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In this Quick Tip we discuss file management in the studio and the benefits of using multiple hard drives.  Having a separate drive for separate tasks is a simple way to boost your system performance.  How many drives are in your system?  (I bet I got more!) Comment below!

 File and Drive Management

Transcript »


Hey guys! Welcome back to another video quick tip. Once again I’m Dezz Asante from TechMuzeAcademy and in today’s tip I want to talk a little bit about an ideal way to manage your files on your production computer and how to avoid you know loosing things, loosing track of where bits and pieces are and also how to maximize the performance of your machine through multiple hard drives.

So, first, let’s take a look at mine. Now, I’ll be straightforward with you. I’m a bit of a self-proclaimed computer nerd and my set-up might be a little extreme to some people. But I do think that it’s effective and there’s a rhyme and a reason for what I do and I’d like to share that with you now.

I’m a Mac user. So if I open my finder, you’ll see on the left, pretty quickly that I have a number of different hard drives available to my system and I do this for a particular reason.

For one, its file management and that’s kind of 50% of what this topic of today’s quick tip is, so that I have specific locations to store various different types of files that I generate on a regular basis. But the other reason which might be a little bit less obvious, is for system performance.

The best way to look at it is, that a hard drive, if your not running solid state , a regular spinning hard drive, its got like a stylus, like a pen that reads and writes the data to and from the drive as needed. You can imagine that if you only have one hard drive, your operating system is installed on it, your DAW of choice, Cubase, Pro Tools, logic whatever you use, is installed on it, all of your software instruments and the sample libraries that are associated with them are installed on that drive as well. Then, whenever the system needs to call different things, different processes to the foreground, that stylus, that pen you can think of as, needs to jump back and forth between running the system and the data that needs to happen there, between streaming your samples so that when you hit a key on your midi-controller, you hear the sound between recording the audio or midi-files that you’re generating. All of this is happening with one pen, you can think of it as. Okay!

So, a great way to give you a slight boost in system performance, take some of the load off and to also conserve the wear and tear of your drive is to actually have more than one pen, reading and writing simultaneously so that all of these different functions can take place a little more efficiently.

So, let me walk you through what I’ve got. In my devices, I’ll just close up this place for a second, and search for, just to make this easier to look at. Snow Leopard is the operating system that I’m running. I know I’m a couple of generations behind but its sort of a, if it ain’t broke don’t fix it kind of a scenario. So, that is my main system drive. That’s where my operating system lives. Any process that has to do with the OS happens from that hard drive. Okay! That’s pretty self-explanatory and that’s all that I use that drive for. Of course that drive also contains my desktop folder. So anything I save on my desktop is also located on that hard drive. So, that’s just something to keep in mind.

Next down the list, I have another hard drive that is dedicated just to projects – active projects, archived projects. I tried to keep this an active project directory but all of my actual sessions, I’m Cubase user primarily, although I do have access to some of the other tools as well.but all of my active sessions will be living on the projects drive. And that means the data, if I’m recording an audio track, that audio data is being written to and read from this drive while that other drive is dealing with my operating system processes. Okay!

So, in here I’ve got.. talking about file management, I’ve got it broken down into easy and convenient categories. I colour-code them for quick visual reference but the green ones on the top are active sessions – Cubase projects, Logic projects, Pro Tools and the occasional mastering session that I do. And so, I know exactly where to go very quickly to find whatever it is that I’m looking for.

I also have folders 5 & 6 here that are in yellow that are results folders. So, after I’m finish a mix in Cubase and I bounce that mix out and export to the daw it lands in my mixes folder. And in my mixes folder you can see there are few things that I’ve got in there right now. These are sort of active items.

And then if I do any mastering you’ll see any mastering sessions show up in my mastering folder. Now I don’t do a whole lot of mastering. I don’t profess to be a mastering engineer but occasionally that is a service that I tack on to what I do as a mix engineer. Okay!

There are also some random folders in here, if I’m working with Final Cut to do some video, all of its scratch drives and so forth are here and my waves presets landed here as well. Primarily, this is where my projects live.

Now moving down the list, I’ve got a another hard drive that is for my sample base instruments and their sample libraries. And so, the theory here is that, again I’m getting progressively more… I guess advantageous use of my drive capacities, not just the capacities to store stuff but the propensity to read and write data more quickly and simultaneously. So, my operating system is running on drive one, my audio that I’m recording and playing back lives on drive 2, so that theres a separate stylus dedicated to just to that task. If I hit a key on my keyboard when I open up, say you know Omnisphere or Superior Drummer or one of the sample base VST instruments, those samples are being streamed so that I can hear them from another hard drive. So, there’s another stylus reading and writing that data. Okay! And that’s what I keep on this drive. In here are all of the sound libraries for a few of the instruments that I use and that I get a lot of pleasure out of and that’s what that drive is dedicated for.

The next thing I have down the list is my…I call it my 3 terabyte big drive. This is just storage. Its just 3,000 gigabytes of space that I can store things. For example these videos I produce for you here at the TechMuzeAcademy, all of the session files, and the edits and the exports and so forth they live on this drive. So, I can always go back to them if I need to in the future. So, that pretty self-explanatory – just storage.

Next down the list, I’ve got another drive called Vault and this is a kind of archive drive as well. Now this, my 3 terabyte drive is a recent acquisition. I just got that. Before I got it, I would use this partition here called Vault as a place to store data. But it was quickly running out of space and so I sort of repurposed it to just video files and my iPhoto library and these video files are things like tutorial videos and things of that nature that I’ve purchased in the past and have learned from and of course don’t want to get rid of. They’re all in digital format, they’re all in DVDs, so this is where I store them.

And then down the list here, these last two volumes, most important, if you only have one hard drive and the budget… like inside your computer, and the budget allows to purchase one extra drive, use it for this purpose. And this a back-up and if you’ve followed me for a while you’d know that I’m a big, big proponent of backing-up because it only takes one system crash or drive failure for you to realize that I’m right. He, he, he, okay! So,I use… if you’ve heard of some of my other talks of backing-up you’ll know that I use a couple of different things. One of them is a complete block-level clone of my system…spoke about that recently, last week in a video called Duplicate Your System. If you want to learn more about that, check that out. But this is what that drive I use for that purpose so I use a piece of software called Carbon Copy Cloner and what it does is every couple of days it will do a complete mirror image clone of my system drive and it will store it on my Mac back-up drive. So, that’s bootable by the way. I can actually turn the computer off and reboot into the back-up drive. I can take my Snow Leopard drive and out of the computer all together and I’d still be able to boot to my desktop and continue working and because all of my other files are on different hard drives I have access to everything even if my main system volume fails. Okay!

And then the last thing I use on the Mac, if you are a Windows user this is not available to you, But on the Mac, there’s a built-in feature called Time Machine, and Time Machine takes periodic updates of any files that change on my system.  So, if I accidentally delete something I can go back and get it. Time Machine is located up here and if I enter the volume now we’ll see if this works… then you can see here that I can go back into time with all the drives that I do back-up. Its mainly my system drive and documents and so forth. So, I can go back to sometime yesterday, sometime in October. And if I go there it will take me to that point in history and as my folders look at that point in history and if I go into document or any of these things I can retrieve files that I may have accidentally deleted. Okay! So, that is Time Machine.

And that in a nutshell is how I get the absolute most out of my computer system via the strategic use of both file management and multiple hard drives allowing multiple styluses or styli as it maybe pronounced to do the reading and writing of my data simultaneously so that I get a better performance. So, I hope you find that useful and we will see you on the next quick tip.

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