One of the problems with recording digitally to a computer using DAW software is that you can lose work in an instant if you haven’t been making regular backups. There is nothing worse than after just getting that guitar part right and working on it for (put your own time in here) it disappears, the computer has frozen and a restart is required.
What can also happen is that you can end up with a corrupted file. Say you have been working on “song one” all morning saving to the same file, what do you do when this file ceases to work, start again? well I guess you have to.
I have become somewhat paranoid about this and now make a point of saving within my DAW software to a new file name at least every half hour or so. Every half hour I’ll have a file “Song 1 two”, “Song one three” etc plus add the date to this file. This does add up to a few files by the end of a song but at least they are all there, unless of course the whole main drive of your computer goes down and that is why I save the files to a second drive and only run my audio recording program from my main drive on the computer.
A backup to a USB memory stick, a good 16gb (or larger) is also a good further backup to cover all angles after all this is your heart and soul we are recording for posterity here.
Recording using one of the many audio programs (I use Steinberg Cubase) involves a lot of data being saved to that one file. Along with your song are all the plugins that you have used, your mixer settings, VST synths etc. By the end of a session you have a lot of data all hinging on being loaded up tomorrow from one file.
So why do files corrupt and computers go down? Your operating system can lose it’s connection to where that file is, it may not remember the files number (allocated by the computer) anymore and that’s that. Audio requires a fair amount of computer grunt, the more memory the better and I always use an external sound card (I have been using a Focusrite audio firewire interface for a few years now) but there are many very good audio interfaces available. These interfaces give you a much more professional sound via the high quality audio they produce through good circuitry, you have more choice in the amount of input and output jacks, microphone preamps and are usually from my experience, quiet.
A computer checks constantly for the mouse, the keyboard, all your different plugins and the myriad of other processes it needs to function. Recording audio is processor and memory intensive, if anything is going to make your computer hit the wall then recording your audio tracks will.
An internal sound card can also pick up noise and affect your recordings but more importantly the computer is working harder using an internal soundcard instead of letting an external audio interface do a lot of the work. This may be OK if you don’t use many VST plugins but your computer memory will be sorely tested once you start to pile them on and the dreaded freezing screen may not be too far away.
Now I don’t want to sound too scary about all this, but losing hours of work using your DAW software is never fun and a few little simple methods put in place can save a lot of heartache and make the creative process just that little more relaxing.
Let the music flow.