When a file gets corrupted or a drive crashes in the middle of the design process – a not so rare occurrence – the world stops for the designer who forgot to make backups. No matter how much you love your job, it is never fun to have to go stuff all over again just because of a freak incident. We get that. We need to be redundant with our files to prevent unfortunate losses. But how can we get around the obvious issue of storage space? Tom Hazzard and Tracy Hazzard talk about some of the things you can do to fix this.
Listen to the podcast here:
Organizing Your 3DP Files – Backups & Redundancy
This is the Ask Us Anything segment.
This anything is a little bit more on the design side.
It’s part two of something we started with a previous Ask Us question.
It’s about how we organize our 3D design files and how we organize the design process in general. This is a great question because if you’ve not embarked on designing the way that we have over the years, you don’t know what you’re going to be missing if you haven’t organized yourself well. Design files, as you get farther into them, as you get into multiple iterations as you’re dialing in your settings and everything. It gets complicated as to which ones you keep and which ones you don’t. Do you overwrite? Do you not? We talked about that a lot of how we organized that, but we want to talk about the big importance of backing up and redundancy.
It’s also making sure you have a plan in place or a process you go through for saving a lot of different stages of files you’re working on. Maybe we use one of our files as an example.
One of the things is this comes up in all kinds of design areas and all kinds of other areas because our video editor was talking to me about the issue of occasionally a file gets corrupted in the export process. You’ve gone all the way through the whole process. You’ve done all the editing and if you’ve overwritten, in our case, designs and in his case, videos, your raw footage, or whatever, you can’t recover from that. That’s why redundancy is important because corruption happens in files and drives breakdown. If this is going to be your business or if this is critically important and this design is important to your family, a memorial ornament, or something like that, you don’t want to lose this.
Maybe a trophy for your kid’s sporting events or whatever you may have created to 3D print. It happens to us in our podcast as well because we don’t edit our podcasts ourselves. We have an editor who does that for us but we record all the original files and save them. I always save two different copies of them. One on a special drive and one on a separate server, so two different copies of it before I then upload it for the editor to get an edit. He’s had it happen where he’s had one of those files get corrupted, and it probably happens as it’s being transferred from here to there over the internet. He’s needed me to get him the original source files more than once. We’re in the eleventh hour of exporting our podcast, the final version, there’s a corruption on the file and it doesn’t work.
The same thing happens. We found it out. We were printing our angel for the holidays which we were printing them up. We give them as teacher gifts. We’re putting up the harmony version of the angel and I was noticing a little jag in one of the letters. It was like skipping a layer. We were lucky enough that not only did we save the original source file, but we saved the G-codes of the various ones we ran over the months, or however we’re dialing in settings. You can go back and check them all and say, “Did this originate in the source or has this happened in the processing?”
All of our models don’t start out as an STL. The STL is the format we export from our CAD program. They have a different format they’re saved in, but I save many different versions of a file as I’m creating it. Having backups along the way and having multiple copies in different places is critical.
The big issue is that this takes a lot of storage space. You have to be aware that these CAD files take space and storing extra redundant backups takes space, so you have to plan that ahead. Get a big drive. They’re cheap. The number of terabytes is crazy. When you go to Costco or something, you can buy a five-terabyte drive than what we paid for to get 500 gigabytes a couple of years ago. It’s crazy.
I would definitely be thinking of backup drives in terms of terabytes, not in terms of gigabytes. Disk space is only getting cheaper.
There’s also cloud storage and other things that are going on. You have to watch out for security in those things and make sure because you’ve got to upload them to the server somewhere. There are issues with that. We hate Dropbox. It’s not because Dropbox is not useful. It’s a useful transfer tool, but putting up big files takes forever.
It’s slow regardless of how fast our internet speed is. That drives me a little crazy.
We have one of these little My Cloud servers from home and it takes forever for our video editor to serve up files to it. Even those that are supposed to be fast, they aren’t. You have to keep that in mind if this is going to be frustrating for you.
Another best practice is wherever you’re copying your files from to go up to a cloud, or to go to a backup drive, or two of yours. I always wait to delete the original files if I need that space on a local computer drive. It’s not your big backup drive. I always wait to delete those until after it’s copied to other places, I’ve verified and opened those files and made sure that they worked, so they’re not corrupted.
You’re going to save them there but check them. I can’t tell you how many times that happens. We’ve loaded up a podcast or we’ve loaded up a video and it doesn’t work, even though we thought it did.
You end up uploading files again. Hopefully, you haven’t deleted them but if you deleted the originals, then you’re stuck. Remember our videographer lost a bunch of files completely that was corrupted and he hadn’t backed them up. They were corrupted at some point on the source disk or SD card or whatever they were on. If we had back them up soon enough, maybe they’re not having to reshoot some video, and that’s not a fun situation.
Anyway, that’s our recommendation for that. You want to seriously think about setting an auto backup. I don’t know about you but I get lazy and I keep saying, “I’m going to back up every week,” but I don’t do it. If you don’t set it up on auto backup, it won’t back up for you. I can tell you you’re going to get busy and you’re going to forget. You’re not going to do it and then you’re going to have trouble.Taking a few seconds to back your files up is nothing compared to doing things all over again because of a lost file. Click To Tweet
Do you know what’s strange? You keep inbox zero every day in your email and you’re always clearing it out yet you don’t back up.
I have some things that automatic backup to the cloud. I don’t worry about those items like my calendar. I don’t worry about my calendar and I don’t worry about my email because it’s in the cloud as well. The only thing I backup is our financial files. Those are always backed up about every other day.
Here’s the strange thing. I don’t keep inbox zero well. I get to inbox zero once every quarter. It’s not that I haven’t gone through the email and done what need to do with them. It’s just that I haven’t taken the time to file them away or delete them or whatever.
If you open it, you can file it. It takes two clicks.
You finally get it down to zero and then it will slowly creep up over the next three months. When it comes to backing up files, I am absolutely methodical and detailed. On a daily basis, I’m backing them up to multiple places. I don’t know what the mental block is for me about email or the mental block is for you about the other files that you’re doing.
Every time I was supposed to go on an airplane, especially when I go to China or whatever, I have that panic attack that I better back everything up before I walk out the door.
You forget to do it until late that night before and it takes the computer all night to do it. You’re lucky it gets done before you leave.
Anyway, enough about us. We digress, but we highly suggest you put in good practices from the start of your 3D printer.
Especially if you’re setting up your student, child, niece, nephew, or whatever with a 3D printer and a computer to do it on, you need to think about this as well.
An external drive is a worthwhile investment. Anyway, we hope that helps you. If you have any other questions about designs, backing up, or any of these kinds of organizational things as you’re starting 3D printing, that’s what we’re here for. You can find us anywhere on social media @HazzDesign and over our two websites, WTFFFPodcast.com and that’s Info@WTFFFPodcast.com or 3DStartPoint.com.
They’re both on the same site. One is the subpage of the other, but we’re giving you everywhere you can to find us.
Whatever you can remember.
Thanks for reading, everybody.
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