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#3085374 02/18/21 07:48 PM
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I've had this happen a few times over the years, a USB flash drive becomes unreadable/unmountable and it's over. It happened to me again yesterday with a stick I use for plug-ins on my MBP, specifically Superior Drummer 3 sound content. I don't necessarily like to use a USB stick but just the basic sound install is 40gig so it has to go somewhere and I can't clog the hard drive with all that stuff. I've got to check and make sure I didn't have some Waves licenses on there also. I probably should have seen it coming, it's been a little flakey in disappearing recently however I was blaming the new USB extender thing I bought that has switches on it.

It's a pain to be sure but in the end I should be able to just install it on another flash drive, the Toontrack manager program is incredibly straight forward and easy to use. I'm also thinking about just installing it on the thunderbolt drive I use that contains my digital performer files, seems that should work ok and I could lose the extra USB stick dangling out.

Has this been a problem for you?

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Yes, but very rarely. Still, it's scary when you have licenses on one. I don't know if you can transfer licenses back to the cloud with Waves and then bring them on to a new USB stick.

I've also wondered if maybe iLoks are more durable, and if so, whether you could re-format an old one and use it as a USB drive.

But speaking of iLoks...they've really served me when changing to a new computer, or dealing with a dead system drive or installation corruption. The Zero Downtime thing rankles, though. It seems wrong to say "you've paid for your licenses, great, now pay in case there's an issue with our protection scheme." Doesn't Pace keep track online of the iLoks you own? Seems to me they could just deactivate a broken one permanently, so you could transfer your licenses from the cloud to a new one. The argument could be "well how do they know it's broken, maybe you'll just unplug it temporarily and keep using it." What would solve that is having to go to the cloud every three or four months to refresh your device. If the deactivated one showed up, and you had an activation on a different iLok, they'd know something was up.

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Originally Posted by Anderton
I don't know if you can transfer licenses back to the cloud with Waves and then bring them on to a new USB stick.

Indeed you can. I just had Waves Central up and discovered I had 5 licenses on that dead stick and I was able to transfer them back to the cloud, it says you can do that once a year. Fortunately the one I actually use live was installed on this computer, that one was my main concern. I'm not worried about the rest right now but with them back to the cloud I assume I'll be able to transfer them to a different device later. I have two installed on my older MBP that's packed away in the garage probably until we move, hope it will still be working then!

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iLoks and Steinberg keys are on every computer save the laptops. But I don't keep programs or libraries on USB keys - they are just for moving stuff around the studio and doing firmware upgrades in gear. Anymore I mostly use DropBox, even between computers that are in the room.

I've been on the drive upgrade treadmill for a while. First it was upgrading spinning rust drives. Then was the move to get rid of all moving drives and be all SSD. Then it was get to my first 1TB drive... 1TB drives seemed so big. Then I filled them and needed more room. Clone to 2TB drives and resume. The first 4TB is already in the main DAW, along with a 2TB boot image and a collection of 1-2TB drives... I'm looking at it saying, "Well, I guess it is time to upgrade all the ones and twos into a couple fours".... The first 8TB NVME drive is already available.... But I'm still on standard SSD's - I start to lose PCIe slots if I use NVME on the motherboard I have. The new Threadrippers are very interesting for the high PCIe lane count....

The biggest limitation on modern MacBook Pro's is the storage and the RAM. The CPU's are lovely. But the storage and RAM mean they cannot be a main device for me. Not even close. So laptops have gotten cheaper and simpler - loving the MSFT Surface. But the main production machine is a beefy tower laden with drives - the same as it ever was.

I have heard of people replacing USB drives on an every-couple-of-years basis. As flash, they have the same write cycle limitations as SSD drives, but I could see them being much lower in their ratings. They don't advertise them as SSD-like and most use them for temp storage not hard media write-cycles.

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I've never had that problem (hopefully I'm not jinxing myself).

I always buy major brand USB sticks, and always use the eject utility before removing them. I've read it's not always necessary, but it only takes a minute.

I also usually duplicate the data on the USB stick somewhere else, just in case.

Notes


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100 GB writable Blu-Ray discs are $5 - $10 each, and far more durable/reliable than DVDs. You know how people have storage units for things they don't want to keep in the house, but they might need them someday so they don't want to throw them out? That's what Blu-Ray does for me. 10 discs, and I've freed up a terabyte of SSD storage for things that actually matter. Even the 25 GB and 50 GB discs have their place in keeping "data clutter" down. I've yet to have one go bad, a lot of thought went into the engineering to avoid the mistakes of CDs and DVDs as an archival medium.

The drawback is it does take a while to write 100 GB of data on a 4X disc...so do it while you sleeping or exercising or whatever.

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Originally Posted by Notes_Norton
[I] always use the eject utility before removing them. I've read it's not always necessary, but it only takes a minute.

It is indeed good practice. You can set up Windows so it lets you remove them no matter what, but I haven't done that. If you're writing to the flash drive or even accessing it, that can screw up the file system. Macs are not exempt from this, either so you do need to eject it before removing it.

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I don't like using USB drives but they're small, quick and handy so it's a matter of keeping things slim and trim for live performances. Although it took some time, it wasn't a problem to download the sound file and I didn't lose anything that couldn't be replaced although I'll probably avoid putting the Waves licenses on a stick again. At first I went ahead and installed to another flash drive I had here but decided I should just put it on the thunderbolt SSD that already has my performance file. It appeared that I was allowed to install in two places so the stick can serve as a backup although if the thunderbolt SSD goes down we're back to being a plain 'ole duo show anyway.

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For live performances, I make my own backing tracks from scratch. That way they are in our key, and our arrangement, with room for the solo hog (that would be me) to improvise a solo if appropriate. I'm lucky to be able to play drums, bass, guitar, wind instruments and keyboards. I also save the most fun parts for Leilani and I to play live over the tracks.

I mix our tracks to 192kbps MP3 files, and I've been doing this since 2002. If I had to start all over, I'd keep them in WAV format, but back then storage was very limited. Before mixing to mp3 I used to bring a sequence player on stage, but one day I had a problem with a piece of hardware and decided I needed a 'fail-safe' system.

To play the backing tracks I use Windows Media Player, to select them I use Windows File Explorer, and to display words and/or music I use WordPad. That way any off-the shelf Windows computer can work for me.

We use Windows ThinkPad computers on stage. ThinkPads because they are almost bulletproof, and Windows because in case of an emergency I can get another Windows computer in a hurry.

I also bring a backup computer, it's on stage with us, booted up, and ready to go. If something happens, I just switch the USB-to-Audio interface into the standby computer. Since 2002 I've done this twice. First one as a precaution as a HD started making a mechanical noise, second one the CMOS battery died, and I didn't know I could boot the computer without it.

I keep a duplicate of all the data on a USB stick. In the extremely unlikely event that both the main and the spare computers die on the same day, I can zip over to any mall and get a Windows computer and the show goes on. It 'lives' in a small padded, water resistant bag.

The USB stick is a nice backup device because it is small and light. Since we do one-nighters, every ounce saved is an ounce we don't have to schlep. I only buy 'name brands' like PNY, Kanguru, Sandisk, Samsung, and so on. The first USB stick I bought was an IBM brand and had a whopping 64k of storage space. It still works.

Craig your Blu-ray storage solution sounds good. Can you recommend a brand of Blu-ray writable disks that you found reliable? I have an external USB-DVD reader/writer so I imagine I could find one that does Blu-ray as well. Only my older computers have optical drives.

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Notes


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I've never had a USB drive go bad but I don't depend on them for licenses. I had Waves Platinum and a large Sounds Online collection but they have faded from use as they have been replaced by UA and NI offerings. Universal Audio does require a dongle of sorts in the form of a card or external audio interface but that has not been a problem for me. When I bought a new Apollo Twin quad I kept my older, weaker version as backup. A power surge knocked out the Apollo and I had to send it off to Sweetwater. Just pugged in the old one and kept going. UA allows both of my Apollo's and my internal card for the desktop DAW to all be active. I appreciate this so they get my business.


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I was using a 128GB USB stick for my monthly data backup of all data, which is then removed from the computer and stored away. If I ever get hit by ransomware, at least I'll have my data from the first of the month. It got close to full (because of videos that I make), so I now use a 1TB NVME M.2 "stick" inside a USB holder for backup. Also have room to backup all of my "patch" and program executables. Best thing is that, although both are USB3, the NVME still works about 10 times as fast on writing the data. Admittedly, the NVME would be capable of higher speeds if directly mounted to a PCI connection on a mother board, but this is portable.

I also have a 1TB Crucial X8 USB SSD, which travels in my computer bag on service calls. I used to use a 1TB 3.5" HD, but the SSD can handle being dropped without crashing.

Both were worth the $$.


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I use one of these for backups:

[Linked Image from nortonmusic.com]

Regular SATA desktop hard drives plug in and out of this device like a toaster. I make full disk clones once a month on one HD and when done, take it out and put it in a desk drawer. I have multiple previous months of disk clones that I can use in case of malware.

On another HD I do my daily data backups using Microsoft's SyncToy. It only takes a few minutes. Plus, every few days or less I do a complete backup on the same disk.

Other HDs out of the toaster in the drawer are for archiving things I don't want on my computer's HD. If I load the toaster with 2 HDs I can save to both and have redundancy.

Notes


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Just speaking generally, I've had considerably better luck if I use a USB stick that has an outer casing made of metal. The plastic ones seem to split more often and cause mounting issues.

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Originally Posted by Notes_Norton
I use one of these for backups:

[Linked Image from nortonmusic.com]

Regular SATA desktop hard drives plug in and out of this device like a toaster. I make full disk clones once a month on one HD and when done, take it out and put it in a desk drawer.

I use this very external drive system for backup and sometimes, continuing to edit photos. I make a mirror of one of them and store it elsewhere, and then I have another one that I store off-site along wtih some older drives that also serve as backup (and of course, on top of that, I have cloud-based storage).

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If anyone's interested, I wrote an article on adding 1TB of SSD to my system for $125.

https://photofocus.com/photography/...storage-to-my-computer-for-125-part-two/

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Originally Posted by Notes_Norton
Craig your Blu-ray storage solution sounds good. Can you recommend a brand of Blu-ray writable disks that you found reliable? I have an external USB-DVD reader/writer so I imagine I could find one that does Blu-ray as well. Only my older computers have optical drives.

I assume you want an external drive, I don't have much experience with those but this one should work: OWC Mercury Pro 16X Blu-ray, 16X DVD, 48X CD Read/Write. OWN claims it works with 100 GB M-Discs, which isn't surprising because it just adds an extra layer to existing discs. So it shouldn't be different than a DVD burner being able to do double-sided DVDs, just in this case, it's triple-sided Blu-Rays.

What you decide on (I'm using an LG), contact support and verify the device can read and write 100 GB discs. Aside from answering that question, you'll find out if support picks up the phone smile

As to reliability of different brands, I have no idea...they all work fine, all have worked, and they all estimate a 30-year shelf life. Unless I can come back from the grave, there's no way I'll be able to know if they were right or not smile

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Thanks


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Originally Posted by KenElevenShadows
If anyone's interested, I wrote an article on adding 1TB of SSD to my system for $125.

https://photofocus.com/photography/...storage-to-my-computer-for-125-part-two/

That's a very useful article. I wonder why the photographs accompanying it are so good? smile The prices I'm seeing add up to $155, but still, that ain't bad.

I've been doing the same thing for years with mechanical hard drives and enclosures, because I was always running out of space in the computer. But this was also back in the days of USB 2.0, and doing any transfers took FOREVER compared to now. And they sure weren't 1 TB of SSD.

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Originally Posted by Anderton
Originally Posted by KenElevenShadows
If anyone's interested, I wrote an article on adding 1TB of SSD to my system for $125.

https://photofocus.com/photography/...storage-to-my-computer-for-125-part-two/

That's a very useful article. I wonder why the photographs accompanying it are so good? smile The prices I'm seeing add up to $155, but still, that ain't bad.

I find that if I use my green permanent marker and encircle my NVMe drive with a green line, my photos look more visceral, deep, and textural. wink

Thanks. The title is from the first part of the article in which I purchased $125 drive and enclosure, only to have it stop mounting. This is part two, where I spent a little more. I posted to part two because I figured people here would just want to cut to the chase instead of hearing the whole experience.

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Originally Posted by Notes_Norton
I mix our tracks to 192kbps MP3 files, and I've been doing this since 2002. If I had to start all over, I'd keep them in WAV format,

This would probably be the best backup plan for my live tracks, mix them to stereo audio files with one channel click and put them on a player device. It's certainly not practical for me to put together the system Craig mentions at the Shania Twain show. That way if my little MOTU setup were to go down I could still just plug the player in and keep our full sound albeit without the little bit of automation and midi control I'm using.

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Originally Posted by Greg Mein
This would probably be the best backup plan for my live tracks, mix them to stereo audio files with one channel click and put them on a player device. It's certainly not practical for me to put together the system Craig mentions at the Shania Twain show. That way if my little MOTU setup were to go down I could still just plug the player in and keep our full sound albeit without the little bit of automation and midi control I'm using.

The dual MOTU systems were running all the program changes for all the instrumentalists - there was a lot of Line 6 gear on stage being controlled by the MOTU systems, so the players only had to play, not do any footswitch tap dances. It was probably 95% about control, and 5% about playback. So if anything happened to the sequencers, they would have been hosed.

When I was doing a lot of fader-slamming, hardware-based EDM gigs, the logistics of staying on top of two Ensoniq ARX groove boxes (one played while the other loaded from floppy), keyboard, guitar, mic, mixer, vocoder, etc. was a nightmare due to the split-second timing. My trap door was a minidisc player with recorded excerpts of crazy/funny stuff, like part of the "How to Speak Hip" album or a theme from some ancient TV sitcom. When everything imploded into itself, I'd just play back from the minidisc until I was able to get everything under control again. It was the only way not to have dead air!

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That reminds me of the biggest fail I've seen in a major rock concert (not that I've seen that many, because I'm usually working on the same nights the stars come to town).

Many years ago, I went to a big rock festival. Back in the days when $5 or $10 would get you in to see/hear a half dozen acts. I mainly wanted to see Dr. John, who didn't show up. But that's another story.

Alice Cooper was one of the acts. The musicians were parading poor Alice to the gallows when everything went silent except for the snare drum. The audio was probably on tape and either the tape broke or something else failed. Being true professionals, they continued to march him to the gallows and perform the fake lynching to the sound of a lone snare drum. That's show-biz.

The next song started and everything sounded OK.

Notes


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My biggest fail was not a drive, it was a RAID. I had an HP raid with 6 750GB drives and used it for years. RAID 10 with hot spares. Disaster proof. Except that one day the RAID board went out and there were no replacements to be found. It was too far out of production. Now I take a much simpler approach. Two external drives and back up to both. I implemented the same system at work. Every month an assistant would go around to everyone's computer with an external drive and back up the my documents folder. We used two drives and rotate each month. It was a very good system that came in very handy multiple times.


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Just a related reminder here - Keep plenty of backups. You probably don't need to buy a fireproof safe (but it's a good idea) but make a few copies and scatter them around the house, maybe give one to a friend, or keep a couple of USB flash drive backups in the glove compartment of your car.

I haven't seen any statistics about failure in the car environment, but I've had a couple in my car for a few years now, just in case I'm somewhere where I wished I had something to copy a file on to. What was on them when I put them in (nothing important) is still there and readable three or so years later. I just checked.

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And [shameless plug] if you subscribe to my Twitter feed, the first week of very month you get nagged to back up your data. I think it's the main reason people subscribe smile

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Originally Posted by RABid
My biggest fail was not a drive, it was a RAID. I had an HP raid with 6 750GB drives and used it for years. RAID 10 with hot spares. Disaster proof. Except that one day the RAID board went out and there were no replacements to be found. It was too far out of production. Now I take a much simpler approach. Two external drives and back up to both. I implemented the same system at work. Every month an assistant would go around to everyone's computer with an external drive and back up the my documents folder. We used two drives and rotate each month. It was a very good system that came in very handy multiple times.

Okay, so it's not just me. Every single time I talk about backup, someone always says, "Hey, make sure it's a RAID! One goes down, the other keeps going!"

No. I just want two drives that are the same. That's conceptually easy. And really, I have more than that because I keep getting larger drives and putting the old stuff on there anyway, so I actually have numerous drives with backup, and these are kept off-site.

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My photography mentor made a living photographing weddings.
One day he said to me "One is none and two is one."

The next time I shot a wedding I learned that two is one. Except my one was not much of a one, more like about 30%.
I haven't shot a wedding in decades, you could not pay me enough.


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Originally Posted by KenElevenShadows
Okay, so it's not just me. Every single time I talk about backup, someone always says, "Hey, make sure it's a RAID! One goes down, the other keeps going!"

The ONLY time I was ever screwed with a backup was RAID.

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Originally Posted by Anderton
Originally Posted by KenElevenShadows
Okay, so it's not just me. Every single time I talk about backup, someone always says, "Hey, make sure it's a RAID! One goes down, the other keeps going!"

The ONLY time I was ever screwed with a backup was RAID.


NEVER create a RAID array on a Mac. There may be a way to un-RAID it but I never found one and I am pretty persistent. I had a 2008 Mac Pro that was getting long in the tooth and for whatever reason I decided to try and un-RAID 2 of the hard drives. The other two drives were separate duplicate bootable drives, until one of them died. Since they were redundant RAID rather than "half here, half there for speed" RAID, I thought I might get better service by splitting the two into separate drives again.

I could not figure out how to do it. I tried a variety of evil plans, including working from an external boot drive and/or an installation disc. They had become one disc and that was that. In the end I backed everything up to externals and got a different computer. I got 8+ years out of it anyway and I don't miss being stuck with Firewire 400 and fan noise. I don't know about Windows and RAID but RAID seems to be forever on a Mac. Luckily I got my data before disk death.


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Originally Posted by KuruPrionz
My photography mentor made a living photographing weddings.
<...snip...>
I haven't shot a wedding in decades, you could not pay me enough.

I haven't played a wedding reception in decades. The wedding industry has convinced the bride that this should be the happiest day of her life, but if she doesn't out-do all of her friends weddings she will be an utter failure and the unhappiest day of her life will brand her a loser. The result is too many Bridzillas micromanaging the wedding and not really knowing how to do that. Plus she is going to want us to learn some obscure album cut song that I'll spend a week learning and sequencing the backing track, and nobody will ever want to hear it again.

One of the worst weddings was for a wedding planner. She got to the reception and started yelling at the help, "These flowers are in the wrong place, move them over there" and barked at almost every other department. The mood of the guests went pffffft and never woke up.

Another was one where the mother of the bride didn't approve and didn't attend. All the guests on the brides side of the room sat there with their arms folded looking glum.

Of course not every wedding is like that. Just most of them. wink

The best wedding I ever played, the father of the bride danced with every female from the youngest to the grannies. The cake didn't arrive, so they bought a sheet-cake at a close by grocery store. On the contract the father wrote 'overtime until we drop' and we went 6 hours without even taking a break. BTW they are still married..

The most unusual was a white minister's daughter marrying a black Jamaican gentleman. When we got there to set up the Jamaicans were cooking a goat they slaughtered the night before (a custom). They were dressed up in outrageous fashions that made them look like a gang of thugs. But looks were deceiving, the party was a lot of fun. Both crowds socialized and enjoyed each other. We played rock music and the dance floor was white, we played soca music and the dance floor was black. They only time we had a B&W dance floor was when we played "Hot Hot Hot" and "Old Time Rock And Roll".

We ran out of soca that we knew, but had some cassettes we collected when we gigged on cruise ships and went to Jamaica in the late 1980s. So we popped them in a player, ran them through the PA set, and since we knew them, sang along with the tapes, while I put the keyboard on MIDI channel 10 and played percussion. After the gig one Jamaican gentleman told us that we sounded just like the records, and could get a lot of work playing for the Jamaican ex-pats.

OK I've drifted off-topic (sorry) so to get back...

Sorry Craig, I don't do twitter, but I back my data up every day, and do an HD clone weekly. Thanks anyway.

The old Internet proverb.

There are two kinds of computer users:
1) Those who have had a hard disk crash
2) Those who have not had a hard disk crash, YET.

Notes


Bob "Notes" Norton
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Originally Posted by KenElevenShadows
Just speaking generally, I've had considerably better luck if I use a USB stick that has an outer casing made of metal. The plastic ones seem to split more often and cause mounting issues.

The stick that became unreadable was a metal case Sandisk 128g, I paid a little more for it because I wanted it "road worthy". The disk refused to mount although the system knew it was there but couldn't see anything on it. Mac Disk Utility told me it repaired it but it really didn't. Oddly enough the stick still seems to work but I had to reformat it. It won't be used for any huge sound content files again.

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I AM the department of redundancy department.

Many years ago, when I was new with Computers, and writing my first Band-in-a-Box styles on an Atari/ST computer, the computer crashed wiping out all the styles I was working on.

I was saving them to floppy disk and transferring them to an IBM/PC because they used the same format. But BiaB for PC was still in the DOS5 era, and I hated DOS (I have typos built into my fingers - standard equipment). Floppy disks formatted on the IBM/PC worked in the Atari, and most of the time disks formatted on the Atari worked on the PC.

The computer crashed while writing to the floppy and the disk became unreadable. I had to re-do everything from scratch, and perhaps they even turned out better.

Starting the next day I'd save my work on one floppy, then a second floppy so that I had two identical disks.

To this day, I save two or more copies of everything important. I like to save a copy off-premises as well.

Insights and incites by Notes


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Just had another USB stick go dead last night, although it was a cheap stick a company used to hand out PR at NAMM many years ago. Not surprising, I guess.

There's an interesting article if you want to know more about what makes them tick, but it seems to me that the underlying technology is more like a bucket-brigade analog device than a digital device like a hard drive. One of the reasons I trust optical storage more is because it's writing actual data in a layer, whereas NAND memory depends on storing charges - transistor gates capture electrons, and move them into "floating" transistor gates. It all sounds pretty sketchy to me compared to hard drives, but then again, hard drives can have mechanical failures.

It really is true that digital data doesn't exist unless it's stored in at least two places smile

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I implemented an optical backup at my office 20+ years ago, back when CD's were $10+ each and write speed was 2x. I was careful about what we bought, usually opting for gold which was rated to last 25-50 years. In reality, the discs started going bad in about 10 years. That was with storage in a dark file cabinet in an air conditioned room. We evolved through DVD and eventually to HD and Blu-Ray for backup. When the price of standard HD's dropped it became easier and cheaper to just back up to multiple external hard drives. Over 20 years of experimenting with backup media the worst fail I had was using SSD's. What a disaster. They would sometimes fail after a month in storage. They were extremely picky about what computer they were connected to. Motherboard BIOS and Windows version were critical. It really turned me off on SSD's and it was years before they became stable enough for serious use. I still refuse to use an SSD as backup though most every computer and laptop I have now uses SSD as the main. My main DAW has SSD for boot, but 4 large platter drives for data.


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My new laptop has an SSD (my first one) and I'm amazed at how fast it is. Open and app and it just pops up on the screen. It's a ThinkPad so I hope they put a quality drive in there.

I'm still doing multiple backups with internal style magnetic hard drives popped into my USB 'toaster'. And I don't trust 'the cloud' for backups.

I belong to the department of redundancy department.

Notes


Bob "Notes" Norton
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The 2013 MBP I bought new was the first computer I had with a SSD. It's still going strong but quite a while back I bought a USB drive reader/writer that is a flat unit with a cover and a SSD that could be put in that computer if a fail occurs. I use the Carbon Copy Cloner program to keep a bootable mirror image of the computer's drive. I try to update the clone often and actually had to use the clone once when an update screwed up the computer although I hadn't been keeping up and was reverted back several months.

On my backing track MOTU setup I'm using a Thunderbolt 2 Transcend 256G SSD for my all important Digital Performer files. Every time I work on them (and I've been doing a lot lately) I backup those files to a USB stick but also over the network to the PC that is sitting next to me on my bench. It recently occurred to me that I don't have a direct replacement for the Transcend SSD so I started looking and discovered Thunderbolt 2 is near impossible to find now. Searching through my previous orders I found that I could still get one though and, in fact, was able to order a 512G model of the same drive for less that the 256G would have cost.

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It now looks as though the problems I've had recently actually link back to my MBP. Quite a while back the USB port on the right side became intermittent and flakey. Not long after that the speaker on the right side crapped out and has the broken cone sound. The problem appears to have crept over to the left side USB port now. The Thunderbolt 2 ports seem to be the only reliable connections at this point.

Well, that's just not going to do, I need this computer for our upcoming gigs and the USB connection is essential for the Krome keyboard I play and use for backing tracks plus the little Akai LPK25 I use for transport controls. I went to "mac of all trades" and ordered a model that's two years newer and has twice the SSD space and RAM. It's half the price of a new one but also it still has the Thunderbolt 2 ports I need for connecting to my 828x and external drive without the need for adapters. I've been spending many hours creating more tracks for our next gig and a failure would really upset me!

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I use backing tracks in my duo http://www.s-cats.com

I bring two of them for my backing tracks. Both powered up at all times on the gig so if something happens on the gig, I switch the USB to the second computer and the show goes on.

I use Windows computers, because in an emergency, I can go to dozens of department stores and get a replacement.

I save my tracks as a high bit rate MP3 and use Windows Media Player to play them. That way if I need to buy an emergency computer, it is ready right out of the box.

I use nothing but ThinkPad computers, because they are almost bulletproof. I just retired one that I bought in 2002. The other 2002 computer retired a couple of years ago because I dropped it, broke the hinge, and they don't make replacement parts.

In all these years I've had two ThinkPad failures:

1) The hard drive started making a mechanical noise on the gig so I switched to the backup between songs

2) The CMOS battery failed, I didn't know at the time I could boot the computer by setting the date manually. The repair cost $5 for a 'coin battery';

There is more than one right way to do this. This is my way.

Notes


Bob "Notes" Norton
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Originally Posted by Notes_Norton
There is more than one right way to do this. This is my way.

Notes

Our methods are quite different but then so is our presentation. I couldn't play a wind instrument to save my life but my wife plays flute and the EWI 5000. We both play keyboards but for her it's the main instrument while I mostly play guitar. 95% of what my system spews is midi and that's where the USB comes in. I'm using plugins, sometimes with automation, on my vocal and guitar and the Thunderbolt interface helps keep that running smoothly as Firewire had in earlier years. Superior Drummer 3 is in a plugin track and being played by a midi track.

I'm disappointed with my MBP but I have gotten eight years of good service from it being my main machine. I've had worse MBP experiences, the 2008 model I bought new was a real turkey and the motherboard crapped out after a couple of years. Turned out that was a common occurrence on that series. These things are expensive and that was really upsetting. Overall though the Macs I've been using over the years have made for a smooth experience.

I always have PC's around also, there's a Dell desktop sitting next to me and I have a Dell laptop over by the lounge chair that I turn on occasionally. I wouldn't rule out using a PC again if this Thunderbolt 3/USB-C thing is here to stay for a while. Up until recently Digital Performer was Mac only. I wouldn't be able to just grab another computer though, I need the driver for my Korg Krome, the MOTU 828x interface software, Superior Drummer 3, transfer licenses for some plugins and probably some other things.

I know we don't have the large repertoire that you do. At this point there are probably 50 songs we can do. My wife is a skilled musician but doesn't have the experience of playing 100's of songs in different bands and being able to pick up and improvise with others the way I do. At the end of the day, although I've put much time and effort into it, it's a hobby for us and is actually going along real well. We've become established and always get call backs.

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I've never played an EWI. I play the Yamaha WX series. There is a new Roland controller out that I'd like to try, but it's expensive and due to both COVID and the adult market we targeted, we've been out of work a year.

There was a time when I used to play sequences on a sequence player, and later a laptop that fed the sequences into a rack of sound modules.

One day, on our last Christmas party of the year, the sample player in the rack started acting up. If the rack was jarred, even lightly, it would turn off and on again and have to access the floppy disk to reload the samples. That took about 3 minutes. On that sampler was a Fender J Bass and a lot of drum sounds that I recorded myself.

I took it to the shop the next day, the tech put a probe in it immediately followed by a spark and some smoke. He said I'd have to send it back to the factory. The factory was closed for the Christmas vacation, and would not open until a few days after New Year's Day.

We had a New Year's Eve party that was booked two years in advance and paid 5 times our normal rate. At that time there would be no way for the club to get a replacement band. The demand far exceeded the supply.

There was no way I could re-assign and balance the 500 or so songs I had at the time to my other sound modules in time for the gig. The drum notes were all different, the volumes in respect to velocity were also very different. So I started calling music stores. Nobody locally had one, so I started in Miami and worked my way north. I would have flown to Seattle, Washington and back if that's what it took to make the gig happen. Fortunately I found one in Melbourne (about an hour North of me) that had one. A customer ordered it, and then changed his mind.

We made the gig, and I decided how to solve this. I could get spares of everything, but it was a 10 space rack full of gear, and I couldn't see any way to bring that to the gig for this kind of circumstance.

That's when I decided to go mp3. I know that took some flexibility out of our performing, but we gain some fail-safe. So on my 2002 ThinkPad I bought a couple of USB to Audio interfaces and started recording every sequence at home. In a few months I was done and made the switch.

I also started thinking about a power amp failure, so I ditched the power amp and bought powered speakers, first Carvins and now EV's

What else could go wrong? Sax, flute or guitar failure seemed a potential but unlikely problem. I decided I could cover those parts in an emergency with the WX5 Wind MIDI controller and my VL70m physical modeling synth, so I bought an extra controller and have a spare VL mounted in the rack.

Now the only thing that can fail big-time is the mixer. I have a couple of passive mixers I built that I can mix a number of inputs in, so if I have half the mixer I'm OK.

With the mixer I'm using, the failures have always been one channel or the other, and they have been extremely reliable. I do have 4 of them. One in my recording rack, one on stage, and two spares.

I've been gigging as a pro since 1964. For most of my life it has been my primary or sole source of income. So far I've never-ever missed a gig or even missed the downbeat.

The show must go on.

Notes ♫


Bob "Notes" Norton
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Style and Fake disks for Band-in-a-Box
The Sophisticats http://www.s-cats.com >^. .^< >^. .^<
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