Thursday, February 5, 2009

Back That Thang Up!

I hope you will forgive my lengthy absence from this blog, I've been on that roller coaster known as ISDN. Thankfully, the ride seems to be over and I will soon blog about all the things I've learned over the last few months about setting up home ISDN.

In the meantime, I wanted to blog about a recent experience I had regarding backing up my audio files. I could easily be called paranoid when it comes to backing up computer data. Not only does my computer back itself up to an external drive at 2am every morning, I also save important Pro Tools sessions and finalized mp3's to a second external hard drive. I've always worried that someday a client would return to me needing a very old file, and I wouldn't be able to find it.

Starting this year, I've decided to purchase an external drive to hold all the files for each individual year. That way I know exactly where to go to find old files. I haven't decided yet how long I'll hold on to files- but I'm guessing around 4 years or so.

Now on to the story that prompted this blog. Last week I received an e-mail from a client I had recorded a character voice for last June. It was being used on a DVD animation for a children's product. The product is close to being released and they were making some final edits on the animation.

For some reason, their file of my audio had developed a glitch and they needed me to send a new copy of the original file. It took less than an hour for me to break out my 2007 external drive, plug it in, do a search for the file, and re-upload it to my ftp. Needless to say, the client was very pleased!

The way I see it, a 500GB external drive is around $120. One of these can hold most of my files for the year, and it seems more than worth it to me.

In fact, now that I've added ISDN to my studio, I've decided to record all sessions on my end as well. That way if they accidentally delete theirs, or have any problems- they've always got mine as back up!

As Julia Roberts once said in the movie, 'Pretty Woman'..."I'm a safety girl!" (Although this line was said in a little different context- I think it still works here- hah!)


Arielle said...

I don't think you can ever be too safe with backing up files. :) I use and highly recommend a RAID. It's basically 2 identical harddrives housed in the same enclosure, that can mirror each other so you always have 2 copies of everything. This is what I use for my working drive, or current projects. Once something is completed or it's time to free up some space, I burn the data off to DVDs. With a RAID, the benefit is that if one part of your harddrive starts to go bad, you can always get your files back from the other harddrive. It may sound like overkill, but I think you would appreciate the safety of a RAID!

Kara Edwards said...


Thank you! That's great advice- I'll be checking into it!


VoiceOverForYou said...

Kara, I'm a "back up person" too, but your idea of "A Hard Drive Per Year...That's All We Ask" is brilliant! I'm tracking with you and shall do the same!

Kara Edwards said...

Thanks Brian!

The idea came to me this year as I was looking at all the files from last year- there were enough to fill an entire drive. So it hit me- why not have a drive each year so when clients come calling- I know just where to go! And, I can keep them all boxed up safely in the back corner of the room- nice!

Thanks for the comment!

LindZ said...

Very good idea. I too save everything, and I'm probably going to start doing the same thing. I recently got the dreaded pop up that said I had limited space left on my C drive. A search revealed that I had less than 500MB of space left on my entire computer! That's bad!

rowell gormon said...

you're the second friend who's mentioned this "overnight backup to external" system. i may have to do something similar, since i'm about to start work on a year-long project with lots and lots of audio.

i've also wondered about buying a lot of usb flash drives and keeping various clients/projects boxed and filed that way.

glad to hear a story about finding an old file that actually had a happy ending! you fooled me.

Greg Houser said...

Couple of things:

not all RAID configs are the same. Make sure you're not getting one optimized for speed vs. one for redundancy. If you know what you're doing, try one of the RAID + configurations. I use a 0+1, which allows for improved speed (like a RAID 0 config), but with a redundancy built into it.

BTW: RAID can be on more than 2 drives. 4 is what most folks use when using a RAID config geared for redundancy.

Running a backup every night is also a great idea. Most people don't use their computers late at night, so you're not interrupting anything. For those who use a network storage device, this is very nice since you can simply run it as part of a batch process. That said, if you're backing up your OS (and you should be), you're going to want to do so in a manner where you have a few on hand to use as a poor man's "time machine" in case your system ever runs into problems. This way you have a few choices to choose from in order to find your last, best, working configuration.

Clonezilla and Ghost are the best home solutions IMO right now and can write to HDD, CD/DVD, Flash, or network storage device.

Now here's the fun part. At least once a year, you want to use a backup OS in order to be familiar with your particular SW, and to know what what you're doing works. Yes it's a risk if you only have one system, but it's better to know the problems during a time when you've planned to test the system, opposed to finding out that your backup solution is ineffective when your back is against the wall.

Sorry, I live with terms like "Continuity of Operations" and "Disaster Recovery" as part of my job. You get into this stuff after a while =-)


Kara Edwards said...

LindZ, Rowell, and Greg- thank you for adding to the conversation!

Greg, that is all very useful information- thank you. I have thought about adding a second back-up SW for that very reason. While I know mine has worked in the past, it could stop working at any time and I may not know it. Having 2 different back-up systems is just extra security, something we can certainly use in our business!