Cherished music from the past…and a little reminder to protect it

I have a sad tale that many musicians share: I once lost ten years’ worth of digital recording files due to the unexpected failure of an external hard drive. I had chosen carefully, protected the drive from the usual threats (heat, surge, virus, etc.), and it was only about three years old, which is about middle-aged for a good drive. But it was devastating: many of the best recordings of my career were on that drive, and no copies have surfaced. (Sigh.)

More than ever, we are dependent on technology to create, store and deliver our performances to listening ears. As I recently purchased a new portable drive (pictured) for a specific backup project, I am reminded of the essential knowledge that every musician should have. If you’re going to accept responsibility for the durability of your recorded work, please, please:

  • Make sure your files are backed up in at least two secure locations.
  • Use secure passwords.
  • Budget to replace your drives regularly. (Conventional wisdom seems to be about every five years for an external HD of good quality, but advice varies. Do your own research to see what the current norm is, or just be really conservative and replace often.
  • Keep it organized, so you can find what you need, when you need it.

When parts of your soul live in bits and bytes, they need special protection. Make sure your musical children have excellent nannies and live under a strong roof. Just sayin’.

3 thoughts on “Cherished music from the past…and a little reminder to protect it”

    • Absolutely. Funny, I was actually assuming that would be one of the options people would choose. but it should have been stated more clearly within the article. In practice, it seems that more people now are backing up to the cloud and nowhere else, and having a local backup is still recommended. Whatever you choose to do, make sure you’re backing up your backup!

    • Thanks, Suz! It’s absolutely true: this mindset issue occurs in many professions, and is equally treacherous in each.

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