One drive, clean install of everything at latest version. Clone it, put one copy away. These are where I begin every project. A nice clean system drive with everything required.
When I get a client, I remove the stuff he doesn’t have licenses for, or doesn’t want to buy, and keep my work within’ those boundaries unless he wants to buy it too.
Work on the project until done or need to do something for a different client.
Clone it again to a less expensive backup media. Pull the drives. Box them.
If project is done, get client to run a system report that tells me what drivers they need. I check that what he needs are in the driver store. Deliver his drive and the backup. He plugs in his dongle(s) and his drive, registers the OS as ‘the copy’ he is entitled to use on that machine. Picks up where I left off, only needing to reassign some things for whatever audio/midi devices are different from mine, otherwise, same versions, etc.
Client also has the ‘option’ of importing the project from that drive to his current set-up if he’d rather, but if he makes that choice, he’s on his own. I can help if he calls to some degree, but there are far more limits on what I can do for him from there if he has ‘issues’ or wants more help. If he goes off my full system copy, he can call me on the phone or whatever, and we’re both looking at the same (or very close) stuff!
Meanwhile, I’m off working on different projects on different drives.
Say it’s one of my own projects…not for a client. Even so, it’s nice to be able to just plug in a drive and a dongle, be it tomorrow, or 6 years from now, and pick up exactly where I left off. All I need is a machine that is supported by the OS and make sure the driver store has the right drivers to get it working.
Then there’s the whole backup-system concept. Can maintain more than one, and swapping only requires moving a dongle.
Other deployment situations I won’t go into here. Never mind unions, tech-writer requirements, and other red tape. I’ll just say a short version. It’s really nice when you can call ahead and they say, “Oh, you don’t need to bring that 12 rack crate with you. Just send us your drive prepped by these specs, by X time/date, our security people will check it out, and unless we call back and report a problem…when you get here, the console and everything connected to it will be ready to go for you! It’ll be pretty much exactly like it was when you left off! You won’t have clutter installed, you’ll know where all the files live, etc.”
In a university lab…each student can have their own drive. Pull it and go. Come back to the lab later, plug into a different machine (same or similar build), it works. Will that still work with the new system? If so, do all the machines have to be online every time a student sits down and plugs in a different drive?
While its true that ‘office software’, and maybe even Scoring software has small enough files that don’t need a lot of streaming power. They could realistically run from virtual machines served up, student files kept on a cloud or LAN, etc. For big multi-media projects…no way, that 1,200 track project, with all the A/V streams and such is going run from the cloud…probably not from a LAN either (if it does, it’ll be one hell of a ‘very expensive’ LAN). So…each student gets a drive…that’s their baby. They share workstations and other hardware by simply plugging it in and booting a couple times (and base dongles are locked in the case). Since these workstations aren’t online, aren’t using a continuous NAS or anything…student can also put their ‘own junk’ on their ‘baby drive’ and bring their own dongles for that stuff if necessary. They don’t have to jump through a million and seven sysop hoops to do so. If one student screws up, it’s just his or her drive…not the whole bloody department’s problem.
Under a ‘cloud based’ system, as I understand them, this will no longer be the case.
Will have to free up the keys before pulling the drives. That means the original DAW has to be online, exposed to the world pretty much all the time. Or at least a few times a week. (ransomware hacks are becoming more common in music studios! The exploits get in from drop boxes, people using the machines to browse the web, etc. Sometimes from plugging in bad/unchecked devices with boot sectors onboard…should always check bootable media and stuff on a fire-walled or throw away system before inserting it into the studio workflow, but most often, the ransomware hacks come from…THE INTERNET)
Target system will have to go online, log into accounts, download and install the ‘latest’ version of whatever does the licensing, register stuff, etc, etc, etc.
Several extra steps, requiring networking hardware, internet access, and accounts. Less freedom. More information exchanged over the cloud. Now also REQUIRES a network card of some sort in the target machine (and those being enabled are notoriously bad for a DAW unless specially selected and tuned…poor drivers lead to wait-states and such can wreak havoc on latency, thread management, and more).