Backing Up Your Music Files

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Music servers and computer audio
Backing Up Your Music Files

Perhaps you store your music files on a network-attached storage, or NAS, drive so you can share them with several playback devices in your home. The basic back-up strategy outlined above will work for files on a NAS, except to access the NAS you’ll have to open your network window to show the music files you want to back up. Then you select them and copy them to an external hard drive using the same process I’ve described. Your NAS may offer a simpler way to back up its contents; if so, use that way.

My basic back-up strategy will protect you against everything except a physical catastrophe, like a fire or theft. You can guard against such a catastrophe by taking an extra step: after making a back- up copy on an external hard drive, store that hard drive somewhere away from your home. I make two back-up copies— one I keep nearby in case my main drive fails, and the other I give to a friend to hold for me.

I recently had an occasion to test this strategy. When my NAS failed, I just retrieved the back-up copy from my friend and plugged it into the laptop computer that’s my server, and I was operational again. And I still had another back-up copy. I use a portable hard drive for my off-site back-up drive, since I don’t want to bother with a power supply. But I have less than 2TB of music files; otherwise, I’d need a larger backup.

The last type of system I’ll address is a dedicated server where music files are stored on internal hard drives or solid- state drives. Examples of dedicated servers are the Aurender W20 or Wyred 4 Sound Music Server MS-2. With any server that stores music files internally, you’re at the mercy of the designer. If the server is accessible on your home network, and you can view the contents of its drive from a computer on the network, you can treat the server just like an NAS and use my basic back-up strategy to back up the contents of the server’s drives. Some dedicated servers have their own back-up procedures, which may be even easier. I’m currently reviewing a server that lets you plug a USB drive into it and use the remote control app to create a backup. When you’re buying a dedicated server, it’s very important to make sure there’s some way to back up the files from the server’s internal drive. If there’s no way to do that, I’d take a pass on that server.

To summarize, you can back up your music files on your server by simply copying them to an external hard drive. If the hard drive in your server fails, you can plug the back-up drive into your server and be immediately on the air again, if your hardware permits. You can add an additional layer of protection by copying your music files to a second external hard drive and giving that drive to a friend for safekeeping. These are pretty simple things to do; but I’ll bet more than one reader ignores them. There are other ways to back up your files; if you prefer a different back-up procedure, fine, as long as you use some procedure. I wanted to pick one as simple as possible.

Remember, all hard drives fail eventually, and your collection of music files is or will be the biggest investment in your audio system. These procedures are simple and don’t take much time. Now it’s up to you to actually implement them.