Back It Up!

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In digital audio, your console file, DSP configuration, amp settings, gear configurations, and digital audio files are the source of your income. They should all be protected, so in the case of accident, theft, or failure, the show goes on. If your whole show exists only on one USB stick, you’re doing it wrong. If it isn’t backed up in four different ways, you’re not protected.

First, back it up onto your computer. Keep all your relevant files organised in one place so you can get to them quickly in an emergency. Organise them by date so you know which version is which, covering you for replicating the latest or reverting to an older copy. Make sure you’ve also got whatever relevant software is needed to upload files into the device, and its installer.

Now, copy it all to a cloud backup. iCloud, Dropbox, Google Drive, One Drive – doesn’t matter, just as long as you can get to it with an internet connection.

Next, back that whole folder up onto an external device like a USB stick or portable hard drive. This is the copy that comes with you to the gig. If your computer breaks or is lost, you have another way to get your data back.

Then, copy it all to another USB stick or external hard drive and put it somewhere safe in another location that you can get to in a dire emergency –at home, the hotel, your checked luggage as opposed to the one in your hand luggage. If you absolutely have to do, you can make an emergency run to retrieve it.

Be careful what kind of USB stick you use for your console files. A lot of cheap and nasty ones can corrupt data, or simply not work in your audio console. Buy a reliable name brand, and test it in your gear. Always format the stick that you’re going to use to save and load show files in the desk, not on your computer.

While you can get some pretty large capacity sticks, keep it as small as you need. Console files aren’t that big, and more capacity brings more room for data errors and corruption. Some consoles aren’t built to address whatever the largest stick is on the market at the moment, as they were usually only tested up to whatever capacity was available when they were designed.

Both external and internal hard drives wear out eventually. Cheaper magneto-optical drives can stop spinning without warning. Solid State Drives (SSDs) are very reliable, and are good for the road, but expensive. Get the best you can afford, and check their health regularly.

Noisegate is an Australian based collective of working musicians, producers, DJ’s, and live audio professionals.

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