There are fairly extensive writings on the importance for commercial studios to make effective backups of all the files they are recording and mixing.
This makes sense, as most of these facilities are working with paying artists, and it is their responsibilities to keep these files safe for those artists.
But that doesn’t mean that it’s not just as important for home recording studio owners to also backup their data. There are many ways to lose data, and each is one of the more frustrating things that can happen in a studio. While these tips may not be novel in any sense, they are designed to keep the importance of backing up your files at the forefront of your mind. It’s all too easy to have the “I’ll do it later” mindset and never getting around to actually making backups until it’s too late.
Again, this is not a new concept, but it is important and often overlooked. If you are recording to an external hard drive (which is mandatory with some DAWs and a good idea in all others), you already have a copy of your files on a hard drive that is not in your computer. However, since this is the only copy of your files you’ll have, you want to have at least one (and ideally more) copies to serve as a backup.
Since you’ll be using your primary external drive consistently as you record, it has a higher frequency of malfunction. That said, you’ll want to update your backup external hard drive consistently so you don’t find yourself in a situation where you’ve lost your original files but your backup is so outdated that it is of little good to you.
While it’s great to have multiple externals, there is always the possibility of malfunctions on all, so it is a good idea to have at least one different medium to backup your work. This can come in the form of a DVD-ROM, optical drives or, increasingly, cloud storage. The more the better, though of course the more diversified you get, the more time it will take to create your backups.
A note on cloud storage: though this is becoming a more viable way to store important files, be aware that there is always a chance these could be viewed by someone else that gets your account information or hacks your service. You may also want to be wary of using any third party software companies that could shut down the service you are using at any time. Still, while you likely don’t want to make cloud storage your primary backup, it is an easy way to make quick copies.
When our Nashville headquarters suffered extensive flooding back in 2010, many home studios in basements were unfortunately damaged or ruined by the gathered water. Needless to say, any backup media that were located in those same basements likely were destroyed, as well.
This is just one example of why it’s a good idea to store your backup media in multiple locations. Again, the more locations the better, though it is certainly not always practical to make a backup of every session and take it to another location.
When it comes down to it, establishing a good and effective routine of backing up your recording data is all about developing good habits. Find times during your particular workflow that makes sense for you to backup the data. One example may be to consider backing up files as part of your “clean up” process as you put away all your studio equipment after a session. Find whatever works best for you, and stick with it and you’ll develop good backup habits in no time.
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