New PC advice

Hi,
I’ve just got a new dedicated DAW PC (going to be delivered on Friday), and Im going to keep my existing laptop for all my general computing needs.

I’ve just got a few questions:

  1. Back Up.
    How do I take a back up copy of the system when it arrives, in case I ever need to get the system back to it’s original state?

  2. Internet
    What do people think about connecting to the internet of a PC im going to keep as a dedicated DAW machine? Ive read some people saying they don’t ever go on the internet on their DAW machine… if you don’t how would you update programms or download and install new programs etc you might want.

  3. Anti Virus
    What anti-virus would people recommend? again I;ve read some people saying don’t put any anti virus software on.

Thanks in advance for advice

I am not a professional producer, but I do have a music only computer. With regards to your 3 questions I can say something about my setup.

  1. Back-up
    I back-up my computer and projects on an external drive and alternate that with an other external drive.I also let windows make a back-up to a network drive

  2. Internet
    I use my music computer for music only. It can access the internet through a proxy-server (raspberry pi running squid3 + squidGuard). Furthermore I only use Firefox as my webbrowser running with NoScript application. The Firefox + Noscript application protects you from most exploitations. My router, an asus, runs on modified merlin firmware with adblocker. The router also runs an tor instance, so all my internet trafic runs throught the tor network making sure I stay anonymous.

  3. Anti Virus
    I use the standard anti virus that ships with windows 8. But the Firefox + NoScript combo, as described in step 2, almost guarantees you hasle free surfing. I only surf the web on my DAW computer to steinberg, kvraudio, and my plugin providers.

Being connected to the internet is generally not the issue. It is what the OS, programs or you are doing on it that counts.

Basically disable/turn off automatic checking for updates for the OS or programs. Instead, choose a non-critical time to manually check for updates and do the associated downloads and installation.

Only surf to the official sites for your programs. Definitely don’t have any email checking programs, as they tend to do their internet stuff in bursts, and often enough that they are likely to disrupt a recording/mixing session.

As for anti-virus, I use Windows Defender, which on Win8.x includes AV. On Win 7, I used MS security Essentials, which is basically what is now in Defender. They generally have low system impact.

There are two levels of backups:
a) System, which does images of the OS and system drives.
b) Data.

The latter, though the system backup could be used for that, is more flexible for retrieval if it is done file for file, rather than by whole disk/partitiion image.

Note that not all file-by-file programs actually copy all files. Some free ones like mirror and SyncToy seems to forget to copy some files, and they don’t let you know. I use SyncBack Free, which I have verified does all files. Note that generally file-by-file programs don’t handle super long filenames or paths (the OS cannot copy them), nor files in use, so only run them off-peak.

As for system backups, while the OS’s system backup utility can do automatic backups, retrieving them reliably is not a given, and especially bad if you somehow need to restore to a partition that is smaller than the image made.

Win 8.x has basically deprecated the system backup, and I found it more finicky about what it will restore to. I now use AOMEI Backupper, which is free, but importantly allows resizing of backup file to fit smaller restoration targets. Their free partition manager has also been a life saver, especially when I needed to fix up a troublesome restore from a Win system backup.