Secure digital music collection: Tips for backup

To create a music collection on hard disk, a high effort is necessary. This makes it all the more important to have an absolutely reliable backup strategy, which should include several instances.

The central element for mass storage is the hard disk. This also applies to music data which would be seriously endangered without security measures.

From a statistical point of view, the lifetime of a hard drive is limited to five years.

The reason: a hard disk drive (HDD) is an electro-mechanical component with fast rotating metal disks and moving magnetic heads. This causes a natural aging, and after a few years of operation it can lead to a partial or total failure with data loss.

To counteract this, hard drive manufacturers have developed special NAS drives (Network Attached Storage), such as the IronWolf series from Seagate and Red from Western Digital. Such disks run very low in vibration, also the IronWolf HDDs spin up to 4 TByte slower than desktop disks. Of course, this does not matter for listening to music, only data backup and transfer take longer.

NAS HDDs are implemented in a 3.5-inch format, and are specifically designed for continuous operation. This is exactly what 2.5-inch HDDs do not have, even with the same memory capacity they are not quieter moreover new NAS drives comes with come with half the energy consumption.

The TS-251 + NAS server from QNAP fulfills professional requirements and offers extensive features as well as high security for the music data.

Two backups required
Even if a music server – like the X50 from Cocktail Audio – already works with an internal backup concept, the valuable music data must be kept on extra backups.

Professional Sound Engineers and Musicians recommends two independent copies, which are also stored in different locations. Can be achieved with two external HDDs or via the combination of a NAS server for the first instance with a USB disk for the second.

The USB drive is not connected in normal operation and is kept in a safe place. Thus even a complete loss of data would be able to cope with external influences such as fire or water damage.

In addition, the separation from the electricity network provides protection against attacks from the Internet. The data does not have to be saved permanently, but at least when some albums have been added to the music database. For backup with two USB hard drives, they are updated to the current state.

For example, the CocktailAudio X50 has a backup function which only adds new data, but retains the old ones.

NAS servers like the TS-251 + from QNAP enable data backups in the cloud. For this, known cloud services can be used, whereby the backup can be done manually or automatically.

Unlike a USB-HDD, a NAS server is always connected to the home network – even in a non-harsh state. Therefore, switching on and off can take place not only on the device itself or automatically according to a time schedule, but also via Wake On LAN (WOL). A web interface and smartphone apps are available for this standard command and configuration.

Current NAS servers are computers with high computing power, a special Linux operating system and very diverse and useful network functions including the (automated) backup of other important data like private photos and videos. The QNAP TS-251 + requires a single push button on the device for a USB backup.

Caution with RAID
In addition, data storage by RAID (redundant array of independent disks), which means the arrangement of independent disks.

NAS servers are built with at least two HDDs and provide redundancy in RAID-1 mode because both disks contain the same data. RAID 1 could theoretically intercept the data loss of a disk and create a new system with a replacement disk.

However, RAID does not replace the second backup because, for example, inactive drive sectors remain undetected and the RAID system notifies the relevant disk as defective.

Although NAS servers with SMART hard disk monitoring are sending an e-mail to the user during drive problems, individual defective sectors are not taken into account.

Do you any other effective methods for digital music collection or back up?  Do share it with us, it will be help for the students of sound engineering as well as professionals.

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