Samples Offline and Library Management

I'm afraid this will be a longer post than the rest of the Ableton Answers posts I have seen.  I also have read the related posts with the Samples Offline and Library headings, and am following them.

I have over 700 Ableton Live projects saved to my external Glyph GT050Q hard drive.  In many of them, most of the audio clips are highlighted in yellow and say "sample offline".  I've been doing alot of recording on an external iTouch-based DAW program (Multitrack DAW), so lately I've mostly been using Live to master, archive, and make aiff recordings of these songs.  As a result I haven't been checking whether these recordings were saved correctly for awhile, and now I'm stuck with the "sample offline" problem.   Just yesterday I mastered 5 tracks of audio from a fiddle lesson that I dragged in to Live from a flash drive;  in this case the audio from two of the five tracks will play, but the other three are listed as "sample offline" .  I made my edits, mastered some .aiff recordings and saved the project using "save as".  Perhaps that is the problem.  I often (perhaps always) use "save as" to give the file a name and a project folder.  After reading the manual and a bunch of posts on the forum it appears that I should have been using either "save a copy" or "collect all and save" instead.  A bummer, but I can correct this in the future.

So, how do I get my audio back?  I've exhaustively used Live's File Manager to locate missing samples.  To do this, I opened a Live set that contained missing samples and had the File Manager do automatic searches of the root and subfolders of each of my hard drives.  This took several hours.  No "candidate" files were found at all. I have also tried Repair Library in the control panel. 

I did find a collection of audio clips (105 folders named things like "Temp-105 Project") that were being saved to the temporary folder: <</Users/adamhill/Music/Ableton/Live Recordings/>>.  It appears that they have been disaggregated from the project file that I named and save on my external drive.  When I try to drag one of these recorded samples (e.g. 0001 Guitar 1. aif) back into a Live track, it does not permit me to drop it in, so I can't audition these tracks.  I did put these back into the Live library file path and did get some of my audio clips back, but not most of them.

This may or may not be an audio path issue.  My Ableton library, on my primary internal imac hard drive, is:   <</users/adamhill/Music Production/Live/Live 6 Library>> .  My Ableton project folders are on my external Glyph drive under a folder titled <<music production/Live/Live Sets>>.  Looking into the folders, many of these recorded samples (meaning audio files in their <<samples/recorded>> folders are missing, but others are present.  It does not seem to be a matter of when they were recorded over the last few years.  I have no idea even where the audio clips from the fiddle lesson I mastered yesterday are stored.  Does Live think they only exist on the external drive, and on all the external drives I have used for many of those 700+ songs?  

I want to be clear that I think my clips should be stored on the same drive as my project folders.  I don't know what the consequences will be if I change my live library folder to the external drive.  I would be fine with this, but would live then become confused with respect to all of the other files that are used in a project, such as EZ & Superior Drummer files?  

I have Live 8.2.1 Suite running on an iMac 2.8Gig with 4 gig RAM.  It runs Leopard 10.5.8.  I have an APC40, a Novation SLMKII, and run audio through a Presonus Firebox.  I run Waves NPP plugs, Superior Drummer, Reason 4.0.  I have an unstable system with lots of crashing problems that I have not been able to isolate.  For now I am just bummed that my song files are not where I thought I saved them.

Can I get these recordings back, and if so how?


6 answers

  • Dennis DeSantis Ableton staff
    33 answers
    202 votes received
    5 votes

    Hi Adam,

    There are a lot of topics here. I'll try to address some of the most pertinent ones, but it might be a good idea to separate each distinct topic out into its own question. This way, people who are able to answer that specific topic might feel more comfortable answering, even if they can't address the rest.

    Some ideas:

    - Live's File Manager is very picky about replacing missing samples with candidates. It looks at more than just file names, sample lengths, etc. If the sample has been modified by an application other than Live, for example, it is likely that the File Manager will fail to find or replace the candidate.  Are you sure that none of your unfound samples were modified by another application? Even opening and saving a sample in another program can be enough to make the File Manager think it's unusable.

    - if you mouse over a sample in the Missing Media Files list in the File Manager, you will see the expected path to the sample at the bottom of the File Manager. If, for example, you're missing a sample that you recorded and that the Set expected to find in its corresponding Project, the path will be something like "Project:Samples/Recorded/0001 1-Audio.wav."

    - if you actually know where one of the missing samples is located, you can try to specify the path via the Set Folder button visible when you unfold Automatic Search in the File Manager. If you also disable Search Library and Search Project, the search will happen much faster.  You can also navigate directly to the sample in the Browser and drag it manually onto the missing sample in the File Manager to replace it without having to do a search. Note that Live will let you do this even if the file isn't actually the right one - it assumes that you know what you're doing when manually replacing a sample.

    You mentioned that you were able to find some (but not all) missing samples by putting some of the Temp projects into your Library. I wouldn't recommend this. Technically, the Library is a project - just like the projects that are created when saving a Set. Nested projects can have quite unpredictable behavior, especially when using the File Manager.

    I hope this answers some of your questions, or at least provides possible directions to take to solve some of the problems.

    6 years ago | 1 comment
  • longjohns
    3 answers
    20 votes received
    2 votes

    usually the OS search can be much faster than the Ableton File Manager search function - and there is the ability to drag OS folders into the Live file manager search pane. 


    so, try searching for the file in finder/spotlight, and then using that result to direct the live search?


    Also, going forward - the active Live Library is basically just a folder location which has a special relationship to the Browser - what is visible in the various parts of the browser file structure.   Your working or temp recording path is separate.  This is where sounds will be recorded in sets which have not yet been saved.  Once a set has been saved, it's sounds will instead be located inside several sub-folders of the Project Folder which contains that set.

    6 years ago | 0 comments
  • TheMechanism
    1 answer
    2 votes received
    2 votes

    I find that if are using multiple computers or hard drives the "Collect all and save" function will put all the session data into the session folder and keep it all in once place. Useful to avoid future problems

    6 years ago | 0 comments
  • dcocharro
    8 answers
    13 votes received
    1 vote



    I just found these great tutorials recently, check them in this order.

    they should give a good insight in library management good practices.

    Credits to Jon Margulies (Hobotech)

    6 years ago | 0 comments
  • dcocharro
    8 answers
    13 votes received
    1 vote


    I found another approach in library management for those who like to keep their custom presets, instruments, sounds, etc inside ableton library, but at the same time keep control of their own stuff.

    This approach will allow you to have all your stuff inside ableton library and at the same  time keep a backup copy in a external folder only of your custom presets/instruments.

    The idea is simple and to accomplish that you need a file/folder sync software, for instance:

    This software will allow you to sync a source folder to a destination folder.

    The idea is to filter all the files/folders that have not been customized by user, and copy them to a external folder. There are 2 methods to accomplish this:

    > Method 1 (include):

    In method 1 you should create folders inside ableton library to save all your presets with a recognizable TAG in their name AND/OR name your presets/files with a TAG also. For example:

    • _my reverbs
    • _my instruments
    • _my rack fx
    • _my operator
    • _my sounds
    • _johndoe reverb.adv
    • _johndoe favorite_fx.adg

    and so on...

    What are the recognizable tags here? It's the word "_my" and "_johndoe".

    Inside GoodSync software (you only need to do this once):

    1. Setup source folder (ex: /users/johndoe/library/application support/ableton/library)
    2. Setup destination folder (ex: /users/johndoe/documents/backup)
    3. Setup include Filter, here you will add the following lines:
    • _my*
    • _johndoe*

    With everything properly right in the setup and your files/folders well named (tagged) the software will filter in the analysis anything that doesn't start with "_my" or "_johndoe".

    Then will copy only your tagged files/folders to the destination folder, preserving the folder structure inside the library.

    > Method 2 (exclude):

    In method 2 you should setup a different filter. This one should exclude files/folders prior to a modification date. Lets say that this date should be something around the day you installed Ableton Live in your computer. For instance:

    • Ableton Live Installation day in 2011/5/31
    • Filter date 2011/6/1

    In GoodSync software the filter should look something like this:

    • any time<2011/6/1

    With the filter properly written it should copy to your destination folder only the files/folders with modification date after 2011/6/1.

    One advantage is that you shouldn't need to tag files/folders names.

    > Final Thoughts:

    I think method 1 is more reliable.

    In method 2 I'm not sure how this will behave when you update/repair Ableton Live Library.

    You could try also a combination of method 1 and 2.

    I came to this library management approach very recently, so I'm fresh in this also, I will appreciate a lot your feedback/experience.

    Check the user manual of your software of choice for files/folders sync. Each one have a lot of different features and rules to setup filters.


    Best wishes


    6 years ago | 0 comments
  • 3enj4m1n
    2 answers
    2 votes received
    1 vote

    I have a lot of sympathy with the original post.

    Recently I decided to organise my Ableton projects after 2 years of casual use and not worrying too much about correct file management. I thought I had been quite careful but I discovered, as I went through my old projects, that a lot of stuff was offline.

    My background is as a professional Pro Tools operator, so I thought "it's no big deal because I know all my projects and associated files are in one folder called Ableton Projects. I'll just re-link everything in the file manager".

    I eventually got it all together. However, I was disappointed by the Albleton Live file manager. It really is not helpful compared to Pro Tools, which I am used to. I spent hours manually relinking files in Ableton which were obvious candidates, but which the file manager ignored completely. I'm using Live version 8.

    I agree with an earlier comment saying the OS search is often much quicker.

    In addition to this gripe. I think that in general, the entire file structure of Ableton Live is over- complicated, when compared to Pro Tools.


    5 years ago | 0 comments

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