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Andreas
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[sorry for this lengthy post…]

Lets dive down into the filesystem to clarify your questions: The used FAT32 filesystem is rather simple (i.e. more deterministic than, for example, NTFS but way less reliable…). It basically consists of equal sized buckets (called Clusters) which finally contain your data. A freshly formatted drive obviously only contains many many empty buckets in a row, each one has a unique number.
If a file is written to the drive, the first empty bucket is filled with your data. If the file does not fit into a single bucket, the next empty one is picked etc.
To retrieve your data later (reading the file), the system keeps track of the first bucket number in the file directory (along with modification time etc.). If the file does not fit into a single bucket, the File Allocation Table (=FAT) is queried. This is a simple table with one entry per existing bucket containing the number of the successor bucket, if any. Some sort of linked list.

Ok, back to the questions. If files are copied to a freshly formatted drive, you can be somewhat certain that the buckets used are strictly in order. If a bunch of stereo WAVs is copied to that drive (i.e. Preshow files), these will occupy a more or less large section of your drive. As long a the operating system writing these files does not try to be clever (i.e. preserve some space between files in case they may receive additional data in the future), the drive is still fine for multitrack recording.

If you later decide to delete some of these files several buckets of that section get empty again and will be re-used for the next file written. If that file is larger, it will be “fragmented”, meaning the beginning is written into the freshly emptied buckets and the remainder somewhere else. This shouldn’t be an issue for preshow playback but may lead to errors during multitrack recording (seeking, FAT updates).

So major golden rule: Only write files to such a drive, do not delete individual files or folders!

Recording multiple multitrack sessions in a row is not a problem.

But, yes, if you’re done with recording(s) after a show and transferred the files to your PC, the drive should be formatted to get back the space. Of course you also loose your preshow files in this step, so it is up to you to decide to either use a separate disk or a different source for preshow music.

Arming and finalizing a multitrack recording takes a lengthy second. Not sure if you can hold the band offstage long enough for the QuDrive gets ready after stopping the music…