AbletonLive /DAW Hard Drive Setup (HELP)

Posted this over on Elektronauts and thought I’d slam it up here too in the hope that a fellow Operator can shed some tech light on things - is 1 single SSD good enough? …

Looking for a bit of advice from anyone that knows about DAW installation and Hard Drives.

At the moment I have a laptop with 256gb SSD.

I’m doing full wipe of the computer - so complete wipe and upgrade to Win8.
I’ll be installing

  • Ableton Live Suite (1gb Software 54gb libraries)
  • NI Maschine (15gb)
  • Komplete 9 (120gb)

So, obviously the current SSD isn’t big enough for all that.

Currently I have all sample libraries on an external USB3 Drive but it has to sit alongside laptop when music making so it’s a pain when wanting to sit with computer on lap and means I have to take it everywhere.

I’ve read that you are best to install Applications onto main drive and should install Libraries/Samples onto another to increase performance. Is this true with SSD’s too?

What I’m thinking is either…
  • Get a 512GB SSD upgrade (£200) and install everything on there so no need to carry around any external equipment. And I can put the old 256gb drive into an enclosure and use it for storage elsewhere.
  • Or use current 256GB SSD and grab a 256GB USB Flash Drive that can plug straight into laptop so doesnt dangle beside it. Put Applications and VST’s on Main drive and all libraries on USB. The drawback is that I’d have to take this around with laptop too.
  • Another option is a little USB SSD Drive as these are like a thick credit card and could velcro onto the back of laptop screen. These are not made by any of the big respected brands so may be risky in terms of drive failure.

Anyone know if the bigger drive option would be better/worse than externals?

I actually work in the hard drive industry for Seagate. In a traditional system where you can put 2 hard drives in, it certainly helps to have 1 OS drive and 1 sample drive. It takes the load off of the drive that is serving up OS data to not have to go find sample data. For SSD, there isn’t nearly the latency associated with this “seeking” for data. To your question, I think you would run faster to use a bigger SSD, than to run another external SSD or thumb drive, since those will go as fast as the USB buss can go, rather than the SATA buss. I don’t deal much with SSDs, but that is my hunch. You can also consider a hybrid drive. I noticed a change in speed going from a traditional HDD to a hybrid drive, and on top of it you get 1TB of data. (My hybrid is a Seagate drive, and works great!)

TL;DR - get a big SSD.

I'd get a big SSD but that's because I don't like having to try and point everything to other library locations if I don't have to. I will say that Ableton works okay in that regard, though, but I can't say for the others due to lack of experience. NI puts Komplete Ultimate on a hard drive, so I would assume it will be okay, too.

If you buy a flash drive, keep in mind that for one that will be good for your needs will pretty much cost as much as an SSD of comparable size, because you want good/fast flash memory. I'd prefer USB 3 here if your computer supports it.

Of course, SeaGate (I'm a fan) has a 2.5" 8GB/1TB hybrid for $90 on NewEgg.

I'm putting a 512GB SSD in my desktop for the OS and programs, and another 512GB I already own for music recording and sample streaming. I'll leave the 1TB 3.5" (SeaGate Barracuda) for MP3s and movies (and a partition for the paging file, because fuck the paging file destroying/slowing a perfectly good OS install over time hehe).

Thanks for the prompt reply, its just a small thinkpad i’ve got so can only hold one drive.

Opinion seems to be very varied with some saying one SSD would suffice but others saying you need another for sample etc.

Anyone else with thoughts?


I think the Komplete Ultimate on the external HD is only for installation - the files don’t run from it (i dont think).

Yup a new 512GB SSD is about the same cost as a 256GB Flash USB Stick Drive, you can get 512GB Flash Drives that sit alongside that are the size of a credit card only thicker.

Is it a macbook? Maybe trade the superdrive bay for ssd a la OWC Data Doubler?

Another option would be a big ass AD card that sits flush in the SD slot. Have seen a couple of these.

Nope it’s a PC laptop.

What’s an AD card?
I take it you just meant to type SD.
I think that a USB3 Flash Pen drive or external SSD would yield faster transfers than the likes of a 256GB SD card, no?
The fastest of the cards states 95mb/s