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Number of Hard Drives for Music Production DAW Software
Old 27th December 2009
Gear interested

Thread Starter
Number of Hard Drives for Music Production

Hello Forum,

I have a Mac Pro Dual 2.8, 10G's RAM, Digital Performer 7, Reason 4, bunch of soft synths, sound library of 50G's. I received 2 WD Caviar Black 750 G's hard drives and the WD 320 that came with the Mac. How should I set up these drives, i.e. 1st drive - System and Apps drive, 2 - Sound library drive, etc. Is it true that I shouldn't partition the drives? Also, what is meant when someone says "record to another drive". Can you please provide me with full and detailed scenarios of how I should and could set up these drives. Also, purchasing HD's is not a problem so if more HD's are needed, please advise.

Thanks in advance,
PlayItByEar Music
Old 27th December 2009
Lives for gear
R3altruth's Avatar

drive 1 - OS/Apps
Drive 2 - VST's and their libraries
Drive 3 - All your recorded audio and projects from your DAW

You can partition the drives... It is just pointless in a multi drive setup
Some people do it so if they have to reinstall their OS they don't have to touch DATA....

Recording to another drive just means the OS shouldn't share the same drive as your recorded audio files and DAW projects...
Its very logical really
You get theoretically 375 megabytes of data transfer per second (The max for SATA II) per drive
Your OS process' and audio on the same drive have 375 to split between them
If you have them on 2 separate drives then your OS has 375 GB of bandwidth per second and your audio has it's own 375GB
Old 28th December 2009
matt thomas's Avatar
In my Mac Pro I use

1> system drive
2> samples drive
3> Audio
4> Audio
External> Backup

I found having one HDD for audio didn't cut it, even a fast one (Raptor), in PT at higher sample rates.

Look at digidesigns site, they have a page on what systems they guarantee what performance with. From memory, a single drive they say you should get 32 tracks of 96k audio (this is what they claim, if you want to argue take it up with them). I found this to be about right, but I have found Logic on the same machine to be much more efficient.

I have never hit the HDD limit with two fast drives in Logic, and I can max out the number of voices in PT MP + MPK with no problem

Old 28th December 2009
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R3altruth's Avatar

I forgot to mention external backup but yea, it's very important
Old 30th December 2009
Gear interested

Thread Starter
Ok, So I purchased another WD 750 Caviar. Now I have A WD 320 and 3 WD 750's. According to what I've learned from several threads, my setup will go as follows:

1- WD 320 - OS & Apps (DP 7, Reason 4, Toast, Recycle, pretty much all applications.

2- WD 750 - All refills, wav & aiff files, rex files, sound library from soft synths, ie. FM8, Stylus, Absynth, EZ Drummer. Pretty much my whole sound library that is used in the Apps installed in the OS & Apps HD. (Question - Where can I find the library of sounds for each VI, soft synths, etc? You know how when you install a soft synth the presets are buried elsewehere than where the application was installed.

3- WD 750 - Projects that I'm working on. (Recording & playback). Question - Let's say I open a new project using Digital Performer and Reason. Should I then drag the seesion to this drive to consider this the record/playback drive because I'll be opening DP 7 and Reason from the OS & Apps drive? Please forgive if I'm a little slow on this.

4 - Backup? or should I use this for something else and get 2 external esata's?

Seeking Closure/Playitbyear
Old 30th December 2009
matt thomas's Avatar
So it sounds like you are going from a one drive, to a multi drive set up? Is that why you don't want to install your instruments again? You already have your instruments et set up on your session drive?

I don't use the same software as you, but this is probably correct:

2> It'll be different for different instruments. Have a rummage round and see what you can find. The actual location will be linked to somewhere in the settings of the instrument itself. Once you have copied the files to a new drive you will have to tell each instrument where to look to find its files. If you copy stuff between drives it normally makes a copy and doesn't "move" the files. So be careful that the instrument is not still looking at the original copy on your OS drive (perhaps even delete the original, once you are sure you have it right.)

You could also do it by reinstalling your instruments and following the on screen instructions, but this could take a while.

3> The best way to put an existing session on a new drive is to open the session then tell it to save a new copy to the new drive, including all audio files etc. If you just drag the folder that you think is right it might miss some files that were for some reason hiding in some other folder. You will also have tell your DAW what drive to use as the audio drive.

4> Its a good idea to have backup on an external drive. It doesn't matter what type, but you'll want it to be big. The first back up will take ages..

hope that helps. I've been pretty concise, so don't hesitate to ask if you need clarification

Old 30th December 2009
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R3altruth's Avatar

A cool thing to do is turn your spare internal drive into an external drive using an external enclosure... Thats a box that you can connect your drive into and it will have USB and/or Firewire and.or eSATA

And Matt's right... Each VST will decide where to save it's library depending on what location you selected while installing it
Old 31st December 2009
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oceantracks's Avatar

My setup on a Mac with 4 internal SATA drives is:

1 System/Apps startup drive 300G

2 Production Drive (all projects currently being worked on) 500G

3 Sample Drive 1T

4 Time Machine Drive (backup) 1T

5 EXTERNAL Firewire For archive of projects 1T

I record at 44.1/24 so only need one Production drive. Spreading a project over multiple drives is a nightmare and seldom is needed nowadays.

Old 31st December 2009
Gear maniac
keylay's Avatar

They mentioned it already but a back up drive is very important.
Old 8th January 2010
Gear Addict
frontierfran's Avatar

do you guys see any benefit from partitioning one physical internal harddrive into 2 partitions:

1. OS/Apps
2. audio


I know if the physical drive goes your S.O.L. regardless, but will this enhance performance at all if it is on the same physical drive?
Old 8th January 2010
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minor_glitch's Avatar

It won't enhance performance, no. It's really no different from running everything off of one drive.

The setup that works for me is 3 internal drives (one system drive and two in a RAID 0 array to run my projects off of) and one external drive for storage and backup (WD My Book Mirror Edition in RAID 1).
Old 8th January 2010
Gear Addict
frontierfran's Avatar

I figured. yea, I am about to swipe my iMac and put clean Snow Leopard and Logic Studio on it, and I was wondering if I should partition it prior.

Never had any (major) issues running Logic 8 on Leopard saving all sessions to the system drive and backing them up to 2 external Time Machines.

but, as you know, in iMac world, there isnt much you can do about adding internal drives...
Old 8th January 2010
Gear Addict
Will's Avatar

Why don't you use an external drive to save your audio to? I have don't loads of mixes on either a laptop or iMac and using a separate drive for audio definitely boosts your processing power and how many tracks you can run at the same time.

Some of those RAIDed Firewire 800 drives are really fast.
Old 8th January 2010
Gear Addict
frontierfran's Avatar

when I used to have a "real" studio, doing full band live sessions into PT I always used external. My now casual recording environment, I always just went to the internal HD. I stuck with it using Logic since I never was hindered at all.

The reality for me now, using an iMac (and not my former keystone Power Mac g5 tower), is that I have a humble Echo Audiofire using the FW 400 bus, and an iMac with only 1 FW 800 port.

One will suffer--its either using the interface at FW 400 and an external HD at 800, or vice versa. I will only be as fast as my slowest link. Will external still add performance taking all this into consideration?
Old 8th January 2010
Gear Addict
Will's Avatar

You could always just get a USB drive. They aren't as fast as FW 400, but still gives you better performance that taking everything from the internal HD.

Too be honest though, if you can do everything you need from the internal drive then don't bother with an external one. I have certainly used my laptop internal drive to mix before and it was fast enough.
Old 6th February 2010
Gear Nut
BradG's Avatar

I don't know about Performer, but Pro Tools does not like USB. Even non-media apps struggle with USB drives, for heavy lifting, in my personal experience. If you're on a Mac, use USB drives only for backups and limited data access (I use one for my iTunes library for example).

Regarding mixing from your laptop's internal drive, I've done some limited recording to an internal laptop drive, but for serious mixing, I have read numerous posts (do a search), where folks have claimed it to be too great of a strain, regardless of whether it's reading data fast enough, and more than a few have blamed drive failures on just such use, due to overheating.
Old 6th February 2010
My recommendations:

Look for the DAW partitioning guide.
Old 6th February 2010
Gear Maniac

I tried one little experiment long time ago,
i have an orchestral piece in cubase 3, using Kontakt2 to load up like 20 diff patches or so, there were clicks and pops during i play the project. Then i tried using 2 Kontakt2 , load up 10 patches in each of them, problems remains. Finally, i tried put all the strings samples in Drive A, winds in Drive B, Brass in Drive C, guess what? problems gone!

Since then, i put all the samples in different drive.

I think if you not too rely on VST samples instruments, single large HD will do the job nicely, however, if you get into sth like orchestral composition in DAW, try split the samples in diff drives.
Old 29th March 2010
Gear interested

I'm configuring a new set-up that I want to use both in the studio and at gigs. My 6930p laptop has 3 usb 2.0 ports and 1 firewire port, with a motu ultralite that can hook up to either firewire or usb, and I will use one USB on my apc40 controller. I have some questions about hard drives.

It looks like the recommendation is for multiple drives, something like [Drive 1 = OS + software; drive 2 = samples; drive 3 = projects], but if I hook up two external drives that will take all my remaining ports. Also of course it would be a plus to minimize the amount of crap I have to carry around for gigs (not that an external HD is heavy or bulky or anything, but still every little bit counts).

So if I want to run with just two drives, how about:

Drive 1 = OS + music software in 2 partitions
Drive 2 = samples + projects in 2 partitions

Any comments? Are the partitions even necessary?

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