It's World Backup Day tomorrow, so probably a good time to consider if you are actually covered in the face of impending doom. Most of us will have had a drive die at some point and whilst hopefully most of us have been schooled for long enough to have our project data backed up (hopefully onto a silent SSD or a NAS out of the studio to keep the noise down), perhaps its time to spare a thought for your system disk.
You have thought about your system disk haven't you, at least an image?
Even if we forget about the fairly unlikely event of a drive just dying on you within the life of your current computer, I'm sure that we have all had the instance where a rogue update, driver or piece of software has stopped everything working like it was and put the brakes on anything useful getting done that day / week / month.
The theory goes that we should be able to go back to a restore point or time machine backup, but this will take a good while and there is no guarantee of success. It’s bad enough this happening when you are on your own, but its a disaster if you have paying clients with you, or a time sensitive job to complete.
You might have an image of the system disk, but this is at least an hour or more to restore.
If you haven't got an image, you've got to start again, reinstall your system, find your installers, install the installers, activate the plugins, re-link your libraries. It's probably days of work , then you possibly find that the new OS version its possibly forced you to upgrade to is incompatible with some of your older plugins, so the projects that are backed up don't open properly and sound the same.
Even slightly smug Mac users with a time machine backup image on a NAS drive will have hours of restore until they can get back up and running.
Cloning Your system disk onto a drive of the same capacity and keeping it updated means that if the drive dies, or more likely, a rogue piece of software, update or driver tanks your system, you don't have to worry. Just switch to choose to boot from your backup drive with zero downtime, its a couple of minutes inconvenience.
Although it's possible to put internal drives in RAID 0 (mirror), cloning is better as raid only protects you from a drive dying, not coming back quickly from an unstable system.
If you have a PC this probably means swapping the drive with your internal system disk, or mounting the drive on a separate internal drive bay. You can back up to a USB disk if you do not have the ability to fit another drive internally, but windows only really likes to boot from an internal disk.
On the Mac, you can just go ahead and boot off an external USB3, or thunderbolt clone if you need to. Thunderbolt is absolutely the way to go here, the speed off the OWC envoy enclosure is about as good as it gets for TB3 external and it's bus powered.
The price of NVME storage is now similar to SATA SSD drives, there really hasn't been a better time to upgrade and give yourself the backup option.
Scan Pro Audio recommend WD drives, with The black series for high performance system disks and the green range for the most economical options for backups. Just pick a drive that’s the same size as your system disk.
Red series disks are perfect for non-bootable backups or images on NAS devices, of course we recommend any any mechanical drives are kept out of the studio to keep noise levels to a minimum.
WD Drives & Recommended Enclosures
How do I clone?
Whilst there are some free tools on PC (such as Clonezilla which runs outside of windows) or free programs that do non-bootable clones, they are limited in function, so no scheduling or any other useful features there.
Mac users do have a Free version of Super Duper, which will do bootable, manually on demand.
So how do I get a free upgrade?
Unless you've bought a PC in the last couple of years, your existing system disk (even if it is an early m.2 device), chances are a new M.2 Drive will be quicker, so clone your disk and then swap the drives around, so the old one is the backup.
This way means you will have a faster system disk now.
Be aware that not all drives will work in older slots, especially PCIE4.0 drives in old PCIE 3.0 M.2 NVME slots.