Hi. It’s always (or mostly always) rewarding when there is a thread with high engagement in the community. Given the number of responses to my question about maxing out the Roon Nucleus, I thought it valuable to start another, more general thread about digital backup strategy. Specifically, what is your digital backup strategy, and what technologies/hardware/software do you use to implement it? NAS? External hard drive? Industrial-grade cloud?
Mine: one complete copy on Roon Nucleus, one (mostly) complete copy on DropBox, one partial copy (HD only–DXD, DSD) on laptop hardrive. I clearly need to improve this!
In my case, my Roon Server doesn’t contain any local music files and instead accesses my primary NAS which has 12TBs of usable capacity in a RAID1 configuration. That’s backed up by a secondary NAS with 22TB of useable storage (also in RAID1).
I also have a Melco N1ZH (the previous dual-drive flagship), which I upgraded myself into a dual 8TB SSD RAID1 configuration, which also gets backed-up (manually) on my secondary NAS. (By the way, don’t believe Melco when they claim that drives make a sonic difference, they don’t).
Of the lot, only about 4TB worth are backed-up in the Cloud on Backblaze - mainly purchases which I can no longer download from my accounts. For all others, I still own all the CDs/SACDs, or are readily re-downloadable from the my music source accounts (like NativeDSD, HDTT, etc).
While I don’t use Roon the principles I describe here would remain the same if I did.
Primary Copy Location & Technology - I keep my primary library on a USB-C enclosure from OWC that has two 8TB Samsung SSDs for 16TB of usable storage connected to my primary computer, an iMac in this case. Through the years I have spent countless hours on metadata improvement and use many tools on macOS to do this and often run large jobs when I find something to improve across roughly 9000+ album, 13TB library. I chose SSD technology despite cost with a fanless enclosure since my office is also primary listening room. I have formatted that enclosure with Apple’s AFS file system which is beneficial as it supports snapshots. Meaning I can snapshot the whole library or just folders to test potential metadata changes without needing the space for a full copy.
Primary Backup & Technology - Using Time Machine built into macOS hourly incremental backups are done to a NAS ~100TB connected to the house network. That is Synology 1522+ NAS with 5 18TB Seagate NAS drives plus 2 960GB NVMe R/W cache SSDs. I am using Synology’s version of RAID5 that has some additional capabilities beyond the standard. I have history out to about two years currently.
Secondary Backup & Technology - Using an application called Chronosync I keep another snapshot of the full library on that NAS. I rarely use this but because I have the space keep it as a primary fast restore point in case of a failure of primary storage on the iMac.
Disaster Recovery Copy & Technology - I use an application called Arq to write to AWS S3 Glacier objects my music library as well as other critical data. Arq supports many different cloud providers and prices of cold storage changes frequently so you can shop around. I have a scheduled job that runs once a week to refresh this archive with changes and keep a retention of about two months there. ~13TB’s of storage there costs about $20 a month. The hope is I never use this as this is an insurance policy against the house burning down or some other tragedy.
I already said I don’t use Roon so to fill in the picture I use an Aurender for playback that also has 16TB of SSD storage. The primary copy connected to the iMac is synchronized when necessary to the Aurender using the same Chronosync application I mentioned above. The Aurender is simply a copy, never primary nor do I ever edit directly against that storage. Aurender is connected to Rossini APEX and Rossini Clock which also feeds the Aurender as primary clock.
Great thread! Wow you guys are full on with your back up strategy.
As noted in the other thread, I’m fairly low end. 4TB M.2 on the back of a Mac Mini for playback. Backups to a 2.5 in HDD and 3.5 in HDD a couple of times a year. I may look at a Raid enclosure and do a RAID 1 back up.
My main server where I store my music library is a Qnap TS873A configured on RAID5. I installed a LAN card from JCat in it. MinimSerwer runs on this server. Since it is not a silent device, it is located in another room that is rarely used. Once a week, a copy of the entire library is automatically made on the older Qnap server. A twisted-pair Ethernet cable is run from the Qnap Server to the listening room to the PPA Studio switch. From the switch through Gigafoil Filter to DCS.
I curate my library on a macpro in my home office. Here I rip CDs, download purchases, transcode, and manage metadata. My main library is in AIFF and DSF (DSD purchased or ripped from my SACDs). I try to keep it well organized with accurate metadata saved into the files.
This library gets backed up to both a TimeMachine drive (every hour) and I also cycle through 4 drives (I use a SATA “toaster”) every week or so. So I have effectively the main library, a TimeMachine backup, and 4 additional backups I rotate over. I use Chronosync to make updating the backups fast.
The 4 external drives are actually kept in a fire-proof box. I don’t have a regular off-site backup though I keep a backup drive in my summer home but that gets updated every 6 months or so.
On top of that, I run Roon/ROCK on a NUC to which I replicate the main library also via Chronosync. That Roon library is the main library I play from. So all in all I have 7 copies of my library.
In short, for home use, I’d keep one copy onsite and another offsite. Ideally with the ability to rollback to previous backups. Most importantly, make sure the files are actually being backed up by testing you can retrieve them!
Longer version: For my most important files (including music), I automatically sync with iCloud as well to my QNAP running RAID 1 (two discs with identical copies of the same data). The QNAP then gets backed up in real-time to two other cloud storage solutions, both of which store previous versions of any files that have changed.
The exception is my Roon database, which only gets backed up to DropBox at present.
Same question would apply to any data copying. I have never had an issue thus far. Chronosync does not compress or produce an archive of any sort, it literally makes an exact copy.
One of the reasons I rotate through drives is that if I discover an issue of corruption or computer hijack I can hopefully go back to an older copy. I use this workflow for all my data, not just music, and the drives are purposefully NOT permanently connected to the computer, I drop them in the toaster when I am updating them. This is to avoid virus/hijack contagium.
Also, the backups are done per physical drive, and are identical copies, so if a drive fails, I can simply drop-in the backup and I am off to the races.
You could be asking “What if a track or album was corrupted in the first place from day 1”. That is not something I check and the question is completely orthogonal to a backup strategy in the first place.
Regarding corrupt drives one thing I have borne in mind is that batches of drives from a single manufacturer may exhibit a common fault ( I can think of one USB HDD drive from a major manufacturer some tears ago as an example). As a single backup drive is not advisable and multiple copies ( e.g. 3) is preferable I use a different brand for each.
Back in the early 2000’s I built PCs from scratch as an OEM, Hitachi released a series of Deskstar hard drives with excellent £/performance. Bought loads of them in batches, every single one failed, they got the nickname Deathstar. Thereafter I did what you suggest, purchased small batches - different makes and models.
RAID can go some way towards fixing errors that might appear on discs, but it’s worth bearing in mind that minor errors on this media seem few and far between (when errors do occur, they are either corrected as the drive gradually fails or catastophic, obvious losses of data rather than corrupted bits going undetected).
I would argue a few corrupted bits that go undetected is far worse than not being able to read a file at all (assuming you have a suitable backup strategy in place) and, in my experience, the biggest culprits today are: 1) unexpected power loss; 2) software bugs; and 3) a lack of ECC memory being offered in consumer devices.
Backups will help, but that isn’t much good you if your RAM starts failing and a machine writes corrupted data back to the disc, simply because this may not be discovered for a while.
As always, the best option to store multiple backups that retain several previous versions of each file (such as a copy from one day ago, another copy from a week ago, a month ago and a year ago etc).
This has occupied me for the past couple of years and is difficult. The first issue is that you have a proper will ( not self made). I would suggest that you find a way of notifying your significant passwords to your executor and keep it up to date.g. a " To be opened in case of my death" document. No point in keeping passwords electronically protected by another password stored only electronically in such a case. It is necessary that the data is accessible by an authorised third party so just passing on a drive or computer may prove inadequate.