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Backup Backup

a man that didn't back up his audio files

This topic is boring, I know, but they aren’t going to tell you this one at recording school and it won’t make a cool YouTube video for your favourite audio influencer bro, so no other fool apart from me is going to talk about it. But, since you're here let me share some tales of woe to convince you to do what you should be doing anyway: Backing that shizz up. We're reliant on thousands of files today, from session projects to sample libraries to all those special drum samples you've collected over the years and would be lost without.

Many years ago, I took on a young guy as an intern who was doing great..then one day he somehow managed to wipe the audio drives. I don't know how. Not only wiped, but formatted them. He was a great kid, and literally ran out the door in near tears. He lost his own entire bands album project he was recording as practice, and a few other bits and pieces I had to explain to clients so it wasn't a total disaster but even so, it was a nightmare for him - a whole drive and a situation he felt he couldn't come back from. This was also my fault as back then it was more of a pain as we archived to DVD-ROM and slow USB drives so the backup drive was also in the same machine and not external. It’s never a glamorous part of the job, but is very necessary and nobody is in the mood at the end of a long day or when they are super excited about some new song they made.

Pro Tools also sometimes seemed to have some idiosyncrasies (and yeah, was prone to user error!) if a drive should mysteriously drop off the chain at some point and write files to strange locations which didn’t follow the project if you copied the folder and didn't make a full “save session as” backup and you weren’t paying attention. If the session is over a longer period of time, the more often this happens. I have seen more than one upset person as they realise they wrote audio to the system drive of some studio’s comp, or some other disk that weren’t supposed to and couldn’t get it later. I always freak out when I see an engineer drag a session folder over to a drive to back it up as I have seen it happen too many times, and it did on one of my projects this year.

When flying, always make sure you have a set of backup drives on you AND another in luggage. This still doesn’t mean that you won’t get a call from some producer or their assistant asking if you still have a copy three times over the next six months and get to know the motorcycle courier who picks it up at 7am each time as you stand in the hallway half asleep in your underwear.

Another client of mine for ten years had a very, very weird method of working. At the end of the session, you'd pretty much print a 24 bit stereo mix, put it on a CD-R, and that was that. The next session, if there was one - began by importing that mix....and overdubbing on top. The first time this happened I was surprised. And the second, get the picture. Over the years, I usually tended to keep the sessions too...just in case. Until I had a very busy period, when at some point over the 12 months gap between working on a particular song with him - I couldn't find the session. He wanted to work on a session I only had a 24 bit mix of the previous session of, and all of a sudden that wasn't good enough. This ended a 10 year working relationship, and the loss of a friend because he was pissed and decided to stiff me for the rest of the entire week I continued worked with him, letting me travel an hour there and back daily to his place after discovering this on day one - working happily the whole time - not saying this was his intention like a rat pr**k weasel.

And it's not just people - only last year one of the audio-focused cloud storage companies (and therefore all of the users like you and me) were locked out from accessing their data as they didn't pay the bill to the behind the scenes storage provider - Amazon S3. So, unfortunately even your supposedly bulletproof cloud storage isn't safe! The moral of the tale is always have a backup drive, and always use it, and always make it the fastest you can get.

Hope you enjoyed today's post - if you did there are others for you here on the site. And remember, if YOU need a world class mix - you can always contact me!

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