The Sooner We Start Treating Drives With The Same Respect We Had For Tape The Better

08-04-2014 03:44 PM

Some of us are old enough to have worked on tape, it was all we had for many years. Making music cost money, even for demos. For a session in a full blown studio tape was part of the cost, no tape, no tracks. In the early 1990s a reel of Ampex 456 2” was around $200 and gave you around 15 minutes of 24 tracks.
I’m not here to lament the demise of tape, plenty of other people can do that for me. What I am here for is to lament the demise of the respect we had for tape.
Never has it been cheaper to capture a performance and store it on a hard drive, but it also seems that we think that we can treat disks as cheaply as they cost and forget that what those disks contain is priceless.
It’s not just music, I’ve forgotten the amount of times I’ve sat in post production suites and had the rushes from a shoot turn up on a drive, often in the bottom of a runner’s backpack or simply posted through the letter box in a Jiffy envelope. They often have no back-up, no labelling and those sending them to us had little thought about loss or damage to the drives.
Hard drives may be cost effective, but I’d like to give some suggestions for taking care of the assets they contain. If you run a professional studio then:

  • Buy 2 drives for each project, one for the project and one for the back-up of the drive.
  • Physically label the drive with a sticker and pen.
  • Digitally label everything on the drive.
  • Lock up the drives in a safe place that is both water and fireproof, keep a second copy at a different location.
  • Use cloud based storage to keep a third back-up of the work.
  • Archive projects after the job has finished and make a copy of those too.
  • Keep a log of your drives and have people sign drives in and out.
  • Before you send, ship or post any assets make sure you have back-ups and they have been tested.
  • Teach all your staff to treat drives with respect and care, instill that into your business.

I’m sure plenty of people who are reading this already do what is written above - you’re smart.
This weekend I backed up 8TBs of files to new drives. It took the weekend, but had I lost the data I couldn’t have got it back in a lifetime. Discuss.