Setting Up Your Premiere Pro Auto Save

What do they say about letting sleeping dogs lie?

Last week I wrote a post about my back-up and archiving system, and within days I had a major crash that caused me to loose an entire day of work.

Okay, it had nothing to do with my backup and archiving system per-se – I didn’t lose any data or assets, no drives went down – but it did speak to a chink in my workflow that I needed to address. Since many of my recent posts cover what I am learning about Premiere Pro after having switched from Final Cut Pro a few months back – learning as I go, I might add – I figured my last post required this follow-up.

We are going to look at how to change your Auto Save settings in Premier Pro CS6, since it was this part of the application that got me into trouble. Before I tell you what happened, let me first set the context by pointing to Adobe’s recommendations regarding Premiere Pro’s Auto Save settings:

Premiere Pro will only execute an auto save when there are unsaved changes in the currently opened project. This also applies when the program is in the background or minimized. The potential consequence for leaving a project open with unsaved changes for a long enough period of time is that eventually all of the auto save versions will become identical, wiping out potentially useful versions to roll back to. Adjust this preference according to your workflow or close Premiere Pro when you will be working on other applications for an extended period of time.

Here’s what happened: I was working on a fairly sizable project (tons of footage for several short videos, so the project had about 12 sequences). There was a lot of After Effects involved, and I was using Dynamic Link and jumping back and forth between applications. After working most of the day without incident, I jumped back on to After Effects and spent a couple hours working on a title sequence.

While I was doing that, Premiere Pro was open in the background. I had my Auto Save folder set to my Dropbox, which is what alerted me to the problem. At some point a Dropbox pop-up reared its head to tell me my Dropbox is nearly full. Impossible, I said to myself – I have about 6GB in space and it was only about a quarter full last time I checked. But it was true, I had topped my 6GBs and the application had stopped syncing.

Concerned, I went in and clicked through the folders to see what was eating up all my space. The last place I looked was the "Projects" folder where I keep all my PPr and AE projects. It was 5GB in size. I narrowed it down to the folder my current work project was in. The project file was 1GB in size. What? Even my largest projects never exceed 100MB. Clearly, something strange was going on here.

I clicked to bring up my Premiere Pro project from the background and got the dreaded spinning wheel. Crash. I tried to open the project and no dice. No problem, I had the Auto Save files. You should know where this is going by now. Since the Auto Save was set to save every 20 minutes and only save a max of 5 - and since the project had been sitting for a couple hours – all the saves were identical to the 1GB main project file that would not open. Seems whatever happened to my project (jury is still out on what) to make it 1GB in size had happened a couple hours before and I didn’t notice until the Dropbox was almost full with all those 1GB Auto Saves. I usually save dated versions of my projects so I do have something to go back to, but usually at the end of the day. So I did have a saved version from the previous days work, but everything I had done that day was gone. Ouch.

Lesson learned. Here is what I'm doing in order to mitigate any chance of something like this happening in the future.

Update Your Adobe CS6 Applications

What may have happened that made the Premiere Pro project grow in size is still a bit of a mystery. Searches on various forums have turned up similar instances, but only when 3rd party filters such as Magic Bullet have been applied to clips. My project was just straight cutting at that point. I have chalked it up to a bug in the application which has hopefully been taken care of in the update I did across all my Adobe CS6 applications via the Application Manager. If you are using the Creative Cloud subscription, I suggest you do this right away. Updates are not prompted or automatic - you need to actually open the application manager. When you open it, it should list all the updates for you. Take the time to update them all.

Customize Your Auto Save Settings

The next step is to customize your Auto Save settings. With Premiere Pro open, go to "Premiere Pro > Preferences > Auto Save..."

Auto Save Menu

This will open up the Auto Save Dialogue box. The defaults are set to save your project every 20 minutes up to a maximum of 5 copies of your project. That will take you back 2 hrs. I set mine to save every 15 minutes up to a maximum of 12 versions. This gives you more frequency and saves back 3 hrs. The projects are fairly small so space should not be an issue. If you have the space, knock yourself out and save more versions.

Auto Save Menu

I am also going to start saving dated versions of my working project twice daily moving forward.

In 9 years as a professional editor, this is the first time anything like this has ever happened to me. Switching to a new application and not covering all my bases was part of the problem, so I am hesitant to blame Adobe. I will continue to keep an eye on things and see if this bug appears again. If any of you have any experiences similar to this, please feel free to share them in the comments below.