Alan's Pro Tools Storage And Backup Setup
Following on from Mike Thornton's article, here's my Storage And Backup Strategy.
The first thing to say is that over the last nine months, I have moved studio twice, so my storage and backup strategy is a little, how should we say, in the air at the moment.
However, this is how I'm currently coping, and what I'd like to implement -
Studio System -
- Windows 10 Pro
- 1 x 256GB SATA3 AHCI SSD System Drive 550MPS Read / Write
- System Image regularly backed up, especially before upgrades
- 2 x 256GB SATA3 AHCI SSD's Media Drives 550MPS Read / Write
- 1 x 500GB SATA3 AHCI SSD Media Drives 550MPS Read / Write
- Mirrored to 4TB RAID 2-Bay Synology NAS (with WD Red drives) using Acronis True Image 2013
- Mirrored to 4TB RAID 4-Bay Netgear NAS (with WD Red drives) using Synology app
- Weekly backup to 2 x external 5GB Hard drives, kept off site.
I have three categories of storage -
- Current Work
"Current Work" is self explanatory. Projects stay in the "Current" zone until they are delivered and finished. My local Media SSD's are my "Current" Zone, and they're constantly mirrored to both my NAS systems.
"Midline" is the section that current work moves to when it's finished and out of play. This gets moved off my local SSD's and on to my two NAS systems and Archive drives.
Once a project is so safely down the line that we're not likely to come back to it any time soon, it gets moved in to the "Archive" section, off the NAS systems, and on to the external drives.
I've Got The Power...
Having said all this, all of us have been guilty of overlooking possibly the biggest thing of all. Power.
The biggest data killer out there is power interruption.
If you're writing to a drive, whether it's solid state or "spinning rust", and the power goes while you're writing to it, you're likely to lose more data than just what you were writing at the time.
The second biggest data killer is power surges.
This is why I have TWO UPS systems at my main facility, and a third at home. They both ensure a constant supply of power, and a conditioned power supply as well.
The first UPS supplies my data rack (pictured at the top) and my internet connection, and is connected via USB to one of my NAS systems. This is so if the power fails, the NAS system keeps an eye on the battery level, and once it reaches a certain percentage drain (in my case 20%), it activates a "safe shut down" - it ceases any write operations, and spins down the drives before shutting down. Remember that NAS systems are simply a small PC with a bunch of drives and a network interface. They are as sensitive to power interruption as any computer. The first NAS system also sends a "power fail" message over the network, which the second NAS picks up, and actions the same process. Finally, the NAS system will attempt to email me to let me know what's happening.
The second UPS supplies my main Pro Tools PC, any connected interfaces or drives, and my screens. In the event of a power failure, I can continue working on headphones for around 30 minutes. If I'm not near my workstation when the interruption happens, it is also connected to the UPS by USB, and will instigate a similar "safe shut down" operation as the NAS systems. If I connect my laptop in the studio, I supply it from the UPS outputs, including any connected interfaces such as docks.
Remember, using a laptop doesn't fully protect you, as most docks and decent interfaces are externally powered, so if the power goes, your dock will no longer work, and any drives or connections you have will suddenly unmount.
Overkill? Maybe. What I know is that I haven't had any data loss from power interruptions or surges since I started this strategy. The main issues I've been having are with bus powered drives.