Judy Rodman - All Things Vocal Blog

Training & insights for stage and studio singers, speakers, vocal coaches and producers from professional vocal coach and author of "Power, Path & Performance" vocal training method. Download All Things Vocal podcast on your fav app!

Saturday, January 22, 2011

When your music backup is... not

 Producer/Engineer Ronny Light doing the other creative thing he loves

From Judy: 
I don't know about you, folks, but my voice and my music (not to mention press photos, videos, schedule, so much more) are located in files on my computer that I don't want to lose. (Understatement!) So face it; all of us singers and speakers need to know how to back up our computer files safely. Go into any store or website with computer, music or office gear and you can generally find all too many options for backing up. How do we choose?

Safe backup is the focus of my guest blogger's post today. Ronny Light is known to many of us as the angel tech guru from heaven when we need him. Many thanks to
him for allowing me to share with you his warning and advice about backing up.

From Ronny Light:

Thou shalt know thy backup...

   …but not trust it.

I’ve run into a lot of backup issues in the last year and heard backup problems from people you would think would be on top of a backup strategy. Here are a few stories.

Leo Laporte has the top tech podcast in the world and has been answering questions about computer issues, including backup plans, for decades.  Leo had a RAID 1 backup (Redundant Array of Independent Discs) that copied data to different drives.  If one drive failed, the data could be recovered from a duplicate drive.  When a drive did fail, Leo, of all people, discovered his RAID 1 backup system hadn’t been working for months.

A friend in Nashville had a RAID 1 backup system.  He discovered, before a disaster happened, fortunately, that his RAID 1 system hadn’t worked in months.

A friend used the highly respected Retrospect software to backup.  At some point, they found the software hadn’t backed up in months.
A friend bought two new HP computers with external HP hard drives that were advertised to backup “all the files on the computer”.  Not so.  The software that came with the external HP backup failed to back up a number files, including .exe files.  The software didn’t backup entire hard drives or folders, just file types, and .exe files and others were not included in the backup.  I don’t know about you but, if a backup system is supposed to backup all the files, I expect it to backup all the files    

What’s equally bad is how the backup program handled its job.  When you backup, you have a source drive (the drive with the original data) and a target drive (the drive the data is being backed up to).  With this backup software, if you remove a file, by accident or on purpose, from the target drive, you’d think the next run of the software would see the file was missing from the target drive and replace it.  It doesn’t.    

My friend’s second HP computer, one I didn’t look at, was later found not to be backing up at all.   

A friend used Microsoft’s free SyncToy to backup his computer.  I tested the software and found it had the same problem as the HP software- remove or damage a file on the target drive and the next run of the software wouldn’t replace the file.  It already backed it up once; isn’t that enough?
One friend trusted Carbonite as their only backup; another friend just started using it as an off-site backup.  Those people need to listen to the attached MP3 of a call to Leo Laporte’s The Tech Guy.  How embarrassing for Leo that Carbonite is one of his sponsors and he repeatedly tells listeners it is practically failsafe.  It isn’t.  By the way, I do believe in off-site backups but not as the only backup.  Carbonite was the only backup for the person who called The Tech Guy.  

What do all of the backup systems above have in common?  They are all quick, automatic and require no action or monitoring from the user or an IT.  Most people trust the systems and never check to see if they’re really doing their job.  And they have all failed for friends and high profile tech people in the last year.  The worst time to find your backup system wasn’t working is after a crash.   

I tested about a dozen different backup systems and use ViceVersa Pro.  It’s a $60 program that can be run on a couple of computers. 

ViceVersa Pro can do several types of backups but I only use one: Mirror Image.  It makes the target drive or folder(s) the same as the source drive.  The backup software never changes the source drive.  If a file on the target drive gets damaged or is removed, the backup sees the change and replaces the file.   

When you run a ViceVersa Pro Mirror Image backup, the software first scans the source drive and the target drive to see what has changed on each drive.  That scan can take a couple of minutes or more, depending on the size of the hard drive or folder(s).  Files can be compared by file name, date and time of last change, and file size.
The downside, if you’re lazy, is that you have to be an active participant in backing up your data.  You decide when the backup runs.  You have to say yes or no to a few simple steps along the way.  It doesn’t automatically backup, or fail to backup, at 7 pm.    

The upside is, this is not an encryped or incremental backup.  If you have an encryped backup, you don’t really know if all your files are there until you have a crash and try to recover from the backup.  With a Mirror Image backup, you can look at the source hard drive or folder(s) and see the same files in the target hard drive or folder(s).  You can compare the number of files in the source and target and you can compare the size of the source and target drives.

How long does it take to do a ViceVersa Pro backup?  I typically record 1 to 24 tracks of huge audio files for three hours at a time.  When we break for lunch, I backup everything I recorded for the last three hours.  Backups happen before my clients can get ready to leave for lunch and they never know that their three-hour session is already safely backed up.  At the end of every day, I backup again.    

You’ll only lose the data you didn’t backup or the data you thought was backed up but wasn’t.     

 PS... folks, heading Ronny's advice, I use ViseVersaPro and love it... and I run Carbonite, too. I figure it can't hurt to have two completely different methods of backup. What about you? - Judy

Labels: , , , , ,


  • At January 23, 2011 at 9:09 AM , Anonymous Arne Benoni said...

    Ronny rules! 

    He told me about the backup software but (shame on me), I forgot about it. I back up to my server but this seems more efficient, so I’ll get it this time.

    Have a great Sunday,



Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]