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Archiving unattached drives..... Modular Synthesizers
Old 28th December 2010
  #1
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lestermagneto's Avatar
Archiving unattached drives.....

ok, i am sure most of us have this issue, : I have loads of old hard drives, and have them all backed up etc, but obviously with 10's of terrabytes of data it is not feasible, meaningful, and is performance deenhancing to have them all "live", so i have a closet full of 250gig drives etc, which i do my best to label and date etc, but what i was wondering is this: what is the best software, or is there one, to create an index of the contents of all these drives, so that when i am looking for an old song or project from 2007, i could enter the name into a field and it would tell me which drive it was on, and then i could go find it and access the material? I use the macosx, and i don't use time machine, rather super duper, so i am not looking for answers that would require time machine etc,.... how are you guys doing this or dealing with this problem?

i appreciate all ideas in advance! and happy holidays.
Old 28th December 2010
  #2
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synthoid's Avatar
 

Boy, I really doubt you'll find (commercial) software that does this for you.

What I would do is

-mount each drive
-do a full listing of the diretories on that drive into a file, and name the file after the drive (e.g., name the file according to the serial number of the drive). On MacOSX, I would do this in the Terminal app (found in the Utility directory under Applications) this way:

Code:
cd /Volumes/<drive name>
find . -type d -print > /Users/yourname/ContentsOfDriveSerialNumber.txt
The idea is to use 'find' to list out each and every directory on the drive, and store all that in a text file associated with the drive. (The "-type d" is for directories. If you want every file on the drive listed as well, just leave that off.)

Then to find a project, you could just type something into Spotlight and look for one of these "contents" files. (Spotlight will index the contents of the files as well as their names.) Or you could do this in the Terminal window:

Code:
fgrep -l "projectname" Contents*.txt
and it will tell you which Contents files contain the project.

This probably seems a little clunky but I think if you try it you'll see that it's not so bad. Thing is, I don't think there is a ready-made solution that's better than this unfortunately.

-synthoid
Old 28th December 2010
  #3
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This is just my opinion, but I save very little. Why save it? If the mix is done, save the two track mix as a stereo pair audio file. That is all I need. I don't care about the tracks that it took to get the finished mix, I'm never going to dissect and re-record. I know better than to take the liability to save tracks for clients, that's just a lawsuit waiting to happen.

I have kept what is really important to me, and that amounts to a small pile of CDs and DVDs covering recordings made since 1990 and transfers of recordings made back to the 1970s. Not so long ago I started to move them to those black plastic DVD shells like movies come in, with the clear plastic cover. I bought a couple of hundred of these dual disk holders on ebay. That gave me a book-format. I print up a label on regular paper with a spine for a title and a disk directory. I cut the paper down to the right size and slip it behind the clear plastic covering, and put it on the shelf. Had I been a little smarter when I started the process, I would have used a numbering system and saved the data to a spreadsheet as well, but... oh well.

Hard drives do not take to being stored very well. In my studio we used lots of drives. Through the 90s, drive sizes were significantly smaller than they are today and we went through various RAIDs and a fibre channel rig, so we ate up a lot of drive space. Even the best drives failed after being stored for a while. So regardless of what you do to get a handle on what you have, you might consider moving to DVD or some other storage method that does not contain moving parts.
Old 28th December 2010
  #4
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John Suitcase's Avatar
 

+1 for DVD backups, though in my experience the size of the DVD is a little small for audio projects. I think the newer dvd's have a higher capacity, but I have an older burner.

Another consideration is whether you'll be able to open old DAW projects at all. I find that with Cubase, opening older projects created with previous versions can be a bit hairy.

To avoid problems, you'd want to archive tracks as if you were going to send the tracks to another DAW, as contiguous tracks, with the same starting point. Doing this also makes for smaller files, as you eliminate all the unused edits, previous takes, etc. Then, if the DAW project file won't work properly, you can at least import the tracks to another DAW.

As far as who holds the archives, I keep them myself, but I know a number of studios who ask the artist to bring a drive, and keep it.

There are advantages to both approaches, I suppose the ultimate would be to keep archives while also giving the client their own archival copy.
Old 28th December 2010
  #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by John Suitcase View Post
To avoid problems, you'd want to archive tracks as if you were going to send the tracks to another DAW,

As far as who holds the archives, I keep them myself, but I know a number of studios who ask the artist to bring a drive, and keep it.
Yes it is smart to comp the tracks down to finished tracks, and I forget that people don't bother to do this. For me it is unthinkable, just a part of good housekeeping or personal hygiene.

If you hold the "archives" you are legally responsible for their safekeeping. You have a fireproof climate controlled vault? You plan to check them on a regular basis and move them to newer media on a schedule? Keep the projects. Otherwise, send them out the door with the client.

Side issue, you do not owe the client all the tracks, comps, mixes, etc unless you agreed to that beforehand. You owe them the final mix. I have a small handful of clients who I know will revisit a project over time and for them I keep the tracks and edit decision lists and all track notes. But most don't get that.
Old 28th December 2010
  #6
Archiving unattached drives.....

Quote:
Originally Posted by [email protected]

Yes it is smart to comp the tracks down to finished tracks, and I forget that people don't bother to do this. For me it is unthinkable, just a part of good housekeeping or personal hygiene.

If you hold the "archives" you are legally responsible for their safekeeping. You have a fireproof climate controlled vault? You plan to check them on a regular basis and move them to newer media on a schedule? Keep the projects. Otherwise, send them out the door with the client.

Side issue, you do not owe the client all the tracks, comps, mixes, etc unless you agreed to that beforehand. You owe them the final mix. I have a small handful of clients who I know will revisit a project over time and for them I keep the tracks and edit decision lists and all track notes. But most don't get that.
If it works for you, great. Personally I take copies of everything I work on if I can. Hd space is cheap, and if you spin drives up now and then, reliable. I also archive finished projects to DVD.

I'm not legally responsible for backups, but it does make you popular if your client's copy fails. Personally I take a dim view of the few people I know who don't back up everything. If your client comes back to you in a months time, says their copy has failed and offers you a fee to give them the parts, I'd be quids in and bill here would lose out.

Of course the "delete everything except the master" approach doesn't work if it's your own material, or you're a writer more than a commercial engineer.
Old 28th December 2010
  #7
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John Suitcase's Avatar
 

My concern has always been that I have artists for whom nothing is ever 'finished.' I have the pressed CD in my hand, and they call up and want to remix something for a compilation, or ask for a no vocals version, with some added guitar bits for a soundtrack thing. In this era, I think you need to keep an eye towards future use of the tracks, even if you don't think it'll ever come up.

And as has been pointed out, storage space is cheap and getting cheaper.

I suppose I could ask bands to bring a HD, and make them a 'copy' which would be the primary copy for legal reasons, while retaining a backup.

On the issue of legal things (I should start a new thread, or if anyone remembers a good one, refer me) do you have clients sign anything, like a disclaimer, etc? Something saying you're not responsible for lost tracks, or copyright infringement, or gear that blows up, or injured vocal chords from repeated takes, etc?
Old 28th December 2010
  #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by John Suitcase View Post
... I have artists for whom nothing is ever 'finished.' ...they call up and want to remix something for a compilation, or ask for a no vocals version, with some added guitar bits for a soundtrack thing....
Their bad planning is not your problem. It would be wise for you to mention that they might have use for a 'no vocals' mix, though.

In the old analog tape days that everyone cries for so wistfully, only major rooms maintained tape. Most local/regional bands didn't even want to pay for the large format tracking tapes, and these tapes were bulk erased after sessions and re-used by the next low budget band through the door.

Like I said I have some bands that need that service and it has paid off. But it is all known before hand, it is not just assumed that I'll store their work forever because I'm a nice guy.

As to me being 'out' if I don't have this stuff and store it for free, where are they going to go to get the work re-done? Somewhere else? Or to the place that gave them such a good mix that they have further use for the project?

I'm all for value added service, I made a lot of money by providing it. But it was not free, it was rolled into the price. Now I see everybody wanting to do all these things for the clients (which is well and good) while cutting prices and looking for cheap answers to expensive questions and putting themselves into potential lawsuits by not understanding to what they are committing. What is next? Wash their cars? Mow their lawns?

For many years I sold my abilities and my services, because anyone with a deeper pocket book can filed a better gear list. When you are selling ability and service, the services are a line item.

I got into this business because I was a writer and a player. I don't keep my own crap, either.
Old 29th December 2010
  #9
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synthoid's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by [email protected] View Post
Like I said I have some bands that need that service and it has paid off. But it is all known before hand, it is not just assumed that I'll store their work forever because I'm a nice guy.
Well, ok, let's say that it's all been agreed to in advance and you're getting paid to do it. Now you have a lot of disk drives full of projects. They are big enough and numerous enough that writing them all to DVDs isn't practical -- a 1Tb hard drive is about 200 DVDs give or take.

The question is, how do you index the drives? How to organize the stuff?

It's a good question, and really it doesn't have much to do with audio or recording. Video production shops have this problem in spades. It's very tricky to back up and archive these days because hard drives have so much more capacity than anything else.

-synthoid
Old 29th December 2010
  #10
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Rick Sutton's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by synthoid View Post
Well, ok, let's say that it's all been agreed to in advance and you're getting paid to do it. Now you have a lot of disk drives full of projects. They are big enough and numerous enough that writing them all to DVDs isn't practical -- a 1Tb hard drive is about 200 DVDs give or take.

The question is, how do you index the drives? How to organize the stuff?

It's a good question, and really it doesn't have much to do with audio or recording. Video production shops have this problem in spades. It's very tricky to back up and archive these days because hard drives have so much more capacity than anything else.

-synthoid
I do it in a pretty crude way, but it has served well over the years. Admittedly my drives are smaller (250G).
I take screen shots of the drive contents in list mode sorted by name, print them, and compile them in "book" form that sits next to all the drives. I do have to have an idea as to when the project was archived to access it but it has worked well so far.
Obviously this could be compiled in a speadsheet/data base type of program.....I'm way old school!
Old 29th December 2010
  #11
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John Suitcase's Avatar
 

You might try one of the file cataloguing programs out there. I know there are a lot, but I haven't used on myself.

You could also create a spreadsheet, populating it might be a pain, but once it's built, updating it would be pretty simple, I think.
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