Back It Up: Presentation

Over the last few days, we’ve been talking backup. Wednesday we looked at our audio backup process, and earlier this year, I detailed our lighting backup system. Today, we’ll tackle another critical discipline, though it’s perhaps the easiest to backup: Presentation. 

Unless you’re still using overhead projectors for song words and sermon graphics, presentation is very easy to back up. That is because pretty much all the files are software-based, and software is easy to back up. Since I’m a belt and suspenders type of guy, I employ a two stage backup process.

Local, Automatic Backup

As we use ProPresenter running on a MacPro, the easiest way to make sure it’s backed up is to use Time Machine. We have a 250 GB SSD as our main boot drive in the machine, and another 1 TB spinning drive as a backup. Since I really don’t want Time Machine kicking in during the service, I use a cool little program called Time Machine Editor to have it backup Saturday night and Sunday afternoon after the service should be over. This ensures that we have a live backup after Saturday night in case something goes wrong on Sunday morning. 

The beauty of Time Machine is that it’s pretty automatic and doesn’t require any intervention. It also backs up everything, which is good. The downside is that it backs up everything so if we have to restore in a hurry, we could be in trouble. That’s where the cloud comes in.

Dropbox To The Rescue

By now you know I’m a fan of Dropbox. As we discussed in our opening post, part of backing up is trying to figure out what we have to back up and how to recover. If the MacPro goes out on Sunday morning, I’m not going to worry about trying to get it back up and running right then. Instead, I’m going to grab my laptop and run from that. 

But how to get ProPresenter up and running quickly on my MacBook Pro? That’s where my post-service backup system comes into play. I marry Dropbox to a Carbon Copy Cloner script that runs at 6:30 PM Saturday and 12:30 PM Sunday (after services wrap up). Basically the script copies the playlists, presentations and templates folders to a Dropbox folder on the Mac Pro. The files are extremely small, so they are pushed up to the cloud almost immediately. 

Because my laptop normally sits in my office running 24/7, the corresponding folder in my Dropbox is also updated. A quick drag and drop is all it takes to get the files needed for the service into ProPresenter on my MBP and we’re good to go. 

This is exactly what we did this past weekend. We had to meet off-site due to the sprinkler disaster, so I copied the current files from Dropbox into my ProPresenter folders on my MacBook Pro and carried it to the gym. 

Of course, we didn't have a stage display, but we easily got through the service. If we really needed the stage display, I would borrow the USP display adapter I have at video.  

You can do the same thing with other presentation software, you just need to know where the files are stored, and which ones you need to backup for easy access. If you’re using Windows, you’ll need to poke around a little and come up with some software solutions.

What About The Projector?

That’s the one thing we really don’t have backed up. This is partially because we have a 16K Christie projector, and those are expensive. And bright. If we loose that one weekend, we’re actually in trouble. We do have two 6500 lumen projectors that we use for IMAG, and we could use one of those in a pinch. We also keep a spare bulb around at all times, just in case. 

As I said, presentation is actually pretty easy as it’s all software. One thing I’m probably going to add to this process in the near future is a full, bootable backup of the startup disk. I need to pick up another external drive and I’ll use CCC to copy the boot disk so in case the SSD goes bad, we can boot from the external and get up and running faster. 

So that’s it for presentation. Hopefully this series has inspired you to get your systems backed up. Because it’s not a matter of if equipment will fail, but when.

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