With today's recording systems becoming more accessible to the masses, musicians are finding it to be more cost-effective to record themselves. The technology is easier to use. In fact, one could argue the technology is helping inspire musicians and realize their ideas.
With all that inspiration, it's easy to amass large amounts of data quickly. When the creative bug bites, there's not enough time to setup the projects properly and plan the file structure. Most often, the Getting Started guide for the recording system sits on the shelve collecting dust never to be opened until a phone call to the manufacturer's technical support department reveals the reason they've been so frustrated for the past week is because they didn't check a preference setting that is mentioned on p.17 of said guide and critical to efficiency of the system. The same eagerness to jump right in with both feet is applicable to production and creating music.
I understand the sense of urgency. When the mood strikes, the creative mind needs to continue being artistic. Taking a little time to plan ahead is a road block and can derail the creative process. I would suggest two things: plan ahead before the mood strikes and take a little time when it does to prevent major derailments down the road.
One of the best things I learned after college while working in Hollywood, was to take a little extra time to get it done right the first time. If you don't, hastiness will come back to haunt you. I had a couple of great mentors there at Bernie Grundman Mastering. Karl Bischof and Beno May. Both demonstrated the necessity for proper planning. Studio construction and maintenance is a topic for another day. On to prep work.
Before I work with a band, we have a pre-production meeting to discuss everything from instrumentation to workflow to new strings on a guitars and new heads on drums a day or two in advance of the session. If you are a musician and are planning to record yourself, it would behoove you to have that meeting with yourself. A couple of ideas to ponder.
Firstly, it's a good idea to think about creating a template or two based on your workflow to have on hand before creativity bounces into the studio. That way you can be creative and still keep everything organized.
Secondly, if the templates are not there, take the extra thirty seconds to create a folder in the thoughtful location to house your project. Simply starting and creating a new project based on an old one and saving it willy-nilly on any drive, is a recipe for disaster.
In Pro Tools, there can be literally thousands of files for one session. The best practice is to have a dedicated drive for your audio. Some people might have multiple drives attached to their computers at any given time. This can be quite hard to manage down the road. Simplicity is the key. This is true for any DAW.
The second best piece of advice I learned from helping others correct their mistakes, is to have two backups of everything. Try to keep your backups incremental. There are programs out there that can help keep track of all that. SuperDuper! is one of them. This program can look at your source drive and your backup drive and look for the "newer" files and backup only those files. It sure beats comparing the dates of each file and cuts down on the number of duplicate files.
The reason for two backups is simple; if something happens to your master, your first backup becomes your master. If you have no other backups and something happens to your backup, you don't have another backup. It's also a good idea to keep the backups in two separate locations. Some might argue to archive your projects in different formats to retain the viability of retrieving the data later. This could be useful.
Hard disk maintenance is another key issue. It is recommended to reinitialize a hard disk every week if it is used to record media more than forty hours a week. Doing so and restoring from a backup is the best method of de-fragmentizing the data as well.
By following the steps I've outlined, I'm confident you'll have many happy years with your drives and the art that resides on them. I have a 2GB Seagate Barracuda that is still running to this day and never complains. I don't play with him much anymore because he's a little loud. He deserves the rest for all the work he's done for me the last 15 years.
Be kind to your data and it will be kind to you.
I'm interested to find out what interests you. I've had one suggestion already about "over-limiting" or "over-compression"; what it is, what it means and how does it affect us? Let me know!
Rock. Roll. Repeat.