwriter who had been recording off and on for about
a month. I had loaded in her cartridge we were recording no problems until all of a sudden the recorder
just locked up. I tried everything I could, and then all of a sudden I got an “error” message on the display. That said the data had been compromised.  Then panic began to set in even though I tried not to show it.
I said to myself  “okay keep calm we’ll let it cool down for a while and come back to it later”.  That didn’t even work. Unfortunately I was never able to retrieve any of her 8 songs she had been working on.
I had to offer for her to come in (free of course) and re-record her songs until she was satisfied.
(Ouch)! I immediately stopped using the removable cartridges and just used the internal drive that was in the machine, even if that meant I had to stay over 1 to 2 hours just backing up the data to dat tapes.

These cartridges costed about $100 each and only held one gigabyte of data!  I later found out that I
was not the only one who had this problem with the Jazz Drive system.  We found  what was happening was that the disk was thinner than normal and tended to warp when it got hot under extended usage.

The One Gigabyte removable cartridge

jaz-drive-cartridge

Shortly after that I got into the computer based Digital Audio Workstation (DAW) type system, where you either use a Mac or PC computer to run the recording  software of your choice.  This type of system
has tons of expandability and I felt would be around for quite a while.

Although we can’t always predict what will be the next big thing, one thing is for sure though….
All hard drives will ultimately fail one day.  Fortunately for us living in 2016 going into 2017 is that
memory is ridiculously cheaper than it used to be years ago.  I don’t mean to sound like your grandparents  when they told you stories of how they had to walk 10 miles in the snow to get to school, and how kids nowaday have it so easy, but in reality it is WAY easier today to make backup copies of your work. In 1995 a 1 gig drive cost about $100.
Now for under $100 you can get a 2000  ( 2 terabyte) gigabyte drive!  It’s also so much easier to back up your data too!  I recommend that you buy  several external hard drives. One for backing up a work in progress and another one for backing up finished projects ect. All you have to do is drag the project folder from one hard to another to make a copy.  What used to take hours to do can now be done in a matter of seconds!

I used to backup to dvd’s so I could re-load the information in later.  That worked for me for a while, but the problem with that is that it is still very
time consuming. The way I do it now is to buy an inexpensive internal hard drive without the enclosure  (You’ll spend  40% to 50%  less for these internal units)
and just pop them into a USB docking unit. They are more vulnerable to damage because there is no enclosure, but if you are not traveling with them in a back pac or the like, they work great.

Internal Hard Drive, and Internal Hard Drive with docking unit. There are connectors pins  in the docking that connect automatically when you plug the hard drives in. I recently purchased an internal 2T  (2000 gig or 2 terabyte) unit recently for under $100 dollars.  Save yourself trouble and grief down the road.  BACKUP, BACKUP BACKUP!!!

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A friend of mine whom had a hard drive fail, had contacted a company that specialized in hard drive
data recovery  from failed hard drives.   He thought this was going to be his answer until he saw what their astronomical fees were!
the fees were.  $2,500 to $ 7,500 to recover the data!   I think it’s a much more better idea to just backup the data so when it does fail, you have another copy!

Remember:  In the digital world, If it doesn’t exist in a least two or three places you may lose it all!

-Eliot Slaughter

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About The Author

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Eliot Slaughter is a Musician who started on piano and developed a passion to record and produce music. A Berklee College of Music Graduate, he has used his musical background and knowledge when he is composing, producing and recording music in his Midwest based recording studio.

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