studio backups

Kim Cascone kim at
Sun Feb 1 23:05:09 GMT 2009

> What tools might these be?

well I've only recently delved back into the Windoze battlefield  
(after being away since 2001) as I've been given the task of  
maintaining my son's new XP laptop

there is a little app (if you dig deep enough) called Backup in XP
it took me all of an hour to find it, grok it and get it backing up  
to a 500G USB drive

on the OS X front (which is where I spend most of my time)
there is Time Machine, Disk Utilities, SuperDuper and Carbon Copy  
Cloner to name a few

I don't know ONE pro or semi-pro musician who doesn't backup their  
main machine as well as their session drives -- mostly they've  
learned to do this the hard way
and back up on a daily or weekly basis

I've found that most musicians back up their assets/deliverables to  
hard drive and/or burn it to DVD's

> In any case, neither of these helps you if your hard drive dies,  
> unless you are
> saving the data to an external source, which requires someone to  
> make a
> change to the config, which most people don't do.

I haven't used Time Machine so I can't comment on how that works
but I've had no trouble setting up my son's XP lappy to back up onto  
an external drive
it makes no sense to backup to the same disc you are backing up -  
besides unless you config this with excludes it sounds like a  
recursion nightmare

if someone is backing up to a local drive they should be instructed  
to stop doing this immediately
and buy an external USB drive for $50 and back up on that instead


as for documentation:

I wasn't referring to commercial audio apps here but yes there is  
much crap documentation in the commercial neck of the woods

I have a friend who works at Digidesign who (used to) rewrites crap  
when we worked at Headspace he was finishing the Deck manual and had  
just started working on the Cubase manual (this is circa 1997)
which if I remember correctly was a train wreck on paper and drove  
him crazy

but what I was referring to are all the little Linux apps made by  
bedroom coders with poor writing skills
I've worked with tech writers and have a great deal of respect for  
what they do
to be fair not everyone has the skills to do this
but developers should let their community add to a living document  
online in the form of a WIKI
so that it can gain from the experience of people who use the tool in  
a variety of settings
and can document the odd cases where something doesn't work and  
provide steps to work through a problem

in any case,
I've tested Clonezilla and this seems to be a good Linux app for  
making a clone
one must read through the manual a couple of times in order to parse  
the instructions

also, there is Quickstart (I posted this separately) which allows you  
to use either tar or partimage for backing up
both Clonezilla and Quickstart have a UI and are fairly easy to use
I've made tars with Quickstart and images with Clonezilla
but have not tested them yet by restoring them
next week I'll get to this

> clone/mirror/backup are different things that are suited to different
> tasks.
one man's clone is another man's backup
peoples needs are complex enough so that these functions intersect to  
a varying degree
my own needs have changed -- from running my own company to working  
as a film sound editor to working in audio software to being a  
professional musician in my home studio
but in all cases my basic need was the same:
to protect my data by making copies of it on other media

and throughout that time I've gone from copying data to floppy discs  
to Syquest drives to zip drives to CD to DVD to USB sticks etc etc
so as technology advanced the needs changed and vice versa

these days I work one a single laptop so I tend to work from an  
external disc that I've partitioned into backups and sound projects

other musicians have different scenarios that require them to back up  
to another machine, across a network or backup certain files to one  
place while others go another etc.
many of the commercial tools contain enough of a feature set that  
allows people to select a subset of functionality that meets their needs

although I 'clone' my drive each night it serves as my 'backup' -  
i.e. if my drive fails I can go to my image and restore it onto a new  

in any case, I feel Ubuntu lacks a backup tool (ala Gnome or KDE)  
that gives new Linux users an easy reliable way to backup/clone/image/ 
snapshot/whatever without the pain and frustration of remembering all  
the switches for tar, rsnapshot, rsync, dd, dump, partimage or whatever


another thing I've been researching since my reentry into Linux land:
bootable rescue USB sticks

I plan to make one for ubuntu-rescue or sysresccd later

if and when your machine goes south
its good to have tools that you can boot from to help you  
troubleshoot problems
maybe some of the more experienced Linux musicians can share how they  
recovered from system and/or hard drive failures in the studio?

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