Need some PC help please - reformatting a portable hard drive

Discussion in 'Recording/Live Sound' started by meterman, Jan 10, 2008.


  1. meterman

    meterman Member

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    I have a 250GB portable hard drive that is currently formatted as FAT32. I've read that I need to reformat to NTFS for DAW use so I've copied everything over to an external drive and am ready to reformat this one. My question is regarding the 'allocation unit size' drop down menu - is there an optimal size for DAW applications? I've read that 512 bytes is bad, and that 4096 is what I want. Does this sound correct and if so should I just use the default allocation size option or set it to 4096? Or would I want to use 1024 or 2048?

    Thanks!
     
  2. Jayson Chance

    Jayson Chance Member

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    When I was using Windows machines for recording, I found a ton of great info at www.musicxp.net. They cover all of these issues.

    I think this is the topic you are asking about (?)

    http://www.musicxp.net/hardware_tips.php

    Looks like it gets into cluster sizes about 1/2 way down the page.

    Hope this helps!
     
  3. meterman

    meterman Member

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    Thanks man, that confirms what I read from another source, to switch to NTFS w/ XP and use the largest cluster available (4KB). Steep learning curve on this stuff but I'm trying to maximize an older machine (1.7Mhz Pentium IV, 1GB RAM max) until I can afford something faster...

    One further question, in trying to separate my system disc (C) from my audio and data files, I was planning to use a Lacie 250GB portable hard drive w/ USB 2.0 for the audio/data. Do you think this will work or would I be better off with a second internal drive?

    Thanks again!
     
  4. Jayson Chance

    Jayson Chance Member

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    USB 2.0 drives should be fine for recording. I know Digidesign raises hell about it having to be firewire, and Pro Tools in particular does seem to work better with firewire. But I, along with lots of other folks I know, have used USB 2.0 drives as recording drives with no real problems. Main drawback is that it's not quite as fast data transfer as firewire (even though it's "rated" higher) and it uses CPU resources where firewire does not.

    If you are using a 1.7 P4 with 1 gig of ram, then you should be able to record and playback ok. The issue you'll run into is when trying to use plugins and virtual instruments. That CPU will get used up pretty quickly at that point.

    You should be cool for recording with your setup, though. Just follow the musicxp.net advice and tweak Windows to the max for recording applications. Try to keep it offline, too. Anti-virus sucks up a lot of CPU.
     
  5. meterman

    meterman Member

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    Thanks Jason, that's a big help. I can't afford to upgrade right now but really want to get started on some basic demos, nothing fancy. Those resources are great, I've learned a whole lot this past week trying to max my system and get rid of those clicks and pops!

    One question, since I just have the one computer right now I need it for email etc. Can I just unplug from the cable modem and turn Norton off when I'm recording? Or maybe set up two separate profiles, one for everyday use and one maximized for recording?

    Thanks again for all the info
     
  6. gtrguy17

    gtrguy17 Member

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    Just 2 more quick cents: I have ProTools LE running on a fast machine, and it HATED recording to an external firewire drive. I tried LaCie and Glyph with really bad results. I then put in a second internal drive and have not had one hiccup since. Food for thought...
     
  7. meterman

    meterman Member

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    OK thanks I will keep that in mind if I start having more problems. I'm using Cubase SE, don't know if that makes any difference...I suppose it would be easy enough to add another internal drive for audio and use the Lacie portable drive for regular backups....

    So, if I was using a second internal drive, say 80GB or so, does that use less system resources than the portable on USB 2.0? I have a feeling I'm pushing my CPU pretty hard so anything I can do to cut back would help....
     
  8. gtrguy17

    gtrguy17 Member

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    Meterman-
    I really am not sure if there will be any difference between using a USB drive -vs- a second internal drive. I guess that you could try it each way and watch your CPU usage in Task Manager to see if there is any difference. My bet is that there won't be.

    good luck,
    Paul
     
  9. Jayson Chance

    Jayson Chance Member

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    I don't doubt that at all! Pro Tools in particular is so freaking tempermental sometimes that it's endlessly aggravating. You read all these stories on the DUC (Pro Tools forum) about people having a hard time getting their systems working properly.

    I can tell you this.. It's taken me nearly 6 months of hardware and platform changes to finally get mine perfectly stable with Pro Tools.
    I only use it because it's so convenient. *EVERYBODY* has it and it makes session swapping really easy. But I'm strongly considering switching to Logic or another platform in the coming months.

    Regardless, to get Pro Tools to work properly with my setup, I gradually ended up with hardware and system tweaks that *exactly* matched Digidesign's requirements.

    Other DAW software seems to be a lot more forgiving in terms of the machines & hardware you use.

    It's almost like Digidesign *wants* you to get frustrated to the point you throw up your hands and sink big bucks into the HD system.

    As for the OP, tweak the heck out of your Windows machine with musicxp.net. But trust me, you'll be better off if you wipe the hard drive clean and do a fresh install on XP.

    And DON'T install any anti-virus! I know that sounds like a disaster waiting to happen, but that's what I did. Even when you "turn anti-virus off," it still has little hidden processes going on that eat up your CPU.

    When I was on Windows, I was just VERY careful about what I did online. I used no anti-virus, and just kep my browsing VERY light. Mainly just went to trusted sites (like TGP) and checked email. And NEVER opened an email attachment if I wasn't 100% sure what it was. I did have ad-aware installed, and just ran it about once a week to clean off spyware.

    You can make a Windows machine work well, but you REALLY need to keep your internet activities to a minimum and try to avoid anti-virus software if possible. Like I said, I know it's dangerous territory not having Norton, McAfee, or whatever. But I never had any problems just simply being VERY selective online and learning to look out for "red flags" when I was surfing.

    In the end, I just made the Apple switch and don't have to fool with malware anymore. YMMV
     

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