Pick a portable hard drive for your music catalog.

I’ve been recording music since 1989 and each year since I’ve saved my songs, stems and album covers on Cassettes, DATs, Zip Disks, CDs, DVDs, assorted hard drives and even in the cloud. Today with each new important music social network or online music retailer that arrives I have to upload my entire catalog again. The past few times I’ve done this by digging into all the old CDs repeatedly. Today I put an end to that madness. I purchased a portable bus powered USB 2.0 drive that is the new grand central station of all the music I ever created (and all the music on my record label). Each release is in its own folder containing the song in all formats, artwork and remix files. When it’s time to upload to Trackitdown I have 320kpbs MP3s using the Lame encoder ready. Beatport? No problem Wavs are at hand. Oh yeah, I also keep 30 second previews saved too.

This is a novel idea but I feel good that I finally got around to it. I think this massive futz was just in the nick of time as my old Tascam DA-30 DAT machine was making squeaking sounds. The next step is to use SuperDuper! and regularly clone the new baby. It’s true that someone could steal my entire music catalog all in one swoop but those interested are already doing that online (har har). I put a .txt document on the drive titled Contact_Me.txt. I hope if the drive ever does get lost, stolen and found a nice person will be kind enough to reach me. I’m considering also encrypting the drive. I’ve heard Leo Laporte on the TWIT podcast mention software to just that. What was it called again? As long as it’s not too tricky or kill the performance of the drive why not.

So what exactly did I get? I’m in Berlin so I walked down to Alexanderplatz to Mediamarkt and grabbed a Western Digital “My Passport” 160GB bus powered USB 2.0 drive. I know Firewire would be a bit faster but I am purely just using the drive for file storage and I have more USB ports than Firewire ones available. This drive was only 67€, anything with Firewire was over 150€. Check out the photos of this thing: click here I know its geeky to look at hard drive photos but this thing is uber nice. It’s white, tiny and has a white LED power light that also blinks when the drive is in action. To top it off it came with a short white USB cable.


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Oliver Chesler

"Hello my name is Oliver and I'm going to tell you a story." I have been recording music since 1989 under the name The Horrorist. I have released over 60 singles and 4 full length albums. To hear my music please go to: thehorrorist.com

12 thoughts on “Pick a portable hard drive for your music catalog.”

  1. It look like an Ikea “thing” !

    “I know its geeky to look at hard drive photos”… :) More geeky than Stamba posting pictures of uber-old-fashioned-music-hardware !

    You should buy another one for backup… and a dozen with your latest track to sell to your fans for 99.90 + s/h !

    I dream about an external hard-drive with a Simon Memory Game design, playing the “Close Encounters of the third kind” soundtrack : http://www.fanboy.com/images/retroscifi06-simon.jpghttp://fr.youtube.com/watch?=&v=oiQse9XibQw

  2. I have 2 externaldrives, they are powered though, I think most of the self powered USB ones run at 5400, surely if your transferring massive files all the time you’d be better off getting a powered one for all that data transferring, actually yeh, Im with Marc, you should definitely get another HD with all your songs on it for backup reasons, make the other one a 7200RPM/powered one that sits in your studio and keep the loevely looking one you got as your portable one

  3. The new little guy is just for my full music catalog. In my office I have a Macbook Pro with the internal 7200rpm drive and a Lacie Firewire 500GB hooked to it for Time Machine backups. At the studio my Mac Pro has 2 500GB internal SATA’s one just backs up the other each night. But yes I agree… the new little freak needs a backup brother!

  4. on your macbook, instead of having one auto-backup to the other, why not just set up Raid-1? That way the data is copied onto both drives simultaneousl., If one fails, the other is ready to go immediately, and it’ll automatically recopy all your files (so you have 2 copies again) as soon as you replace the failed disk. RAID is great! :)

    That drive is too pretty. I bet apple is ashamed they can’t take credit for it.

  5. Hi Jim. I think the next level for me will a Firewire Drobo. Do you know about them? Check it out: drobo

    I wish online backup to “the cloud” was ready for primetime. That’s the best option because it also is fireproof/theftproof. But considering the large media files I’m always working with it’s just too slow.

  6. Hey guys,
    I keep all ov my music that i produce backed up on an external 350mb usb drive. Its decent and does the trick, i back up using Apple’s Time Machine software which comes as part of Leapord. What you may find helpful though, is my other firewire 800 drive that is self powered(bus powered). I bought it online and it was a great price($179 for 160gigs). I use this drive for when i do live shows, and also when I DJ using M-audio Torq, and thats it. It is small, and durable, which makes it ideal for what i needed. Also it is firewire 800 which was very important to me, because when i do shows with Live i have my audio interface already using the firewire 400 port on my MacBook Pro. The company i got it from has lots of other great small drives for an even cheaper price, like portable USB drives etc…. Anyways,here is a link to this great drive!


    If for some reason that link does not work just go to http://oyendigital.com and 2.5″ and just look for the FireWire 800, eSATA, USB drive.

  7. One method which is straightforward and works well is to use the built in Disk Utility to create a sparse image (it expands if needed) DMG disk image that’s encrypted. This works in a similar way to Truecrypt but is faster to set up. Leopard allows you to create 256bit AES encrypted disk images which is fine for everyday security. This is then simply mounted from the external hard drive and used like a disk as required. This method is also easy to back up as everything is in one file. You can also use this on your laptop to secure sensitive documents.

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