By Trent Rentsch
When it comes to getting sick, I don’t do it half way. There were, in fact, concerns that I might not make it to 14, but despite the best efforts of my appendix, here I am. That’s not to say that I haven’t been so sick that I wished I was dead a few times since. At the moment, I’m coming back from a combination that included a sinus infection, bronchitis/pneumonia, and shingles. Any of them are no fun on their own (shingles, especially… get the vaccine, trust me), but the full house laid me low for a couple of weeks, and I’m still working on getting back to full speed after a month of this nonsense (shingles… vaccine… get it). But you know what really made me sick? What was waiting for me when I got back to work.
I knew something was wrong when my computer took longer than usual bringing up my email. It’s a fairly new machine, less than 6 months old, and had been a speed demon up to that point. But since it had sat idle for a week and a half, I figured it just had to wake up… hell, I was running slow, why not my computer? Then, it locked up. OK… well, I probably needed a reboot too, so…
It would not reboot… no way, no how. Safe mode, you say? Nope. Not an OS to be found… and then I heard the quiet click of a hard drive, breathing it’s last. Sigh. Well, WELCOME BACK TO WORK. Luckily, my laptop is set up to be a backup machine, and I had, of course, backed up all my files…
… and those last two statements were a lie. I wish they were true. The truth is that I scrambled to make my laptop a semi-useful solution until HP sent a replacement drive (which, kudos to them, I had in my hands the next day), and I hadn’t backed up my files in 6 MONTHS. So, yeah. (Insert really bad word of your choice. I used them all).
To those of you shaking your heads at me right now, I understand. I know better. I’ve lost primary drives before… hell, I had no business using the primary drive as my audio drive, and I certainly should have been running a backup constantly! But, I didn’t, and now my computer and I are both recovering at the same time.
The moral is simple enough… BACK IT UP. However, it’s a little more complex than that.
I was extremely lucky. It was a slower week at work, and the other guys could pick up my projects while I scrambled to reinstall Pro Tools and all the other bells and whistles I use on a day to day basis (BTW, THANKS Guys). I mean, if you’ve installed anything Avid lately, you know it’s less plug and play than ever. The other piece of luck was that my older backups had all my templates, so while I lost 6 months of sessions, I got back up and running relatively quickly. Still, if I could turn back time…
First, I wouldn’t have broken the cardinal rule… install a secondary drive, devoted to audio/sessions only. Was the daily multi-tasking workout I was giving that broken down drive a contributing factor in its demise? Who knows, but it couldn’t have helped. It’s easy to take computers for granted these days, but they are still somewhat delicate, and it’s just smarter to let your work reside on a drive other than the one running your Operating System.
Second, I would have set up a constant backup system. Now that I’m older and wiser, I actually have dual backups… one, an external drive at work, and the second, a cloud drive that resides at home. The programs that came with the drives made it simple to set up the process, and both update overnight daily, so in another computer disaster, the worst that I could lose is a few hours’ work. Overkill? Perhaps, but I’m sleeping better than I have since the “event.”
Third, I would’ve had my laptop computer loaded up and ready to instantly replace my desktop machine. Yes, I can work out of my home studio, but most days I really need to be in the office, and running back and forth is impractical. Had I set up everything I needed in advance on my laptop and made sure it was running, getting back to business as usual would’ve been as simple as plugging in my backup drive, audio interface, and iLok.
When a piece of gear is as mission critical as a computer is, it really can’t be taken for granted. When it is, it’s only a question of time before a cavalier attitude towards backing up work comes around to bite you in your assets. If you don’t have a backup plan, get one in place, now. Oh, and don’t forget that shingles shot.
Trent Creates words, voices, audio and music. His professional home is Krash Creative. You can mock him for his cavalier attitude towards backing up work at: