Last month was my birthday and saw the completion of another year on this green and blue planet that we call home. As a present to myself, I purchased a Blackmagic MultiDock 10g, which is something that I have wanted to get hold for many a year. In this short blog post, I give you a quick overview of what it is and provide some interesting speed test results.
There is one thing I think all fellow musicians will agree on, you can never have enough storage. Those sample libraries all sound very nice, but they consume a lot of disk space. Even some of the least hungry ones can consume anywhere from 10 - 40 gigabytes of disk space. For speedy access to these libraries, you will be wanting to run them from an SSD and these currently have limited capacity when compared to their mechanical HDD brethren. I briefly cover the reasons why you would want to run your sample libraries off an SSD in this article here.
When you start running out of space inside your PC to add drives, the only way to expand is by utilizing external storage. To maintain the speed you are looking at using USB3 or USB-C connections, unfortunately, USB2 just doesn't cut it and is not really a viable option. After much research, I decided to purchase a Blackmagic MultiDock 10g rackmount interface. This uses the USB-C connection and promises up to 10gb/sec read speed, which is way above what most SSD storage drives can provide and you should not run out of bandwidth any time soon.
Okay, enough of the overview time for some speed tests. To give you a comparison I have provided four-speed tests below. The first is from my internal M.2 drive and as expected this provides blindingly fast performance. The next internal test is from the SSD PCI-e card that houses two 1TB Crucial MX-500 drives and performs reasonably well. I should add here that due to the design of my PC case I am unable to house these drives in a conventional manner and attach them to the motherboard by SATA cables.
Samsung Evo 970 Plus m.2
The next two tests are the interesting ones as these are from the Blackmagic unit. You can see that running 4 drives or 2 drives on one cable does not provide much difference in terms of speed. The drives currently housed in this unit are 3 x Samsung 840evo drives and 1 x Samsung 850evo. The tests show that I am getting the same rated performance from these drives as though they were internal SATA connected drives.
Samsung 850 Evo with Two Bay switch engaged
Samsung 850 Evo with Four Bay switch engaged
For a more detailed overview of this dock I produced a brief video on my YouTube channel.
If you decide to follow my path and purchase one of these docks, there are a couple of things to be aware of. The first is that there are no connection leads within the box. All you get is the unit, no power lead and certainly, no USB-C leads. This is a shame considering the price you are paying for this unit and that not all USB-C leads are the same.
Yes, a USB-C cable is not necessarily going to provide you with USB-C type speeds so you will want to be careful when you make that purchase. I can recommend the following USB-C lead by Fasgear available from ye olde Amazon at a reasonable price. This is the lead I used to provide the speed tests that you can see in this post.
The question then remains, should you buy one. If you have a spare 19-inch rack space in your studio and wonder what to fill it with and you require more drive storage space, then go for it. Despite the initial issues regarding sourcing the right USB-C cable, I cannot recommend this unit enough. It runs whisper quiet and provides hot-swapping storage for your libraries. The problem you may have is finding somewhere that stocks these units as they do sell pretty quick.
If you enjoyed this article and have any questions about the Blackmagic MultiDock please leave a comment below. Also consider signing up to the newsletter for all the latest news, tips, tech and reviews.
As the dust settles on the Universal Music Group fire, where a number of recording tapes where lost, it is time to look at our own personal data storage backup plans. In this article, I will be sharing with you my backup plan to ensure the projects I work on are protected as much as possible.
What do I mean by an immediate backup? This is where you copy your projects to an external hard drive connected by USB, Thunderbolt or eSATA. Once this is complete I then store it in a fireproof bag then put into a fire and waterproof lockable safe. Sounds a little overkill, but think of it this way, if the worst happens at least you are afforded some protection and stand a chance of saving your data.
It is also essential that you do not become lazy and only update the backup every now and again. Set a reminder in your phone for a specific point or points during the week so that you are prompted to update that backup.
Having a Network Attached Storage (NAS for short) can open the world to a lot of options. One of them is to have your own private cloud storage. Although a NAS can hold a number of disks in RAID format, RAID is not a backup. RAID is there for when one of your hard drives in the NAS dies. You should then be able to replace that drive and rebuild the data without it being lost or corrupted.
I use my NAS to store all my projects both active and those archived as complete. The nifty feature I also use is to set an incremental backup going when I switch off my PC. In basic terms, I use Aomei Backupper to copy any changed files from my project folder on the PC directly to the NAS when I switch off the PC. That way if the hard drive fails on my PC I will always have a working copy available.
This can be a lifesaver if you value the work you have put into your latest EP, Album or Single. It is also useful when you accidentally delete the wrong file, as you will always have a working copy backup up ready to restore.
"Set a reminder in your phone for a specific point or points during the week so that you are prompted to update that backup."
Another useful thing with a NAS is that you can take back some semblance of control from online cloud storage This is known as self-hosting. For example, you can set up a full-on Plex media server or run your own password vault like Bitwarden. You can also ditch your e-mail provider and run your very own mail server if you so wish, but that is a PITA to set up and maintain.
These are only a few examples of what you can do with your own NAS. But we digress slightly off-topic. When you have your local storage all sorted you now need to think about off-site options.
To make the plan complete, I have my NAS backup the more recent in-progress work direct to the cloud. However, this is not just a direct backup of files but an encrypted backup. The NAS I use allows client-side encryption, which as the name suggests, encrypts the files into a container before it hits the cloud storage of your choice.
Most NAS devices will allow backup to the big hitters in cloud storage like Google, OneDrive, DropBox and even Mega. Using this method as the final link in the chain you have an offsite backup if the worst should happen.
I should also add that I store my encryption keys on a USB pen drive that is also in a fireproof bag stored within the fire and waterproof safe. A copy is also held offsite also on a USB pen drive.
Naturally, there is a cost attached to cloud storage but it is a small price to pay for the added security. What I would suggest is not to backup the whole of your NAS, that would be too costly, but rather choose the data that you would find hard to replace. That’s the data to value and backup.
Well, there you have my backup plan. It may sound overkill but what value do you put on your data? If you have spent many hours and months putting your latest album together only for a hard drive to crash at the final moment a backup will get you up and running quickly.
For those interested in the NAS itself, I use a Synology 1819+, which is accessed by my music computer on a wired network. The reason for a wired network is that data transfer for multi-gigabyte files is safer and has less chance of dropouts than a wireless network.
A correctly configured network will allow you to transfer large files at over 100mb/s and so multi-gigabyte operations do not take too long to complete.
I would be interested to hear about other people’s backup strategies or if you have ways you can improve the one I have implemented. Leave a comment below about how you approach storing your data in case the worst happens, that way we can all share from each other.