6 Best Backup Strategies for Music Producers

Learn how to create a backup and recovery strategy to protect your data when disaster strikes. This guide lists six excellent backup solutions.

Laptop Backup Hard Drive and Headphones

Backup Guide for Music Producers

You know the feeling: You wake up almost falling out of bed with excitement to continue working on your new song. However, you turn on your computer only to see…. nothing. The worst has happened. Your hard drive failed! Panic sets in when you realize you may have lost everything!

Although you correctly saved your project, you never saw this coming. “It would never happen to me,” you always thought. But now it has.

While technology has only been getting better over time, it’s never immune from failure. For us music creatives, there may not be a worse feeling than seeing hours, days, weeks, and even years of work go down the drain. Knowing how to properly back up your data will save you a lot of heartaches. You’ll also be thankful you started backing up as soon as possible (even if you never end up using it).

Why You Should Backup Your Data

It’s crucial to have a backup system in place. Don’t risk losing all your irreplaceable data and work. Plus, you never know when you will lose something, accidentally delete something, or when a hard drive will fail.

In most cases, backups will serve three distinct purposes:

  • Protect all your data when disaster strikes.
  • Allow you to quickly get up and running again if equipment failure occurs.
  • Create archive copies of your work for future reference.

With today’s backup software and careful planning, establishing a backup strategy is easy to achieve. By combining different backup methods, you can also create an effective backup strategy that meets all your needs. You can even automate your backups for convenience or to avoid human error.

The 3-2-1 Backup Strategy

Having a backup and recovery system takes more than buying the right hard drive or using cloud storage. Responsible data management is about having a system that protects you from losing your data when disaster strikes.

The 3-2-1 strategy is a best practice for backup and recovery. This effective and robust backup strategy involves:

  1. Keeping at least three copies of your data. For example, the original copy and two backups.
  2. Keeping the backed-up data on two different storage types. Storing your backup on two different types of storage is safer than using the same storage type. Therefore, if you have data stored on an internal hard drive, make sure you also have a secondary storage type. For instance, an external drive, flash drive, or cloud storage.
  3. Keep at least one backup offsite. Even with two copies on separate storage types, a local disaster could wipe out both drives. Keep a third copy in an offsite location, like cloud storage.

The 3-2-1 backup strategy may seem overkill. However, it’s the best way to ensure you have a copy of your data no matter what happens. Multiple copies prevent losing the only copy of your data. While multiple locations ensure there is no single point of failure. Your data is safe from disasters such as fires, floods, and theft.


The Different Backup Options

There are three main backup options: cloning, imaging, and cloud storage. Understanding what each technique involves and how they are different will help you can make an informed choice.

Disk Cloning

Disk cloning creates an exact copy of your drive. This method copies the information needed to boot the drive itself, all system files, and file directories that store your plugins, samples, etc.

The main benefit of cloning is that it minimizes downtime. The clone is an exact functioning copy of your original drive. For instance, if your hard drive fails, you could remove it and replace it with the cloned drive (assuming the clone is recent).

Cloning can get you up and running quickly, but it doesn’t offer as much flexibility as disk imaging.

Disk Imaging

Disk imaging creates a compressed “snapshot” of your drive. This file includes all the data stored on the source hard drive and the operating system information needed to boot. However, you cannot boot from this drive. You would need another drive with the appropriate imaging software to restore a bootable image.

Additionally, most imaging software allows you to create various versions. You can restore from a version you backed up a week ago or a year ago. For example, having the option to save multiple images is helpful if you download a virus and need to restore an image from two days earlier.

Another benefit of disk imaging is the ability to store the image file remotely. Using compression reduces the file size and allows you to move images to other drives or the cloud.

Cloud Storage

Cloud storage services store your data on offsite servers. This method can offer basic storage to upload your data to full-on backup solutions with imaging and cloning features (or both).

The biggest benefit of cloud storage is that it’s offsite and away from local disasters or theft. And if something happens to your drive, you know the data is safe! Another benefit of having your data in the cloud is the convenience of having an uninterrupted workflow. You can download samples, music projects, and files from the cloud wherever you are. No dongles or external hard drives necessary.

Backup and Recovery Solutions

There are a variety of great backup and recovery solutions out there. And yes, you can simply copy files onto an external drive and call it a day. However, that method can be tedious because you would have to manually transfer files every time you want to back up data.

Below are six excellent backup solutions for MacOS users:

1. Time Machine (Disk Imager)

Built-in to MacOS since Snow Leopard (MacOS 10.5), Time Machine has been a staple backup solution for everyday Mac users. Time Machine takes incremental snapshots of your drive. It also gives you hourly backups for the past 24 hours, daily backups for the past month, and weekly backups for all previous months.

Time Machine is a simple and effective backup solution for Mac users. With simplicity in mind, you can “set it and forget it” (so long as the backup location is connected). Time Machine will then automatically backup your data moving forward.

However, the number of backups it can store depends on the available backup drive space. For instance, if your backup drive runs out of space after a month, you’ll only have access to that point. Moreover, Time Machine will delete the oldest image to make room for new backups.

2. Carbon Copy Cloner (Disk Cloner)

Carbon Copy Cloner (CCC) by Bombich Software has been around for over 15 years. It’s a Mac enthusiast favorite because it offers a range of features. For example, you can schedule backup tasks at certain times, like once a week or when the hard drive is plugged in. It can also notify you with a reminder to do a backup, so you don’t forget. Although, one of the best features is its built-in “Snapshot Support” imaging. This feature allows you to “turn back the clock” and restore files from a previous moment in time.

3. SuperDuper! (Cloner and Imager)

If you’re looking for a simpler cloning solution to CCC, then try SuperDuper! It’s a great alternative and the user interface is super straightforward. You simply select the source drive, the drive you want to copy to, and what you want to back up. For example, all files, selected files, etc. You can also begin the backup immediately or schedule it for another time.

The best part! All those actions come with the free version of the program. If you want to get more technical, you can pay for the full version. However, the free version is more than enough for basic backup needs.

4. Acronis (Imager, Cloner, and Cloud)

Acronis is among the best of the best with backup solutions. Their base plan offers both imaging and cloning backup options to local and network drives. While their higher tier option provides cloud storage. This plan is essentially the same as the base plan but with the option to back up to the cloud. To add extra peace of mind, the data saved on the cloud is also end-to-end encrypted. This protection means the data cannot be opened if it were intercepted.

5. Backblaze (Cloud Storage)

Backblaze is a cloud backup software solution with awesome security and recovery features. For a few dollars a month, you have unlimited cloud storage for every one of your files. This includes all files stored on your computer and attached external drives.

Also, if you need to restore, you have the option to either download a zip of selected files or pay for a USB flash or hard drive they mail to you as fast as overnight (dependent on data). One of the sweet things about this mail service is Backblaze’s “Restore Return Refund” program. It delivers a full refund for the price of the drive if you return it within 30 days.

On the security side, Backblaze gives you the option to encrypt the mailed drive and your cloud backups. They also have two-factor-authentication, which adds yet another layer of security to your data.

6. Splice (Cloud Storage)

Designed specifically for computer musicians in mind, Splice is a cloud-based backup solution that works through its app. Once you have the app installed, you can create a Splice folder that backs up all your projects. You can also have it backup projects from any folder, regardless if it’s in the Splice folder or not.

Moreover, the Splice application saves incremental versions of projects every time you save the project. For instance, if you want to load a previous version, you can download it from the app or site.

Besides backing up your projects, Splice also offers features such as sharing your project with collaborators and leaving comments on individual project versions. Also, Splice supports Ableton Live, FL Studio, Logic Pro X, GarageBand, and Studio One.

Conclusion

Proper backup practices might not be the most exciting part of music production, but it’s necessary. Spend time thinking about your backup strategy and make sure it works! Know how much backup space you need, what backup drives and services to purchase, and how robust you what your backup system. Most important, back up frequently!



About Icon Collective

ICON Collective is a Los Angeles and Online music production school that teaches you core technical skills while unlocking your unique creative process. Mentorships with industry professionals let you access real-world insights and help you personalize your music education. Check out our Music Production Programs.





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