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DAW/Virtual Instrument seperate hard drives?


SHaka40

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I've read many times that when you're using a huge virtual instrument or sample library such as Ivory etc, you should store the samples on a seperate hard drive than your O.S. And of course, if you go to any DAW or home recording forum, people reccomend you record and playback all of your audio on a seperate hard drive than your O.S. So, ideally, should I use 3 hard drives, one for my O.S./programs, a second for vst samples and libraries, and a third for storing the audio that I record in Sonar? Or can I assume that this "seperate hard drive" just means seperate from the O.S. in both instances and that a second drive will do for holding both the samples and the recorded audio tracks? How are you guys set up?

 

P.S. any thoughts on the benefits of using multiple hard drives or whether it's even necessary are welcome as well!

--Sean H.

 

Yamaha MOXF8, Korg TR76, Novation X-Station 61, Casio PX-320

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Great question.

 

I would certainly recommend the fastest hard drive or Solid State Disk you can get for your operating system and associated program files.

 

I would also get a second fast/large hard drive to store your sample libraries.

 

I would think that these two drives would be all you need and that you would not need a separate drive for your audio files. However, I'm not sure.

 

It could depend on the amount of RAM you have, if you are using a 64-bit OS to address >4Gig RAM, and if there is any chance that the loading of samples might somehow interfere with the writing of your audio data.

 

There are people here with experience in this. I will defer to their opinions & expertise.

 

Good luck. :thu:

 

Tom

 

"Music expresses that which cannot be put into words and that which cannot remain silent." - Victor Hugo
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I have done computers for a livlihood since the late 1980's. There are many factors. A leading factor is bottleneck theory (simple explantation - bottleneck is whatever is slowest or gets to full capacity first). If you clear a bottleneck, the next slowest device becomes the bottleneck.

 

Different sample libraries work differently. Especially with modern 64-bit operating systems and boards - it is possible to put some pretty large sample sets completely in RAM memory.

Ram memory operates at speeds that are 100,000 or more times as fast as ANY disk drive. So - if you have a system with enough RAM and the capability of addressing that RAM, you can have all samples in memory (if the programming supports this). That would be one thing less to worry about.

 

Next - the Operating System and storage of the finished tracks (either audio or MIDI or video for that matter). It is definitely better to have these two on completely separate disks. Just because you use two hard drives does not always mean completely separate disks. If the two drives are ATA instead of SCSI, and are on the same controller - one is running in master, the other in slave mode. Meaning that both are running from the same controller. Admittedly, the electronics in the controller is substantially faster than the mechanicals in the drive.

 

Solid state hard drive replacements - their primary advantage is no moving parts - meaning ruggedness. NOT speed.

 

Best drives for high speed operation presently are 15,000 rpm SCSI drives (serial SCSI is included in this). Only real problem for use in an audio studio is that a 15,000 rpm SCSI drive makes a noise a bit like a 757 jet engine (though not as loud). You need to isolate them acoustically).

 

Best overall operation is using RAID controllers. This acronym originally stood for redundant array of inexpensive drives. RAID controllers can be set up for redundant storage (i.e. data is stored on four physical drives, all making up a single logical drive - if one drive fails, the controller and other three drives can put the data back on a replacement drive. A two drive RAID (or hardware mirrored) array for the Operating SYstem is a good idea for failure prevention.

 

However, for data drives (this is assuming that separate backups of data are also made), the best RAID configuration is a striping configuration where the data is divided among the multiple drives, and the electronics in the RAID controller can therefore operate at a faster speed than any single drive, since it is splitting off parts of the data to several drives. That is the best configuration for storing data.

 

The actual storage of sample information needs to be on a reasonably fast drive, with rapid playback being most important (this assumes that the data itself remains constant, and is fed into RAM for use). The mirrored or redundant RAID configuration works best for this, since playback speed can increase over a single drive.

 

So, ideally - three separate RAID arrays, the OS being optimized for redundancy, the sample information also for redundancy (and playback speed), and the recording of information optimized for recording speed.

 

Lower pricing - Serial IDE controllers (as opposed to the older parallel IDE controllers) can be designed as RAID controllers. While not quite up to the fastest SCSI in overall efficiency, they are quite a bit cheaper for the same storage capacity. The SATA interface is theoretically capable of transferring data faster than the SCSI, but the drives are not being built above 10,000 rpm (at present) and are a bit slower than the 15,000 rpm SCSI. This would be the configuration I would recommend at the present time, assuming the budget would stand it.

 

If the budget won't stand it - most current motherboards support dual SATA controllers. Use one of them for the OS on one hard drive, and the optical drive (DVD-ROM or burner), and the other for two hard drives (one for samples, the other for data). A typical large tower case will hold all of this, and the higher rated power supplies will furnish needed power.

 

If this still breaks the budget, put the samples and recorded data on the same drive. Keep the OS separate (doesn't have to be a really big drive for this, either.) Most important - keep it off the Internet completely, don't install ANY general purpose Office, game, or other non-music software.

 

Jim

 

Howard Grand|Hamm SK1-73|Kurz PC2|PC2X|PC3|PC3X|PC361; QSC K10's

HP DAW|Epi Les Paul & LP 5-str bass|iPad mini2

"Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen."

Jim

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I used to run everything off the same drive. When I upgraded my DAW earlier this year, I decided to add an extra drive for all my libraries & song folders. The main drive has the OS & apps.

It definitely runs smoother.

What we record in life, echoes in eternity.

 

MOXF8, Electro 6D, XK1c, Motif XSr, PEKPER, Voyager, Univox MiniKorg.

https://www.abandoned-film.com

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Solid state hard drive replacements - their primary advantage is no moving parts - meaning ruggedness. NOT speed.

 

Not everyone agrees with that statement, Jim.

 

Here is an article an article on Anandtech.com that provides for good reading. Here is the take-away:

 

Drives will get better and although we're still looking at SSDs in their infancy, as a boot/application drive I still believe it's the single best upgrade you can do to your machine today. I've moved all of my testbeds to SSDs as well as my personal desktop. At least now we have two options to choose from: the X25-M and the Vertex.

 

==============================

 

Here is another article where Anandtech.com says:

 

If Intel can get capacities over 100GB at reasonable prices in the near future, I'd say that the X25-M would be the best upgrade you could possibly do to your system.

 

==============================

 

Tom's Hardware also has very good things to say about Intel's X25-E SSD in this article.

 

Describing the X25-E as the most efficient server drive would be correct, but I prefer to endorse it as the flash SSD storage product that finally redefines server storage performance, and resets the standards for high I/O devices. It isnt so much more efficient than hard drives, but hard drives are simply extremely inefficient when it comes to random workloads.

 

Sophisticated flash memory technology has reached a level at which a single storage product is capable of delivering performance levels formerly reached only on complex RAID arrays with 6-12 hard drives. Not only does it outperform those good old hard drives, but this single X25-E storage product does it while consuming only a bit more than 1 W, on average, compared to at least 100 W for a RAID array.

 

==============================

 

In this ExtremeTech article (September 8, 2008) they say:

 

 

We're not ones to use hyperbolic language often, but the overall performance we see with the Intel X25-M is astonishing, particularly in RAID 0. Sure, it's pricey, but we can now put to bed the issues that we've seen with other solid-state drives. The Intel drive is the fastest storage you can get for real world apps.

 

Product: Intel X25-M 80GB Solid State Drive

Company: Intel

Price: $595 (in qty 1,000)

Pros: Very fast read speeds; exceptional write performance for an SSD; almost no heat; silent.

Cons: Expensive; write performance in some apps still inferior to fast rotating storage.

Summary: Intel ships one of the fastest storage devices we've ever seen, but it costs a pretty penny. You know you want one.

 

 

 

"Music expresses that which cannot be put into words and that which cannot remain silent." - Victor Hugo
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Wow, great info and advice so far guys. I've still got a ton to learn about computers if your responses are any indication. I didn't realize that there were so many factors that determine whether 2 or 3 hard drives is necessary or important.

 

If it will help, I'll give you some details on my system. I'm running Windows XP (32-bit) on a self-built system that I put together earlier this year. I've got 3 gigs of ram, an AMD 64 X2 @ 3Ghz cpu, and a 500W power supply. I use an M-Audio Fast Track Ultra USB 2.0 interface and Sonar 6 producer edition to record. Currently, everything, including the O.S., other programs, audio data, etc. is on one hard drive. It is an old factory hard drive that came with my former computer. But there's still plenty of room on it and it performs fine. Though I know this is far from an ideal hard drive setup, it's actually performed fine, save for a rare audio dropout, etc. I don't do a ton of heavy-duty recording such as a ton of tracks at the same time, so that may be why I haven't had any problems so far.

 

The thing is, I'm pretty close to investing in something like Ivory, Garritan Steinway, etc and I want to have an optimum setup (at least as far as hard drives are concerned). As someone who is relatively uninformed on the subject, my guess would be that running an operating system, various other programs and processes, playing samples from a vst, and storing audio tracks all at the same time would be a hell of a lot to ask of one single hard drive. And that is exactly what would happen with my current setup if, let's say, I wanted to record an Ivory track and a vocal track at the same time. So I can definitely see why a second hard drive would be helpful. But I'm not sure if a third drive would help the situation even further or stretch my system's other resources (power supply, controller/motherboard, etc) too far and actually hinder performance.

--Sean H.

 

Yamaha MOXF8, Korg TR76, Novation X-Station 61, Casio PX-320

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I spread my samples over two Velociraptor drives: one for strings and percussion and the other for brass and woodwinds. I also have another Velociraptor drive for recording and the stock drive my Mac shipped with for the operating system. The more streaming you do, the more important drive speed is; and the more samples you have streaming at once, the more important it is to spread them out over multiple drives.

 

Of course as mentioned above, if you've got a lot of RAM and a 64-bit host, like PLAY or SONAR, then you can get away with a lot less streaming, or none at all, and drive performance becomes less important -- although fast drives should at least load your samples into RAM more quickly. However, if you're using a 32-bit host, which most DAWs still are, then you'll probably need to stream your samples and place them on separate drives.

 

I also try to make a habit of optimizing my sample drives after every installation.

 

Best,

 

Geoff

My Blue Someday appears on Apple Music | Spotify | YouTube | Amazon

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Your motherboard is current and supports SATA, so go ahead and get the large storage drive I mentioned earlier, see how that works out for your sample library and audio storage.

 

I think you'll be fine.

 

When Windows 7 is released, you can consider the 64-bit version and add more RAM to your system.

 

No worries. :thu:

"Music expresses that which cannot be put into words and that which cannot remain silent." - Victor Hugo
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I have installed Garritan Steinway and Cubase Essential 4.52 on a 200GB 7200RPM internal laptop drive on my Dell Studio 15. I record audio to an external Oyen Digital 200GB 7200RPM drive via USB 2.0. I run an M-Audio Profire 610 interface via the on-board Ricoh chipset Firewire port. The laptop is a Core 2 Duo 2.16 with 4GB of RAM. I'm running Vista Home Premium.

 

All of this runs great despite the Ricoh chipset and lack of dedicated sample/OS drives.

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To make it simple.

One drive for OS/DAW

One drive for reading samples.

One drive for writing output audio.

Nothing below 7200RPM.

 

I can hardly tell any difference between one computer that I took this relaxed approach on and my main computer that I obsessed over which drives to buy, how to spread data across the bus to avoid bottlenecks.

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Shaka40:

 

With your present system, ITGIC? has excellent suggestions. At this point, while still running 32 bit, more RAM would not be a benefit, and three drives is overkill. However, a second SATA drive (which are available over a terabyte now) would give enough improvement to justify the rather small cost factor. Personally, with such a configuration, I'd tend to get at least 7200rpm, maybe 10,000rpm, and put the OS and various software programs on the existing drive, and the large samples from Ivory and any other soft synths on the new drive; also doing the output file to the new drive.

 

Tom:

Solid-state drives will definitely become better - however, TODAY, the combination of cost, performance, and questions concerning just how many times the flash memory can be written to before it fails - I don't think it is there yet. Once the MTBF gets up to from 5 to 10 years, yes. (BTW - just for you, I added back the last key on my PC3 - fortunately, it was missing only in intrawebspace, so I didn't have to do hardware modifications).

 

 

Howard Grand|Hamm SK1-73|Kurz PC2|PC2X|PC3|PC3X|PC361; QSC K10's

HP DAW|Epi Les Paul & LP 5-str bass|iPad mini2

"Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen."

Jim

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I agree with what others have said about spreading your data out. To add to the excellent overview that MoodyBluesKeys provided, a common way for IT guys to increase performance is to isolate applications that share common Disk I/O (input output) patterns to their own disks. To apply this to your situation, your O/S is most likely split with random read & random write. Your DAW is probably primarily writing sequentially (at least where you are saving the recorded tracks). The VSTs, unless they are loaded into RAM, are probably reading (probably randomly depending on how many different samples you access at a time).

 

The advice stays the same, three fast disks split between OS, DAW, and samples. IF you have a disk I/O bottleneck right now, doing this will likely help.

 

Know how to use perfmon? It would be interesting to see your disk performance before and after adding the third disk.

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Some people are running 64bit Vista, and 32bit Cubase to get the most usable ram out of their systems (ie: 3-4gig).

I modified my .ini file a little to allow me to allocate just 1gig of ram to the OS, and the other 3 to Cubase (I'm using XP32bit). This mod doesn't work for everyone, but there's enough of us using it out there for it to be a viable method of squeezing more ram out of your system. Do a search on "3gig switch" to read a bit about it. Until all my hardware & soft has 64bit drivers, this is what I do. When I'm ready for 64bit, I'll get Vista Ultimate and then ram won't be a concern (as much) anymore.

What we record in life, echoes in eternity.

 

MOXF8, Electro 6D, XK1c, Motif XSr, PEKPER, Voyager, Univox MiniKorg.

https://www.abandoned-film.com

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Tom:

Solid-state drives will definitely become better - however, TODAY, the combination of cost, performance, and questions concerning just how many times the flash memory can be written to before it fails - I don't think it is there yet. Once the MTBF gets up to from 5 to 10 years, yes. (BTW - just for you, I added back the last key on my PC3 - fortunately, it was missing only in intrawebspace, so I didn't have to do hardware modifications).

 

 

Jim - YOU are Da MAN! :thu:

 

Obviously I'm a fanboy of SSDs. I can't wait for them to come down in price (yes I can)... And you are exactly right, the technology will continue to improve.

 

Thanks for your posts. It's always good to get your perspective. Oh, and I'm glad you found that darn key. 73 and 76, I understand. But 75 is just asking for trouble.

 

Tom

 

"Music expresses that which cannot be put into words and that which cannot remain silent." - Victor Hugo
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I have installed Garritan Steinway and Cubase Essential 4.52 on a 200GB 7200RPM internal laptop drive on my Dell Studio 15. I record audio to an external Oyen Digital 200GB 7200RPM drive via USB 2.0.

Which brings up another question. I've always heard and assumed that external USB 2.0 hard drives weren't fast enough (I'm talking from a USB 2.0 protocol standpoint, not hard drive rpm speed) to use for streaming audio from or recording audio to in realtime. If I was wrong in this assumption, then I guess could always get the SATA hard drive for my audio tracks and then just add a USB drive for storing the samples when/if I buy a virtual piano.

 

 

 

Shaka40:

 

However, a second SATA drive (which are available over a terabyte now) would give enough improvement to justify the rather small cost factor.

Did I mention that my current hard drive is an IDE drive? Not sure if this changes any of your suggestions, just thought I'd mention it. If/when I do get the 2nd drive though, of course it will be SATA.

--Sean H.

 

Yamaha MOXF8, Korg TR76, Novation X-Station 61, Casio PX-320

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Unless there is a computer BIOS issue, a mixture of IDE (parallel) and SATA (really still IDE, but serial) will work fine. A couple of my HP XW4100 are mixed - the DVD burner and original IDE drive on a parallel IDE controller, and an added SATA drive on a SATA controller.

Some BIOS give more options than others. On my machine, I can even select which controller is see first (test machine, running two different operating systems depending on which drive comes up as the first one).

 

There is SOME performance degradation on a USB external drive. Some of the current external housings also support what is called eSATA - external SATA - there is a special SATA connector on one of the mounting plates on the back of the computer, connects to external SATA drive - runs at the full SATA speed. My HD-DVR/cable box uses this, has an internal 160G drive, and I added an external 500G to be able to store more shows.

 

Howard Grand|Hamm SK1-73|Kurz PC2|PC2X|PC3|PC3X|PC361; QSC K10's

HP DAW|Epi Les Paul & LP 5-str bass|iPad mini2

"Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen."

Jim

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Tom:

Solid-state drives will definitely become better - however, TODAY, the combination of cost, performance, and questions concerning just how many times the flash memory can be written to before it fails - I don't think it is there yet. Once the MTBF gets up to from 5 to 10 years, yes.

 

I think that´s right,- too early to go the route w/ the solid state drives now.

 

I always used 3 drives in my DAW,- system, audio and samples.

 

A few days ago, I got a ASUS P5WD2 Premium mobo, Intel dual core processor, Mushkin Redline 2x2GB DDR2 RAMkit w/ selected Micron chips and a excellent Zahlman CPU cooler as a gift and want to built a new DAW,- need SATA2 drives now ...

 

I researched and have the following ones in mind:

 

Western Digital WD 1500HLFS Velocity Raptor 150GB for system and programms/apps,- the fastest but smallest drive and w/ 16MB cache.

 

2 Seagate ST3500320, 500GB, 32MB cache, 7.200rpm, 24/7 spec for audio and samples.

The Velocity Raptor is a no brainer, but is there anyone reporting good or bad experiences regarding the Seagates ?

 

Regarding 1TB drives, I got the recommendation for Samsung because these shall be the fastest of the 7.200rpm drives, but also found a report of a customer who got Samsung Spinpoint F1 103UJ which both failed one after the other after purchase.

 

Can anyone confirm these drives to be unreliable and/or has beter experiences w/ 1TB drives from Samsung or other manufacturers ?

 

thx

 

A.C.

 

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eSATA - external SATA - there is a special SATA connector on one of the mounting plates on the back of the computer, connects to external SATA drive - runs at the full SATA speed.

 

Ya!

 

And then there's this: USB 3.0 Ups Peripheral Bandwidth

 

http://media.bestofmicro.com/,U-H-207161-3.png

 

 

USB 3.0 is specified to run at 5 Gbit/s maximum speed. However, this increase is still great enough to offer almost twice the bandwidth of todays Serial ATA standard (3 Gbit/s gross bandwidth).

 

:thu::snax:

"Music expresses that which cannot be put into words and that which cannot remain silent." - Victor Hugo
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All good info, I use 4 HDD's, mac setup, so Im also using Firewire as compared to usb...7200 for sure...Drive 1, all apps, Drive 2, all samples, Drive 3, all audio, Drive 4..BACKUP Everything..everyday!!!!
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Ya!

 

And then there's this: USB 3.0 Ups Peripheral Bandwidth

 

http://media.bestofmicro.com/,U-H-207161-3.png

 

 

USB 3.0 is specified to run at 5 Gbit/s maximum speed. However, this increase is still great enough to offer almost twice the bandwidth of todays Serial ATA standard (3 Gbit/s gross bandwidth).

 

:thu::snax:

 

With USB(2), I´ve made the experience, the bandwidth is/was theoretical always. 480Mbits w/ USB2 means 60MB and even w/ a special USB2/Firewire controller card featuring TI chipsets I never got more bandwidth than a max. of 24MB/sec. in real world.

In opposite to Firewire, the bandwidth of USB2 isn´t bi-directional.

Also, USB2 isn´t very reliable,- I had 2 USB2 drives (Western Digital SATA drives inside) failing by Windows read/write errors causing dmaged MFT and master boot record.

 

So, question is:

Will be USB3 bandwidth bi-directional and will this be a theoretical value only as w/ USB2.

 

A.C.

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All good info, I use 4 HDD's, mac setup, so Im also using Firewire as compared to usb...7200 for sure...Drive 1, all apps, Drive 2, all samples, Drive 3, all audio, Drive 4..BACKUP Everything..everyday!!!!

 

Yes,- don´t forget the backup drive !

But I preferm ´em to be external ones, so for me, these should be eSATA.

 

A.C.

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All good info, I use 4 HDD's, mac setup, so Im also using Firewire as compared to usb...7200 for sure...Drive 1, all apps, Drive 2, all samples, Drive 3, all audio, Drive 4..BACKUP Everything..everyday!!!!

 

Yes,- don´t forget the backup drive !

 

Woops. Almost forgot about that one. So now I'm probably looking at 3-4 hard drives as opposed to 1-2. How exactly do most of you guys back up your hard drives. I've read about "ghosting" programs like Norton's popular one. Is that a viable option for this application? I also know there are ways to network drives, use the internet to backup, etc. Which method is most appropriate for a recording setup?

--Sean H.

 

Yamaha MOXF8, Korg TR76, Novation X-Station 61, Casio PX-320

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My rec is a 1.5 TB backup drive on two 750 GB partitions. Use one to backup your system drive, and the other to back up your data drive. Your library drive for sample libraries probably doesn't need a backup copy as you have the original DVD installers.

Eugenio Upright, 60th P-Bass, Geddy Lee J-Bass, Hofner HCT-500/7, Yamaha BBP35, Viking Bari

Select Strat, Select Tele, Am Pro JM, LP 57 Gold, G5422DC-12, T486, ES295, PM2, EXL1

XK1c, Voyager, Prophet XL

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