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SSD recommendations for portable install / sample? Virtual Instrument Plugins
Old 6 days ago
Lives for gear
Stevism's Avatar
SSD recommendations for portable install / sample?

So I’m toying around with the idea of moving everything related to my DAW (vsts, samples, Reaper and everything that goes with that (recordings, renders, templates, etc) to an extenal SSD.

It would be connected via USB.

Mostly use outboard gear so this would be for basic audio recording and midi routing up until the mixing stage.

Questions are:

Any problems to lookout for?
SSD over USB ok?
Good minimum size? Was thinking 250 or 500 gb
Most importantly:
Specific model / brand recommendations?

I’m running Reaper on Windows 10 on a 3 year old Lenovo thinkpad t450

Thank you!!
Old 6 days ago
Gear Nut

I am using G drive 2tb Usb C. Works great and no problem so far.
Using it for Samples, Plugin Data and Project Files.

G-Technology 2 TB G-DRIVE Mobile SSD R-Series Ruggedized, Portable Solid State Storage: Computers & Accessories
Old 6 days ago
Lives for gear
Stevism's Avatar
Awesome thank you! I will probably get the 500 gb version!
Old 6 days ago
Gear Nut

Alright, this is probably way more information than you're looking for and probably not entirely on topic, but:

-You're on Windows, so when you first get your hard drive and you format and name it, make sure its drive assignment letter is permanently set to a letter that's further up the alphabet.
-In my experience in doing this with a Western Digital SSD (blue SATA drive in an external USB-3 chassis/case) over USB-3 and USB-2, things run as well as they did from the cpu's internal drive, though I've yet to try simultaneously recording a particularly high track count at a high sample rate with this exact setup.
-Get a bigger external drive than you think you'll need - twice what you think you'll need. Really. Please. You'll thank me.
-Uninstall and reinstall everything you're moving from your computer's HD to the external HD. Every thing.


About 6-8 months ago I decided to see if I could create a hard drive that had my everything on it: all my plugins, all my samples, a DAW - everything - that I would be able to plug into any computer, Mac or PC, and get it up and running in hopefully <5 minutes, 30 minutes max. This is using Reaper, so a portable DAW install is the easy part.

The very tricky thing with this idea (which probably won't be a factor for you) is plugin licensing - I've had to abandon a bunch of plugins that I used to use because they tie their license to the computer they're licensed to and not the hard drive, so those plugins wouldn't be mobile. It thinned my plugins out, probably cut the number in half, and it acts as a great deterrent from buying a lot of new software I obviously don't need because I'm doing just fine without it.

So now I'm left with plugins for which you can 'make your own dongle' (e.g. Plugin Alliance), plugins that have a license tied to a file that you can move around (e.g. Slate), plugins that are made by awesome companies that pretty much just trust you to be a good person (e.g. Applied Acoustics), and iLok plugins. (Side note: I don't understand why everyone hates iLok so much. Aside from with some iZotope products I haven't had any issues with the iLok, and the issues were definitely iZotope's fault. At least a half dozen other companies have been absolutely fine.)

I have two versions of this idea currently in operation: the "mini-DAW", a 64gig thumb drive with Reaper and a small handful of nice plugins that I can plug into any Mac or PC and have it up and running as fast as it takes to open a file from a flash drive; and the bigger hard drive with *everything* on it. Lately I've had the "mini-DAW" working perfectly, cross-platform, on at least 10 different computers. The bigger hard drive isn't entirely cross-platform ready yet, but it's about 85% there.

Three things in no particular order:
1) When you install your plugins, you're installing a lot of stuff you're not aware of. Nothing insidious, but I've moved the hard drive from one computer to another and seen some variation of "can't find startup file in /Users/Shared/Documents/Plugin Company/Inexplicably Obscurely Named Folder/" many, many times. Even if you uninstall all your plugins and reinstall all of them, with the target install folders all on your external hard drive, it might be squirreling some crucial little file somewhere it isn't telling you about. This is much, much worse on Macs - it's usually pretty easy to control in Windows. Usually.
2) For Windows, when you're first formatting your drive before you've started putting anything on it: permanently define the letter designation of the drive. Make it a letter that's later in the alphabet to avoid confusion. I made mine "w", I think, and my flash drive "p". If you don't define it permanently, your computer might read it is "D" one day and "F" the next, and then *all* your folder pathways are wrong and nothing will work.
3) The drive: I'm using an SSD, a Western Digital one that's supposed to be optimized for long life/constant usage. It's blue, it's a SATA drive in a USB-3 case, it has good reviews. Whatever, it's a name brand with a decent reputation that I've had very good luck with in the past. Get a big one, twice as big as you think you'll need - if you take away one thing from this rambling nonsense, please let it be that. I've run it over USB-3 and USB-2 without any issues, usually recording audio to a different external hard drive running USB-3 or 2. This isn't with an orchestras' worth of samples running and I don't think I've had this particular setup simultaneously recording over 16 tracks (24bit/48k) but I've had no hiccups so far. (If you think about it, recording to a separate external hard drive in this context isn't really different from recording to a separate external hard drive when your DAW is on your computer. Unless I'm personally very much not understanding exactly what's going on here computationally, which is possible.)

Given that what you're doing doesn't seem super-complicated in the digital realm, I can't see why you wouldn't be totally fine once you get everything installed and licensed. I'd suggest uninstalling everything you're going to have on the external drive and then reinstalling it on the drive; don't drag things over. It's tempting, but don't do it. Also, if you're able: create a brand new, squeaky clean user profile on the computer to do all this installing from, and if you use the computer for anything other than recording, I'd suggest recording with that new user and no other user, and use that user for no purpose other than recording. Maybe just use the new user anyway, even if you don't use the computer for anything other than recording.

Gah. So hopefully that was helpful somewhere.
Old 6 days ago
Lives for gear
Stevism's Avatar
WOW thank you so much!! That’s basically exactly what I want to accomplish!!! Will definitely be referencing this thread as I move forward. My plugins are very limited: Valhalla stuff, some plogue, tal-sampler, and poise. Honestly I get a lot of mileage out of the included utilities, but then again I’m just doing this all for fun.

Will definitely do this from a new user login, that seems like a great idea.

Love that the thumb drive idea works. That’s actually something I’d like too. My goals are 1) music setup that is PC (well Windows 10 relatively etc) agnostic in case of device death or upgrade 2) easy file hierarchy for mirroring to another drive 3) thumb drive to bring to work on the rare occasions I help with special projects (sometimes help with training videos)

Thank you again!!
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