How To Declutter Your DJ Library: Part 3

Joey Santos | Read time: 3 mins
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Last updated 5 April, 2018


Backing Up
In this third and final instalment of our decluttering series, we take a look at backup options for archiving your DJ library.

We began our series on decluttering by removing tracks from your DJ library that you didn’t really love or enjoy anymore, and we set the ones that you used for special events and occasions like weddings and New Year’s Eve in a special EVENTS INBOX folder. In part two, we sorted through that EVENTS INBOX and I showed you how to add and remove them from your DJ software’s music folder list so that you only see them when you actually need them, keeping your main DJ library free from these “seasonal” tunes.

In this third and final instalment, we’ll take a look at two different methods for backing up your DJ music library.

Why do we need to back up?

Floppy disks
This is how we did file backups in the “good old” days. Just be happy that all you need to do now is click and drag to a single external hard drive!

Hard drives don’t last forever. While today’s hard drives have less moving parts than their hulking counterparts in the 90s (250MB was huge then!), hard drive failure is still a reality we all must face the closer its life use gets to double digits. That’s being generous too, because hard drives in the past become more prone to failure after reaching the four-year mark.

Apart from hard drives “crashing” or dying out, they can also be damaged if you drop them, if your laptop gets soaked during a gig (beer or otherwise), or if you’re just plain careless. A backup provides a snapshot of your entire music collection so even if the worst happens to your main hard drive, you can always restore your library later on: this is the reason why it’s important to schedule full backups of your library on a regular basis.

There are two backup storage options for archiving your DJ library, and we’ll go through the advantages and disadvantages of both…

Two backup methods

1. Physical

Lacie Hard Drive
We recommend keeping your DJ library backed up to a dedicated external drive that you keep in a safe place. However, if you really want to take it around with you for other purposes, invest in a rugged one like this Lacie hard drive. Just don’t lose it!

A physical backup comes in the form of an external hard drive. USB drives are fairly cheap and portable (you should get at least 1TB of storage), so there really is no excuse not to have one hard drive dedicated to your DJ music library, as well as other tunes such as those found in your EVENTS INBOX.

We tend to take these drives around a lot because of their portable nature, so it’s pretty easy to get them banged up or even lose them. Our recommendation is never to take your backup external hard drive to gigs – just keep them at home or in some other safe place. If you stash it in your DJ bag and someone nicks your gear, you’ve lost both your main rig and your backup library!

Pros: Inexpensive, plentiful, can add more drives as needed

Cons: Also subject to hard drive failure and wear and tear, can get lost or stolen

What to get: Western Digital 1TB WD Elements USB 3.0 Hard Drive (US$54)LaCie Rugged Thunderbolt and USB 3.0 1 TB (US$179)

2. Cloud-based

Cloud Backup
As internet speeds increase and storage becomes cheaper, cloud backup is quickly becoming a viable option. Dropbox, iCloud Drive, and Google Drive are among the most popular, and offer free basic storage as well as larger capacities for a monthly or annual fee.

A new type of backup has emerged as internet speeds have got faster – cloud backup services like Dropbox, iCloud, and Google Drive let you purchase storage space on a monthly or annual basis. I prefer using cloud services for long-term archiving of files, but when it comes to music I upload an exact copy of my physical backup drive into my Dropbox account. That way, I’m doubly sure that I’ve got two updated copies of my music library.

Of course, since it’s online the biggest disadvantage here is if you’ve got a sluggish internet connection. It’s also worth noting that not all DJ software can play music straight from Dropbox (some iOS apps can, though), so I really don’t recommend it as the only source of files while you DJ. It’s more for “off-site” storage – plus, you can access it anywhere in the world long as you can login to your account.

Pros: Getting cheaper, great for accessing your music remotely, won’t get stolen or broken or doused in a pint of beer

Cons: You need to be online to access your files, can be an annoying recurring expense as time goes on

What to get: Dropbox (US$9.99/month, US$99/year), Google Drive (15GB free, or 1TB for US$9.99/month), iCloud Drive (5GB free, or 1TB for US$9.99/month)


There’s nothing sexy about backing up your files, but there’s nothing worse than losing all your music because your laptop got busted, someone swiped your external drive at a gig, or just because you’re too damn lazy to do anything about it (guilty!).

Decluttering your DJ library isn’t a one night stand – you’re in this for the long haul, so the sooner you start and the more often you do it (and you should be scheduling these decluttering steps regularly), the easier it is for you to form the habit which will lead to a significantly more manageable DJ library as your career wears on and your collection grows.

Check out the other parts in this series:

Do you have any tips for backing up that you’d want to share? Have you tried using cloud services to archive your files, or would you rather have something “in hand” like an external disk? Let us know below.

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