Tips: Backups! How fast can you recover?
Over the last decade I somehow ended up being the de facto DJ software tech support guy for a tiny set of gigging Toronto DJs, which I integrated into my IT "day job" and now run as a consulting business. Of all the issues that come with a computer-integrated performance solution, the one I ran into most was a lack of proper backup and disaster recovery. Not everyone thinks about this, so let's talk about it.
How are you backing up your music and Traktor files? Is it all on a USB hard drive? Do you take a copy every x days or y gigs? Where does the backup drive sit and how fast can you get to it? Most importantly, how ready are you for a catastrophic failure? If you just started your set and an open water bottle comes sailing over the bobbing heads and onto your lappy, how quickly can you get back up and running, and (presumably) still get paid?
This is my personal setup for backup and disaster recovery. It's been tested in the field, refined by encounters with more than one drunken groomsman and many pints of lager.
I keep all my files in a paid cloud storage account (will not shill here). Paid because T&Cs are slightly better in my favour and I get better capacity, access to cloud level backups, and they are bound to maintain a certain level of recoverability as well. That's my entire Music folder including samples and remix sets etc (just shy of 2TB at peak, I've since slimmed immensely), as well as the entire Documents/Traktor contents. No issues with any unsupported formats as long as I keep the file names Windows-friendly. The way Traktor looks at and for its files isn't very complex so maintaining integration with a cloud sync isn't a lot of work.
The beauty of the cloud bit is I can get to these files anytime as long as I have internet access. Since the service I use has a synchronization app available from the app store, I simply pointed my Traktor file locations to the cloud synced folders. The sync to and from cloud is near-real-time as long as there is internet access, so both my Macs' files and mp3 tags etc are always up to date. In the rare event of a remote no-internet gig I make damned sure all files are synced up before I shut the lappies.
I also pay for a third-party cloud-to-cloud backup service. Heaven forbid <provider name redacted>'s servers go down but I can get my stuff from said third party as long as I have internet access. Again PAID, cause I don't like T&Cs that say "we actually own your stuff once you put it on here".
These services are by trusted names and can cost as little as a Netflix subscription. Well worth it for peace of mind IMO, especially if you travel.
This is where you go from "sorry show's over" to "we'll be right back someone get me a drink", right? I have a second Mac in the bag ready at all times, synced to the same cloud service and with the folders in the same locations on the hard drive. If Mac #1 ends up at the bottom of Lake Simcoe the second Mac can be up and running within 5 minutes (thank you SSDs). I like to keep similar specs to minimize how much I have to swap in terms of USB adapters, power cables, etc. USB-C is a huge boon. I also have an iPad with Traktor DJ on it with rudimentary playlists as a plan-Z.
Redundant Sound/Controller Hardware:
My trunk isn't big enough for a second S4-in-flight-case so I make do with a small portable turntable for timecode. I also make sure I have a male-1/8"-to-dual-female-1/4" adapter to plug into PA mixer, which hopefully hasn't also ended up at the bottom of Lake Simcoe. If I'm not feeling lazy I'll actually have this set up off to the side with Mac#2 and running into another channel on the house mixer. In case the backup turntable is shot and/or BOTH macbooks go out the iPad above can just be hooked in for a tough, character-building type of gig.
Properly set up, my clients could whip out a brand-new Macbook from the store, sign into their cloud and NI accounts, sync and download the settings and media, and be shaking posteriors within the hour - with a properly set-up secondary device handling the triage until then.
Hope to see some others chime in, this is my favourite setup given my usual gig type (wedding/event) but there are surely better setups for different gigs. How do you get back from a big blue screen?
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