This is a topic that may seem like it should be found on an IT website, but I assure you this is an increasingly critical topic to understand if you’re working with audio, presentations, or lighting.
The reason is simple; now that we’re using computers to do our audio mixing, our lighting control and our graphics presentation, we need to develop strategies for backing up those show files.
This article was inspired by a tweet I saw last week.
Someone mentioned that their lighting console just crashed and they lost 2 hours worth of work.
The fact of the matter is, computers do crash.
And when they do, data will be lost. How much data is lost will depend on how well we’re backed up.
I really like the 3-2-1 backup strategy which has been greatly elaborated by Richard Anderson in his workflow for digital photography. Simply put, you need to have 3 copies of the file, on 2 different media, at least 1 of which is off-site. This protects you not just against hard drive crashes, but other disasters as well.
Right now, I feel like we’re doing about 1/2 a good job at backup here at Coast Hills. Our SD8 is well backed up, so I’ll use that as our example. The SD8 is basically a Windows computer (running XP Embedded) and as such, it’s networkable.
So network we do!
We have a Mac Mini running Win 7 at FOH that we use as remote control. When we mirror that computer to the SD8, the show file is transferred to the Mini. From that point forward, we have 2 copies of the show.
At the end of a weekend, we sync our SD8 Projects folder with a DropBox account. We now essentially have 3 copies of the file locally (1 on the SD8, 1 in the Projects folder of the Windows 7 machine and 1 in the DropBox folder).
It’s also synced up to DropBox in the cloud, and synched back down to my laptop, my Assistant technical Director’s laptop and my Windows 7 virtual machine in Parallels. So that’s more like 7-2-3. If you’re not familiar with DropBox you should check it out. It’s actually been covered here on ProSoundWeb before, and best of all it’s free!
With this system, our SD8 hard drive could completely crap out, and we won’t loose anything.
We could also have an issue with the FOH remote machine and we’d still be OK.
Also, even if a current show file became corrupted, we have multiple backup copies of our baseline and older shows on DropBox. So I feel like we’re pretty well covered.