Deleted B/Us and lost ALL audio files

I’m running Cubase 11 Artist on a Windows 10 PC. I had a number of projects saved to their own folders in my Documents directory.

Over time, I would run back ups. When I feel it’s time for me update my back up file, Cubase doesn’t seem to allow saving a new b/u to the same directory so I would create a new folder, .i.e., same song name 2, and save the new back up to that folder.

I recently finished a dozen or so recordings and wanted to clean up my back up files with fresh/final versions. In the interest of expediency (or so I hoped), I first deleted the existing back up folders and files so I could start saving one after the other fairly quickly out of Cubase. As this delete was too large for the Recycle Bin, that delete was permanent and can’t be undone.

When I went to open the song files in Cubase after that delete, to my horror, all the audio files for each song are gone. They are no where on my HD in the working documents folders where I assumed the current versions of those files were always located. As noted, this can’t be undone and those files are gone for good.

My question: I clearly am not understanding how Cubase’s file structure works:

  • For active projects, I save files in individual directories in my Documents folder.
  • I periodically do a back a folder on my desktop
  • For all future instances of opening this file to work with it further, I am opening the path that is in my Documents directory
  • But it seems that once I establish a B/U folder, Audio Files for this project are no longer stored in my Documents directory and instead are being stored in the B/U folder?

Is that correct? Is there something I need to do for this to work the way I might have assumed: That the working files are ALWAYS in the appropriate folder in Documents and by B/U files are always and only duplicates of those files and never the working versions?

Just saving the project under a different name in another folder is not a backup (that is just saving a different version of the project), because all audio files are still just references to the old project folder (you can see that if you look at the paths in the pool).

Cubase has a proper “backup project” function:

But in case you import any audio and didn’t copy it to the audio projects folder, you need to use the “prepare Archive” function:

Also it has to be said, if you just do the backups on your local hard drive, that also does not count as a proper backup. You have to at least put them on an external USB drive.
Windows has an included backup functionality which can back all your personal data (documents etc) to that external drive. I would recommend checking that:

Thanks for the quick and detailed response. To clarify:

  • I don’t simply save the working file to another directory, I do use Cubase’s “Back Up Project” function and assumed this created a complete copy of all of a project’s files and doesn’t become a working copy from that point forward.
  • I need to better explore and understand the Preparing Archives function though this is something I would have assumed was inherent and automatic with the Back Up Project process.
  • I do back up to an external HD so these files aren’t truly 100% lost but they are old enough that so much work was done on these projects since that I can’t imagine repeating all of that time and effort.

The “prepare archive” and “backup project” is usually used before transferring a project e.g. to someone else or another computer. See the manual.
You can use it as some kind of backup, but of course you duplicate all your audio files. Not a problem with today’s disk sizes usually, though.

What I do:
If I just want a different version of your project file, to save an intermediate state e.g. before doing major changes, I use the “save new version” function, Cubase then saves a new project file in the current project folder with a number appended to it.

I also have autosave configured, in case I forget to save manually and something crashes.

(caveat: the autosave function only can run if playback is stopped).

The real backup I do not do with Cubase, but with backup software:

  • regular image backup of my boot drive with Veeam to en external disk
  • regular backup of my files with Windows backup to another disk
  • regular backup to a NAS (well, a Raspberry with an USB disk …).
  • not so regular backup to the “Cloud” (well, just a server that I have)

Not in front of Nuendo right now but I believe there is an option to “keep” “current” either the backup copy or the source project. If you accidentally choose the backup project to be the current ‘location’ then I think even if you open from your original location (Documents?) new files go into the new location.

I never could get my head around the logic of backup/archive in Cubase, so I’ve continued to do what I used to do back in the dark ages - copy the whole project folder to another physical disk, preferably external. I started doing this with floppies in the early 90s, now I do it with USB hard drives. It doesn’t take long.

Also, a really true backup is one that is off-site. God forbid your house/studio/shed should burn down, but if it did, your backups will go up in the same smoke as the originals. (Eek!)

That’s not really the problem though. The problem is that even if you do that only one folder is the ‘current’ folder so any recording you make should go into that one. If you accidentally continue on the project from the “wrong” folder, even if it seems “right” to you as a user, you’ll end up with files in the wrong location - if I understand it correctly.

Yeah I think a good strategy these days is to have automated backups running both locally to a large, slow, energy efficient hard drive as well as to the cloud. It costs a little bit more but then you no longer have to worry.

In my specific case, the external drive is actually one of a set of internal drives sitting in a hard drive caddy plugged into a USB port. The power is only on when I actually backup or want to retrieve a previous backup. If you use the recent files menu in Cubase, as I do, it’s, impossible to use the wrong folder, since the backup has never been opened in Cubase, and the backup drive is never visible to the file selector.

Sure, I just wish there was a better implementation of all of this by Steinberg. I really think that we A) should be able to see the active path easily to verify it’s correct, and B) we should be able to easily reset it to a different path if it’s wrong.

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