Skip to content Skip to footer

Reply: You need a versioning system

A quick reply to the excellent post by Jamie Hill about the need of a strict versioning system for people who work in music (on the computer).

Simone Silvestroni's avatar

Jamie argues for a backup system, and rightly so. Although his post outlines the exact same manual, effective, simple methodology I’d been using for many years, I felt compelled to write down a reply with my current procedure. Disclaimer: while Jamie uses Pro Tools, his way can be indeed applied to every DAW, while mine is exclusively related to REAPER. Two years after my switch from Pro Tools, I keep finding improvements to my workflow, and this is one of them. What I’m currently doing to save multiple progressive versions of my work:

  • I hit ⌘ S (⌃ S on Windows and Linux).

That’s it. Under the hood, REAPER is saving a new version of the project, adding an automatic increment number to the filename. REAPER’s actions panel is where the magic happens:


All I had to do was finding the correct action (or build a custom one if nobody thought of it), and add the shortcut usually associated to saving a project. I’m de facto hijacking the “save” command here. The result is that every time a session is saved, the project changes its filename, while the previous one stays in the same folder as a backup. Granted, I can end up with a large number of files, but that’s fine: they don’t weigh much, plus I take care of moving the versions to my backup sub-folder at the end of a work day.

If this is not ideal, a good alternative is the technique I’d been using until a few months ago: REAPER’s automatic backup system. It’s in the preferences:


The pros of this second method are clear: the software takes care of both the versioning and moving the backups in a sub-folder. Why did I switch? Because I want to determine the point of a new version when I save the session, which is when a substantial change that needs preserving has happened. A method based on x minutes doesn’t mean much to me.

Related topics