Can someone please explain external hard drives?
JustinDragan
Thread Starter
#1
22nd March 2011
Old 22nd March 2011
  #1
Gear interested
 

Thread Starter
Can someone please explain external hard drives?

Hello guys, i was wondering if anyone could explain to me how external hard drives should be used to increase computer performance and track count. I've read the similar threads (please don't bash and tell me to go look it up, cause i have).....but

Since I'm gonna be buying the external this weekend (glyph) i just want to make sure exactly how it works and that i'm doing it right to get the best performance out of my system.

( Tri-core 2.10 ghz PC Running Vista ) My daw is Ableton Live 8.

I'd really appreciate it if someone was kind enough to explain how to set up my audio samples (one shots, loops, vox and so on ) and vst instruments ( I use lots of softsynths ) so that i can get the best out of my PC.

Thanks you guys for any suggestions.
#2
22nd March 2011
Old 22nd March 2011
  #2
Lives for gear
 
tha]-[acksaw's Avatar
 

Make sure you are using firewire drives, because I don't believe USB will be fast enough for massive audio file sharing. Maybe for small stuff, but not large sessions. Make sure ur drives are minimum 7200 RPM. And make sure your firewire card in ur computer has a chipset that's supported by ur DAW. Texas Instruments is a very commonly supported chipset. That should be a starting point for getting ur hardrive to function at its best.

Aside from that, hardrives will have an effect on ur performance in a few ways. They will never make ur computer faster then ur CPU or RAM make it, but they allow those two thing to function at their best.

Ur best keeping all ur audio for each session on one hardrive. Don't have half ur audio for a session on one drive, and half on another. If u use samples that u drag and drop into a session, these are better kept on a separate drive then ur audio drive. And if ur using VIs that require sample library's to create the audio, have yet another for this purpose. So there are three total needs for separate hardrives. How many, and for what for purpose, is up to you.

Contrary to popular belief, defraging ur hard drive is not the best way to keep it running clean. Defraging will only consolidate based on how the hardrive is currently organized. The most efficient way for any session to run is by grabbing the audio files from banks inside ur drive that are closest together. For instance, if u record in session A on Monday, and then session B on Tuesday, then on Wednesday u go back to session A, ur audio is now scattered around ur hardrive. Session A files might be on hardrive banks 1 thru 10 from Mondays session, then session B will take up hardrive banks 11 thru 20, from Tuesday. Then more session A audio was recorded on Wednesday and those are sitting in hardrive banks 21 thru 30. So, now u have audio from session A in hardrive banks 1 thru 10 and 21 thru 30. With a big gap in banks 11 thru 20. The hardrive arm now has to skip back and forth to get the audio for only that session. The further away the files are from each other, the worse ur hardrive performance gets.

So, instead of defraging, copy ur whole audio hardrive to another backup hardrive. Delete everything from the original, then copy back. This will order everything based on individual sessions, and the audio will no longer be scattered. I do this maybe once a year. Usually helps out quite a bit.

Hope that helps a little.

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#3
22nd March 2011
Old 22nd March 2011
  #3
Gear maniac
 
thejwoshow's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by tha]-[acksaw View Post
Make sure you are using firewire drives, because I don't believe USB will be fast enough for massive audio file sharing. Maybe for small stuff, but not large sessions. Make sure ur drives are minimum 7200 RPM. And make sure your firewire card in ur computer has a chipset that's supported by ur DAW. Texas Instruments is a very commonly supported chipset. That should be a starting point for getting ur hardrive to function at its best.

Aside from that, hardrives will have an effect on ur performance in a few ways. They will never make ur computer faster then ur CPU or RAM make it, but they allow those two thing to function at their best.

Ur best keeping all ur audio for each session on one hardrive. Don't have half ur audio for a session on one drive, and half on another. If u use samples that u drag and drop into a session, these are better kept on a seperate drive then ur audio drive. And if ur using VIs that require sample librarys to create the audio, have yet another for this purpose. So there are three total needs for seperate hardrives. How many, and for what for purpose, is up to you.

Contrary to popular belief, defraging ur hard drive is not the best way to keep it running clean. Defraging will only consolidate based on how the hardrive is currently organized. The most efficient way for any session to run is by grabing the audio files from banks inside ur drive that are closest together. For instance, if u record in session A on Monday, and then session B on Tuesday, then on Wednesday u go back to session A, ur audio is now scattered around ur hardrive. Session A files might be on hardrive banks 1 thru 10 from Mondays session, then session B will take up hardrive banks 11 thru 20, from Tuesday. Then more session A audio was recorded on Wednesday and those are sitting in hardrive banks 21 thru 30. So, now u have audio from session A in hardrive banks 1 thru 10 and 21 thru 30. With a big gap in banks 11 thru 20. The hardrive arm now has to skip back and forth to get the audio for only that session. The further away the files are from eachother, the worse ur hardrive performance gets.

So, instead of defraging, copy ur whole audio hardrive to another backup hardrive. Delete everything from the origional, then copy back. This will order everything based on individual sessions, and the audio will no longer be scattered. I do this maybe once a year. Usually helps out quite a bit.

Hope that helps a little.

Sent from my Droid using Gearslutz.com App
+1 on all of that,good tips there! It basically just free's up your internal (system) drive for data processing tasks,rather than audio file processing.
JustinDragan
Thread Starter
#4
22nd March 2011
Old 22nd March 2011
  #4
Gear interested
 

Thread Starter
Hey guys, thanks for the replies i really appreciate you taking to the time to explain that.

So basically even though most of what i do is in the box with Ableton Live and my (alot of) samples / vst instruments. It would still help a lot if i put all my samples ( drum samples/ one shots and so on ) on an external drive.

Would this improve the amount of audio / tracks that I'm able to run without problems within my daw? Would it help with keeping CPU down at all or is that a whole other problem.

I guess my question is ..... lets say i have two tracks.

1) = Drum Rack ( think battery if you don't have Ableton ) with multiple samples running. Kick drum and some hi hats and maybe some layered snares.

2) = A midi track ( vst synth like NI Massive or Rob P Albino ).

Would it keep my CPU down if those samples in drum rack ( or battery) are on an external?
#5
22nd March 2011
Old 22nd March 2011
  #5
Lives for gear
 
tha]-[acksaw's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by JustinDragan View Post
Hey guys, thanks for the replies i really appreciate you taking to the time to explain that.

So basically even though most of what i do is in the box with Ableton Live and my (alot of) samples / vst instruments. It would still help a lot if i put all my samples ( drum samples/ one shots and so on ) on an external drive.

Would this improve the amount of audio / tracks that I'm able to run without problems within my daw? Would it help with keeping CPU down at all or is that a whole other problem.

I guess my question is ..... lets say i have two tracks.

1) = Drum Rack ( think battery if you don't have Ableton ) with multiple samples running. Kick drum and some hi hats and maybe some layered snares.

2) = A midi track ( vst synth like NI Massive or Rob P Albino ).

Would it keep my CPU down if those samples in drum rack ( or battery) are on an external?
Keep drag and drop audio samples on one hard drive, and keep your VI audio library's on another, and keep recorded audio in a third. That's the best way to prevent your CPU from taking on extra duties. I won't be able to say how much of a difference it will make, cause there are too many factors involved.

If ur having CPU problems when running two VI's, its probably time for an upgrade. If that was just a "for instance", my bad. It just came across like only using 2 VIs was giving you some trouble.

VI's should mostly use RAM, not CPU. If your getting CPU errors with VI's, I doubt your hard drive is the problem, although if your computer is not powerful, I guess I could see that being a problem. If you are having VI trouble, maybe try getting more RAM. Keep in mind, if your OS is 32 bit (not 64 bit), you won't be able to use more then 4 GB of RAM anyway, so don't bother getting more then that. If you have 64bit, go NUTZ!

I run a 2.8 GHz Quad Core, with 4 GB of RAM. I can run VI's all day long with no problems at all. I've had BFD going, with 4 or 5 soft synths before getting any problems. At a point, your just gonna have to start committing your VI's to audio, just to help with performance.

Hope that helps a little.
#6
22nd March 2011
Old 22nd March 2011
  #6
Lives for gear
 
Andy Hamm's Avatar
 

If you want an external drive, get a SATA external drive, it is the same bus that the internal drives use (unless you have an older IDE computer).
Just make sure your PC has an external SATA connector on it.

The advantages to having multiple disks is having multiple spindles. It doesn't really decrease your processor usage because disk access is much slower than your processor is. More spindles equates to faster access, even if the disks are not in a RAID array (provided you are utilizing both disks, of course).

If it is speed that you are looking for, look at Solid State Drives. They are much smaller than current mechanical hard drives (64GB @ ~ $120), but they are much faster. You can either put your OS on it and your current project files you are working on and use your larger mechanical disk for storage, or just add one and use it for what ever project you are currently working on. I would recomend putting your Windows swap file on it in any case.

I've worked in the computer industry for over 15 years, and the solid state disk has been the single biggest overall performance boost for a PC that I have seen thus far. It is a noticable difference.
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