I’ve heard some horror stories lately from musicians who have lost fully produced songs or entire albums due to hard drive failure. It’s the same tale repeated over and over, “The studio didn’t backup their hard drive and it crashed and my music is gone."
Projects can take weeks, months, years, sometimes decades. Having your own personal copies of your sessions in multiple forms is the only way to ensure you will not lose any data. Sure, any professional studio, producer or engineer should be backing up their hard drives*, but ultimately the responsibility falls on you, the artist, to make sure that you frequently copy the latest version of whatever you are working on, make a duplicate “clone” of your hard drive, and put the whole thing up on the cloud.
Why the cloud? 2 reasons:
In case of a disaster, and all your physical hard drives fail or are destroyed by an asteroid, the cloud will prevail.
Hard drives become obsolete over time due to operating system upgrades. The cloud is always current. I know, it’s a conspiracy to get you to buy things, but it keeps America moving and great!
The good news is that hard drives are cheap and getting cheaper all the time. Cloud storage fees vary, so do some homework. If you're serious about your art and are investing thousands of dollars and hours into creating original recordings then the cost of data backup is just a small, but essential piece of the pie.
My suggestion is that anytime you start a new album, but a 500gb hard drive and copy the entire project folder from whatever studio you are working in on a monthly basis. Create a folder with a date so you know what the most recent version is. This has an added advantage as you can go back to previous versions of your work if something goes awry and you need to get back to a moment in the arrangement that is escaping you in the present.
If you are somewhat tech savvy, I suggest you insist on using your own hard drive for sessions, back it up daily with time machine or other software, and find a cloud storage option. This puts you in control and makes it impossible for the studio to lose your data. The only caveat to this plan is that if you forget your hard drive it’s on you. But a wasted session is much cheaper and less painful than losing months or years of creative sweat and equity.
* studio owners, producers and engineers - back your artist's data up and keep it! It’s not that expensive, and it makes you look good when your clients hug you for saving their work.
Some reputable hard drive outlets:
Some cloud storage options:
I’ve been hearing a lot about BackBlaze from friends and clients. For $5/month you get unlimited storage.
They have a page that compares 5 different cloud storage options: