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By Brian Grimmett

Protect the vault!

"Do I need to back up my music?" Services such as Pandora, Spotify, and YouTube have seemingly made possessing a music library obsolete. For a casual listener or someone on the go, taking advantage of these streaming programs makes sense. There is a huge range of songs available this way, and it eliminates the storage issues of a music library.

However easy this method is, though, not everyone will be satisfied with it. Creating your own unique playlist is not always a possibility with streaming apps, and service can get interrupted due to a lousy internet connection. For all the music available on the internet, there is also a plethora of obscure artists whose work can be incredibly difficult to track down and may not be available on any streaming program.

This is why it is still useful to back up any important music you will always want to have. Ripping music from a CD or downloading a digital copy from a website are two popular methods of getting desired songs. Before you begin, understanding the different formats they will come in is essential. A number of different formats are used for music, including FLAC, APE, MP3, ALAC, and more.

MP3 and FLAC are the two used most often; the former is a lossy format and the latter is lossless. When using an iPod or cellphone to play music, lossy formats tend to be a good choice because the files are compressed to be smaller. (Remember that quality is lost to make the size smaller.) When it comes to archiving, FLAC is the best choice since it preserves the quality of the source material. Those primarily using Apple products may want to use ALAC, which is basically FLAC for the iOS system since it doesn't support the FLAC format. Those curious to know about APE should be aware that though it's the smallest of the lossless formats, it is supported by few programs. The format is slowly gaining some traction, particularly among audiophiles.

Once the desired format has been decided upon, then comes the task of backing it all up. Physical storage comes in the hard drive of a computer or as an external drive. This is a very simple and straightforward method for archiving a library. All it requires is creating the desired directory and folders and dropping the files into their respective places. The other method of storage involves using a cloud. This is storage located online instead of on a physical drive. The benefits of online storage include the ability to access files on the go and the fact that any device can access the files. Cloud storage also removes the trouble of carting equipment around.

In the end, a wise move is to have a library backed up through a cloud as well as a physical drive. Users have reported files disappearing from online storage accounts, and we all know dropping a hard drive could destroy anything on it. Many cloud services automatically sync with a physical drive, making it incredibly easy to ensure the safety of a library. Besides, fabulous music collections are much of the reason we have the music that exists today.

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