Where to store tracks, temp folder with dual-drive setup

Discussion of music production, audio, equipment and any related topics, either with or without Ableton Live
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Where to store tracks, temp folder with dual-drive setup

Post by xXUKCXx » Sun May 03, 2020 5:07 pm


I've recently switched from a single to a dual-drive setup via Ableton's advice for a multi-drive setup, in which they suggest two external drives -- one for packs and sound libraries, and the other for the temp folder, live projects, and cache. Their reasoning is to avoid the 'traffic jam' that occurs when multi-track recording and reading audio from the same disc. Seeing as I'm using two instead of three drives, I wonder what the best configuration would be. I would like to store not only the temp folder, live projects, and cache, but also my tracks/stems for my live projects, making my external drive the primary source of all audio that I'm using.
Both my internal and external drives are 1TB SSDs, high quality and new, from Western Digital. I'm using a late 2013 imac, and the external drive is connected via an OWC thunderbolt 2 drive dock. I'm using this dock because it allows me to transfer data with faster speeds, via the thunderbolt connection. I believe the maximum transfer rate on the imac's thunderbolt 1 connection is 10GBPS. I only ever record a maximum of two audio sources at one time, but usually just a single mono source.
Can anyone tell me if I'm better off storing the temp folder, live projects, and cache on this external drive as well as the packs and sample libraries, or if it would be best to place them on my internal drive -- with maximum speed and efficiency being the goal? If so, please explain your reasoning.

Thank you very much.

https://help.ableton.com/hc/en-us/artic ... ard-drives

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Re: Where to store tracks, temp folder with dual-drive setup

Post by Beaches077 » Sat Sep 12, 2020 10:27 am

This is actually something that I'm wondering about myself. I wish they would've gone into a little more detail about the mechanics of the 'traffic flow' and why a traffic jam would occur in the first place. I don't think they actually mention where to store your ableton project files but, I'm thinking that it would be best to put those on an HDD since the files are re-written when you make edits and save them. I've read that you should try to avoid storing files on an SSD if the files are being changed all the time.

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Re: Where to store tracks, temp folder with dual-drive setup

Post by TLW » Sat Sep 12, 2020 6:23 pm

SSD lifespans seem far longer than what was originally suggested years ago. I used a single Intel SATA SSD in a PC then later in a TB2 case for both recording to and storing the audio and user library for many years and it still checks out OK. I've had several HDDs fail over that time.

The "Drive bottleneck" problem dates back years, to when the computer's processing power was good enough to run the software of the time without too many issues but the ISA or SATA 1 interface and even the HDDs themselves (especially 5200rpm ones in laptops) couldn't shift data quickly enough to keep up with projects that had a lot of audio tracks in them or with streaming large sample libraries. So some of us, myself included, worried about exactly which partition on a spinning drive was fastest and ran two or more HDDs in RAID 0 to get maximum throughput.

In my personal experience, SATA II and SSDs pretty much dealt with the issue - a single SSD being able to transfer around as much data per second as the RAID 0 array I was using, and with much faster seek times. I recently bought a Samsung 500GB TB3 external NVMe SSD to go with my new TB3 equipped Mac, and file transfers from the Mac's internal 1 TB NVME drive to the external SSD are blindingly fast. SSD prices have dropped a lot over the last few years and if the Samsung dies out of warranty then I'll probably pay less for its replacement than I paid for this one. I think using an external SSD for this purpose rather than the internal drive still makes sense as I track a lot of audio. Whether it's as advisable to keep the OS and recordings etc. on different drives like it was years ago I doubt, but to me it makes sense that spreading the load can't be a bad thing.

Obviously a good backup strategy is a good idea in case of drive failure, but that applies to any drive whether HDD or SSD. The "click of death" from an HDD can happen at any time, even while a drive is still in warranty. I know because I lost two Seagate HDDs to mechanical failure within a year of buying them.
Live 10 Suite, 2020 27" iMac, 3.6 GHz i9, MacOS Catalina, RME UFX, assorted synths, guitars and stuff.

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