Starting a podcast may seem like a breeze, but maintaining it can be a daunting task!
Most podcasts unfortunately don’t survive past their 7th episode. I don’t have an exact explanation, but from my experience, maintaining a podcast and staying organised to deliver top-notch content to your listeners can be quite challenging.
I quickly realised, around episode 20, the multitude of files I was producing: audio, images, logic pro, and so on. These were not only eating up my storage space but also cluttering my drives, making it difficult to locate specific files easily.
An Improved Method
By the time I reached Season 2, I had mastered the art of organising my files and maintaining minimal file sizes. An episodic folder layout turned out to be a lifesaver. It drastically simplified my search for specific content.
Podcast > Season 2 > 001 > Logic > Bounces > 001.alac
Podcast > Season 2 > 001 > Images > Logo.jpg
Previously, I used to place all end files like images or bounces in separate folders and had to name each file with its episode number. What a nightmare! This new episodic method makes things exceedingly simple and is how I plan to store all my data going forward!
Conserving Valuable Space
Technology has come a long way, and now it’s possible to save significant storage space for past and future episodes. Here’s how:
Choice of File Format
Most people export into two primary file formats, WAV and MP3. WAV yields lossless but significantly large files, and MP3 generates smaller but noticeably lossy audio files.
My go-to approach is exporting my podcast from Logic Pro into ALAC (Apple Lossless). For Windows users, FLAC is a suitable alternative. The advantage of these formats is their lossless compression algorithm, which offers the same quality as WAV but with approximately 50% less file size.
A quick tip: FLAC doesn’t seem to playback correctly on MacOS. ALAC works flawlessly. So, if you’re a Mac user and aren’t uploading lossless files for listeners, consider using ALAC.
Transcoding for Delivery
From this point, you can output to any format you like. Personally, I prefer 128Kbps AAC as it provides much better sound quality than MP3 at the same bitrate. Most podcast platforms like Acast support AAC, and almost all devices except extremely old phones can handle AAC with ease. After uploading, you can delete the AAC file since you already have the ALAC file as a master copy.
Managing Old Files
For older files, you can use a tool like XLD to bulk convert them to a more storage-friendly format. However, always ensure to test this process before allowing it to delete the old WAV files. If your old files are already in MP3 format, consider re-encoding them in AAC or another more efficient codec, but be aware of the potential for quality loss in this process.
Taking It Up a Notch
My background in IT and Programming has equipped me with skills that I’ve brought into my podcasting backend, especially with data storage and backup strategies. Here are some tips to optimize your podcast storage and prevent any data loss:
Setting Up A Local Storage System
I store all my files on a Truenas server, a free and open-source network-attached storage system. This might sound technical, but it’s actually something you can set up yourself with a bit of patience and an old computer. Here’s a rough step-by-step process:
- Prepare your hardware: Repurpose an old computer, ideally with a large hard drive and a decent amount of RAM. Your old laptop or desktop could work just fine.
- Install Truenas: Follow the instructions on the Truenas website to install their software on your repurposed computer. This will effectively turn it into a dedicated storage server.
- Create a storage pool: Once Truenas is installed, you’ll need to set up a “pool” of storage, which is essentially a designated portion of your hard drive that can be accessed as network storage.
- Set up network access: Once your pool is created, you can set up network access so that you can easily transfer files to and from your new server, just as if it was an external hard drive connected directly to your main computer.
Taking Advantage of Compression
With ZFS compression on Truenas using the Zstd algorithm, I get an additional 20% space saving. ZFS is a built-in feature of Truenas and is a type of file system that includes built-in compression and deduplication.
If you have sufficient RAM, you can even utilize deduplication to conserve even more space. Deduplication is a feature that eliminates redundant data, saving you even more storage space. However, it is memory-intensive, so ensure your server has enough RAM to handle this feature if you choose to enable it.
Creating Offsite Backups
As a safety measure, it’s wise to double encrypt your files and sync them offsite. For this, I use Backblaze, a cloud storage service known for its affordability and simplicity. With Backblaze, my data remains secure and retrievable even if something disastrous happens to my local storage, like a hardware failure or physical damage to the computer.
Remember, the key to data security is redundancy: having your data in more than one place ensures you’ll never lose everything in the event of a mishap.
By adopting these practices, you can create a robust and secure storage solution for your podcasting needs. This might seem like a lot of work, but the peace of mind it provides is well worth the effort.
If you’re embarking on your podcasting journey or maintaining an existing one, stay organised with an episodic file structure and compress your files to the maximum extent possible to conserve storage space!