How To Manage Your Samples

Most major Digital Audio Workstation programs (Ableton Live, Logic Pro, Pro Tools etc) come with a sizeable sample library which can take up many Gigabytes of valuable storage space. At some point, it might make sense to move some of these off your main computer…

Room To Move

Optimising your computer setup can provide significant performance improvements for your DAW, and there is virtually no limit to the amount of tweaking you can do to customise your hardware. There are some basic things that provide major boosts however; for your operating system drive, moving to a SSD can greatly improve responsiveness, although you will need to either clone your existing drive or perform a fresh OS install.

Increasing the amount of RAM in your machine is an even simpler hardware upgrade and can massively improve system performance, particularly when dealing with sample-heavy work.

In terms of hard drives, the ideal setup is to have one physical drive for your operating system and program installations (an SSD is best here), another physical drive to save your projects on and a third physical drive for your samples.

The Portable Setup

Of course, if you’re running from a laptop, it’s unlikely that you’ll have more than one physical drive – though it is possible to remove the DVD drive and replace it with a second hard drive/SSD if you really want to. But if storage space is becoming tight on your laptop, the best option might be to move your sample libraries onto a speedy and spacious external drive. There are a number of options here; USB 2.0 being the slowest option in common use today, but if you have a 7200rpm drive hard drive even that should be adequate for many users (try to avoid slower 5400rpm hard drives if possible).

At the faster end of connectivity, we have USB 3.0 and Thunderbolt – the latter being the absolute speed champion, but at a significant price premium (which, to be honest, just isn’t worth it for most users). In fact, USB 3.0 isn’t far behind in practice, and is also backwards compatible with USB 2.0, so this is definitely proving to be the more popular route – and delivers super fast speeds when connected to an external SSD.

Most sample libraries can be simply moved onto the new external drive, and you can browse them perfectly well from there. When installing Logic Pro on OSX, however, the program likes to install everything onto one drive – both the main program and the associated sample library – which can be problematic if you’re short on space. This video shows an approach to take in this instance…


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