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The Data Babysitters

At recording sessions we aim to ensure that the music and performance are front and centre. In the background, however, as the recorded takes accumulate, all of that creative work is preserved only as data, and lots of it.

It’s said that there are two kinds of people: those with good data backups and those who are yet to experience inevitable catastrophic data loss! We’re glad to be in the first group. We’ve never experienced catastrophic data loss; we’ve spent time ensuring that our systems are robust. To guarantee recordings are safe throughout a project, we split our data handling into three categories: onsite backups, offsite backups and data redundancy (error correction systems).

At recording sessions we make a live onsite backup by recording to two hard drives simultaneously. Where possible we add an offsite backup; automatically uploading each take to our office over the internet as soon as it’s been recorded. When the sessions are over and we’re back at base, the data is copied to our high speed Production NAS (Network-Attached Storage) which backs up daily to a secondary Storage NAS. As well as providing another copy of the data, this secondary Storage NAS satisfies our data redundancy requirement by running a RAID6 configuration, meaning that two of its hard drives could fail and all the data would remain intact.

At this point the data is in at least four separate places (the two portable session hard drives, the Production NAS and the Storage NAS). While this sounds great there’s one more crucial stage needed as all four data copies are in the same location and therefore still susceptible to physical catastrophes like fire or flood. To combat that we have a Backup NAS that lives offsite, to which our Storage NAS backs up daily. This Backup NAS also runs RAID5 for additional data redundancy.

The thought of losing some or all of the recorded files from a session doesn’t bear thinking about, particularly when working with something as ephemeral as a musical performance. Whoever you choose to make your recording, ensure they take data backups seriously.

Photo of hard drive by Art Wall - Kittenprint on Unsplash

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