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How can I optimize Live's performance with a multiple hard drive setup?

  • Live Versions: 9
  • Operating System: ALL

Your system can achieve a higher level of performance using a multiple hard drive set up. In this article, we will provide an example of a viable setup based on three disks plus a backup drive.

System Disk

The system disk would ideally be an SSD in this configuration.

Using such a drive as the system disk will greatly improve the loading times of your applications, because of the drive's superior speed in accessing data.

Because such drives normally come with a quite small storage space (at least the affordable ones) with respect to the usual disk drives, we recommend using this to install your operating system, your audio applications and plugins.   

It is highly recommended to always keep at least a minimum of 10% of free space on your system drive.

2nd drive - samples and libraries

The second hard drive is used to store samples and sound libraries. Ideally, this drive would be a SATA 3 - 7200 RPM for best performance. Please format this drive into your operating system's native format to ensure the best performance possible. On Windows, this format would be NTFS. On Mac OS X, this would be HFS+ (Mac OS Extended).

If you are working with a desktop computer, the best choice would be to install the drive in your computer's dedicated SATA slot.

Should no slot be available, or if you work with a laptop computer, you will need to install the drive in a USB, Firewire or Thunderbolt enclosure: note that doing so will slightly compromise the drive speed.

If possible, use Firewire 800, Thunderbolt or USB 3.0 drives for maximum speed. USB 3.0 enclosures need to be plugged in to a USB 3.0 port to access the full bandwidth. In any case, we recommend avoiding the use of external USB hubs.

To install or to move your Live Sound Packs to this drive you can use the Library tab in Live's Preferences Dialog.

Packs Prefs.png

The library preferences tab. Upon choosing a new location for the Factory Packs, Live will ask if you wish to move the existing ones to the new directory.

Click on "Browse" where it reads "Installation folder for Packs" and point the browser to a folder inside your secondary SATA drive.

If you have already installed a number of Live Packs, you can move them to this new directory: Live will ask you if you intend to do so as soon as you have chosen a new folder.

Use this drive also for your third party software audio libraries and for third-party sample packs.

3rd drive - Audio Recording and File Caching

Especially if you are performing multi-track recording, a dedicated SATA drive (7200 RPM for best performance) is highly recommended. Please format this drive into your operating system's native format to ensure the best performance possible. On Windows, this format would be NTFS. On Mac OS X, this would be HFS+ (Mac OS Extended).

A dedicated path for the recording of audio data avoids the traffic jam caused by reading and writing simultaneously to a single hard disk. Besides, 24-bit recordings (recommended) will take a lot of disk space. Especially if you record with high sample rates (88Khz - 96Khz), an external drive is most likely mandatory.

If you did not save your project yet, all the audio recordings will be temporarily stored in a temporary folder. To configure Live so that this specific drive is used for this purpose, open Preferences and go to the File/Folder tab.

File Folder.png

The File/Folder preferences tab let's you configure the default folder for audio recordings

Once you save your Live Set, all the recordings stored in this temporary folder will be copied over to the Project Folder where your Live Set is stored. For this reason, we recommend saving your Live Sets to this third drive.

Whenever you import a compressed audio file such as MP3, FLAC or AAC, Live will need to decode this file before playing it back. The decoded file will be saved in the Cache folder, so it might be a good idea to use this third drive for this purpose as well.

The Cache folder can also be set from the same Preferences dialog.

4th drive - Back-up

Keeping a dedicated drive for backup purposes and backing up data regularly is a must. Drive speed is not relevant in this case, and you might as well use your slowest drive for this purpose.

If compatibility with both OS X and Windows is a requirement, you might decide to use FAT32 or NAS drives. Both Windows and Mac computers can in fact read and write on such drives without the need of third party applications.

Remember that the FAT32 file system does not allow the storage of files larger than 4GB.

Troubleshooting

To avoid disk performance issues, it might be a good idea to use different buses for your audio device and for your hard drives, or else you might end up with a bottleneck where the bus cannot handle all the data stream.

If you experience issues with crackles and droputs, this might be happening because your drives cannot provide the audio stream quickly enough: find out how to troubleshoot such issues in this dedicated article.