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Do I really need two copies of every ripped CD - an archival and a working one?


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In his 'Computer Audiophile CD Ripping Strategy and Methodology' a few years ago Chris Connaker recommended 'Rip an Archival Copy and a Working Copy in addition to keeping the original Compact Disc'. For example in flac and aiff formats if in a mac environment. Not that I am questioning his knowledge and experience, in fact I am following strictly his recommendations, using XLD, albeit with a small CD collection. But can't stop wondering if these two copies are really needed, of course keeping two copies, albeit one of them compressed, means more storage space. And I wonder is there a chance of corrupting, say, aiff files through normal usage so that one uses his archival copy to retrieve another aiff version of the album? Of course keeping an archival copy could be a warranty against accidental deletion. Thanks

 

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Logic dictates a backup strategy for your music collection. If you own all the physical CD's, one properly tagged working AIFF copy should be sufficient. My collection of 1,500 albums is a combination of ripped CD's, some of which I no longer have in my posession, vinyl needle drops, and purchased downloads, all carefully alphabetically organized by artist with correct metadata and cover art.

With the price of disk storage so cheap, it's a no-brainer for me to keep a working copy of the library on a desktop drive, a second dedicated playback drive for my audio system, a third backup HD in my home safe, and even a fourth HD copy to be stored off-site at some point.

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You can't have too many backups. Personally I would never want to re-rip a CD, so the CD itself doesn't count as a backup for me. At any point in time, even if a disk has only just failed, I would want to have at least two copies (working copy plus a backup), preferably three copies (working copy + 2 backups) of my data available.

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+1

Comprising 2 local and 1 stored remotely. I count a NAS with RAID as one copy as the controller could fail with the discs.

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OK. Thanks, guys! Still, my question wasn't answered - can files be corrupted ('worn-out') through normal playback? And should I also make separate working copies of my purchased hi-res downloads - mostly flacs and a DSD download?

 

Unlikely that a digital file will wear out from normal playback, OTOH, as we all know with computers, any file could become corrupted, or your entire hard drive, or the computer itself, could fail for any number of reasons.

I consider the original CD, if kept in its case, a legitimate backup, but, of course, you want to have backups of downloads or other files that you do not have on physical media.

Once your library is organized the way you want it, it should be S.O.P. to buy a couple of cheap hard drives and back up everything en masse.

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Files can be corrupted through normal playback - the hard drive fails. I've had it happen several times and as others have stated, the price of storage is now so cheap and with USB3.0 the backup is very fast. I buy 4TB External HD's from Costco, on sale they are around $35-40 per TB. I actually have 3 layers of BU for my 24TB of files, including one in a NAS drive that is the Synology version of RAID 6, so that is an extra BU that I don't count, since the NAS could fail. I am currently creating a fourth BU to go into a safe deposit box at my bank. Calculate any wage (even minimum) for your time and the price of BU is cheap.

 

Larry

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You cannot wear out a file by playing it. What can happen is that the data can get corrupted from user error, filesystem error, cosmic rays, etc. This is colloquially referred to as bit-rot.

 

FLAC has an internally embedded checksum, which can tell you if the audio portion of the file has been changed. AIFF doesn't have this by default, but you can add it in. I wrote a shell script (below) to do the same for ALAC files.

 

The problem with backups is that you can over-write a non-corrupted file with a corrupted one. My guess is that is the basis for Chris' recommendation. If you use this shell script with the launchd item I wrote for it, it will give you a warning if somehow the audio portion of the file has been tampered with. (I have no idea how to do this for DSD files, but it might be possible).

 

bitrot: A shell script to detect changes in the audio component of ALAC files - Blogs - Computer Audiophile

 

A couple of days ago we had a small wildfire right near the house, reminding me of the need to keep a second, off-site backup at a remote physical location.

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There is no need to store music in multiple formats, or keep multiple copies on the same drive.

You should absolutely keep at least one copy of the files on an external drive as a backup though - at least one of which should only ever be connected to the computer when backing up, and then immediately disconnected and stored in a safe place.

 

FLAC has an internally embedded checksum, which can tell you if the audio portion of the file has been changed. AIFF doesn't have this by default, but you can add it in. I wrote a shell script (below) to do the same for ALAC files.
Right - but FLAC files are checked when you try to play them, AIFF has no mechanism for this.

 

I was shocked to find that FLAC seems to be the only format which has this level of internal checking, and I would not recommend anyone use anything but FLAC for their music library.

 

The problem with backups is that you can over-write a non-corrupted file with a corrupted one.
This is why I would keep multiple backups and stagger them.

 

I have disks for: hourly, daily, weekly, monthly, yearly backups.

Two disks for the weekly backups actually - they are large enough to store two weeks of backups each and are rotated every week.

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You should definitely have at least one off server backup that you keep up to date.

I have two.

 

I personally have accidentally written over a good copy of music files with corrupted copies, so again, that's a reason to have at least 2 copies

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Also if you have a friend with a fireproof safe who lives in a nearby city, put a third backup there.

To be honest your friend doesn't even need to have a fireproof safe... Or really live anywhere other than not in the same house as you. Just ask a friend to store a spare backup disc in a drawer...

Color me paranoid.

Is that a specific shade on the Dulux colour chart?

 

Going back to the original question ... I think the concept behind the archival copy is that if you want to do things like off-line sample rate conversions you always keep the archival copy and then if a different algorithm comes alone you can return to the original version very easily. The whole article though was more about Chris' personal methodology rather than saying "this is what you SHOULD be doing!"

Eloise

---

...in my opinion / experience...

While I agree "Everything may matter" working out what actually affects the sound is a trickier thing.

And I agree "Trust your ears" but equally don't allow them to fool you - trust them with a bit of skepticism.

keep your mind open... But mind your brain doesn't fall out.

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To be honest your friend doesn't even need to have a fireproof safe... Or really live anywhere other than not in the same house as you. Just ask a friend to store a spare backup disc in a drawer...

 

I want to cover myself for the potential earthquake / wild fire / asteroid trifecta. Northern California can be a dangerous place.

 

In reality I usually have one backup copy in Shanghai in addition to the archival one in Berkeley. Maybe Zombie Apocalypse is the only thing that I am not covered for.

You must have chaos within you to give birth to a dancing star

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I've put in too much time and effort over many years, ripping CDs (most of my music) and downloading high-rez albums (and cleaning up the metadata), to not have multiple backups. The CDs themselves, which I still own, are some catastrophic level backup…but I'd hate to spend all that time all over again ripping and finding covers and re-doing metadata.

 

I have several hard drives attached to my work computer, where I do all my ripping and downloading, and I use Carbon Copy Cloner to backup, as needed, which makes that task easy.

 

But what if my house caught fire and was destroyed? Then I have a hard drive, periodically updated, in my bank's safe deposit box.

 

But I also live near one of the older nuclear power plants, and what if that went wrong? Well then, both my home and my bank could be off-limits. So I plan to send a hard drive, with my current music backed up, to the home of a friend who lives about 630 miles away. While not a perfect solution, it could help.

 

And if cloud storage for about 1TB of data ever became really cheap, well then...

 

Hey, all the other possessions in my home -- from bicycles and furniture, to clothing and the audio systems themselves -- are more readily replaced in case of major catastrophe than the digital music. But hard drives are now relatively inexpensive, so that's how I'm playing the game.

 

Dave, who would have the friend send that hard drive back to him about every half-year after getting backup number two which is more updated and just keep going through that cycle

++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Music is love, made audible.

++++++++++++++++++++++++++

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Damn... I never contemplated the danger of writing over a good backup with a bad one. Sigh.

 

I do use the free Dir Sync Pro software to make incremental backups of my library. It offers every parameter imaginable to configure your backup and ensure that you know exactly what it will do in advance. But even the thought of accidentally corrupting a good backup that means that I really should maintain a third copy that I back up much less frequently.

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... But I also live near one of the older nuclear power plants, and what if that went wrong? ...

 

Then you'd be dead and wouldn't need any backups at all.

"People hear what they see." - Doris Day

The forum would be a much better place if everyone were less convinced of how right they were.

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But I also live near one of the older nuclear power plants, and what if that went wrong?

Then you'd be dead and wouldn't need any backups at all.

 

A) Not everyone near Three Mile Island or even Chernobyl died.

B) What if the event happened when I wasn't home.

 

Yes, yes, yes…you were probably joking around.

Why don't I have that much humor about this topic?

I dunno. An existential question.

 

Smiles,

 

Dave, who finds this one of the few places lately he agrees with the incumbent governor of his state and remembers when he was a young boy reading newspapers he thought the word "incumbent" was somehow related to the word "incompetent"

++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Music is love, made audible.

++++++++++++++++++++++++++

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Solution is straightforward:

 

Mirror your drives. Not only will it prevent bit-rot by checksuming between copies but also speed access. Use a software RAID like ZFS which allows snapshots. With software RAID you don't have to worry about controller failing -- you can actually move drives between computers having different OS assuming they each run ZFS. BTFS is another option.

Custom room treatments for headphone users.

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@jabbr - mirroring does protect you against drive failure but not stupidity.

 

I speak from experience having mirrored my drives for years. I still keep a separate back-up as mirroring doesn't protect from idiots (i.e. me) accidentally deleting things nor from a corrupted file getting mirrored and overwriting the original.

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Mirror your drives. Not only will it prevent bit-rot by checksuming between copies but also speed access. Use a software RAID like ZFS which allows snapshots. With software RAID you don't have to worry about controller failing -- you can actually move drives between computers having different OS assuming they each run ZFS. BTFS is another option.
No, RAID is not a backup solution.

Any errors on one drive are propagated to the other.

 

RAID protects you against a dead disk, nothing more. You have no protection against data corruption or accidental/malicious damage to files.

 

btrfs is currently in development. It's exciting stuff, but I would not entrust my important data to it yet.

 

There is nothing as good as keeping scheduled redundant copies of your data, on disks which are disconnected from the system after each backup.

 

In my system there are three "live" disks with the data on it - the data itself, the hourly backup, and the daily backup. The hourly and daily backup disks are ReFS drives.

 

The weekly/monthly/yearly backups are backed up and immediately disconnected from the system, with the weekly drives stored off-site on rotation.

These backups are simple file copies, stored on NTFS drives so that they would be accessible from any computer. (ReFS is Windows 8.1/Server 2012 only right now)

I will soon be moving my yearly backup off-site as well, to a different location from the weekly/monthly backups.

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No, RAID is not a backup solution.

Any errors on one drive are propagated to the other.

 

RAID protects you against a dead disk, nothing more. You have no protection against data corruption or accidental/malicious damage to files.

 

btrfs is currently in development. It's exciting stuff, but I would not entrust my important data to it yet.

 

There is nothing as good as keeping scheduled redundant copies of your data, on disks which are disconnected from the system after each backup.

 

In my system there are three "live" disks with the data on it - the data itself, the hourly backup, and the daily backup. The hourly and daily backup disks are ReFS drives.

 

1) RAID is not backup -- I neglected to write that I *also* use rsync to intermittently copy changed files to a backup drive. This drive can be mounted and unmounted as desired.

 

2) ZFS in particular most certainly DOES detect and protect against data corruption. Using snapshots you can most certainly protect against accidental/malicious changes to files in a very low cost fashion -- read about it.

True errors on one drive are NOT automatically propagated to the other drive -- the block checksums won't match. Since ZFS is copy on write, using frequent snapshots creates very very low overhead -- like an automatic time machine in OS X terms.

 

3) ZFS has been in use and has been long entrusted to data far more important than any audio you have on your system. Assuming you keep your source discs e.g. CD, you don't really need to also backup your audio. The most important data that I have are our family photos and videos. ZFS and intermittent rsync with a drive kept at an alternate location.

Custom room treatments for headphone users.

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