If your Pro Tools system is prone to crashes and stops then it may be down to a bad plug-in.
Bad plug-ins come in all shapes and sizes, here are the most common.
- Out of date
I’ll deal with how to fix them in a second, but I recently had to figure out which of my 270 plug-ins was causing Pro Tools to keep falling over. Now I know what some of you are thinking… 270 plug-ins, isn’t that a tad excessive? It is and the downside of being a reviewer, but many of our team have the same issue. However, there are plenty of people who have that many plug-ins - the merits of which I’ll leave for the rest of you to decide.
Now, there is no shortcut to figuring out which plug-in may be crashing your system, this is how you do it.
- Create a folder on your desktop (or somewhere safe) and then drag all the plug-ins from your plug-ins folder to the new folder for safe-keeping. This is further complicated by the fact that you will have both an Avid and Digidesign folder, so there’s a few places to look.
- On a Mac you can find them in
- HD/Library/Application Support/Avid/Audio/Plug-Ins
- HD/Library/Application Support/Digidesign/Plug-Ins
- On a 64bit Windows OS eg Win7 x64
- RTAS plugins live in:
- C:\Program Files (x86)\Common Files\Digidesign\DAE\Plug-Ins
- AAX Plugins live In:
- C:\Program Files (x86)\Common Files\Avid\Audio\Plug-Ins
- Plugin Settings for both formats live in:
- C:\Program Files (x86)\Common Files\Digidesign\DAE\Plug-In Settings
- For Windows users the easiest way to get there is to use the “Open RTAS or AAX Plugins Folder” button on Trasher 10, which saves all the browsing and also allows you to backup the settings.
- Now if your Pro Tools won’t even launch then it is slightly easier to determine the culprit/s… simply drag them in and see if you can get Pro Tools to launch.
- I was speaking to my friend Jeff Bloom of Synchroarts (a lot smarter than me) who gave me a very cool way of getting through that number quick. Now you maths geeks will say “of course” but for the other mere mortals here is the fast way.
- Split your plug-ins into two groups. Drag one half of that group back to your plug-in folder and see if your system launches, if it does, then pull them back out and try the other half - it should crash. If it does than divide the remaining group in half again and repeat the process until you find the culprit.
I am reliably informed, but not smart enough to do the math, that irrespective of the amount of plug-ins you have, that you should find the culprit in around 8 moves - not of course accounting for those with low plg-in counts. I’m smart enough to realise that if you have 7 plug-ins then you can do it in less than 8 moves.
The task is made easier by using plug-ins purchased from reputable companies - this assumption proved true by me starting the process with those vendors such as Sonnox, McDSP, Izotope, Softube etc. and not finding a crash.
- If your Pro Tools launches and still you have buffer errors or crashes then you have the task of going through everys single plug-in one at a time by dropping it back into the folder and then launching Pro Tools and inserting it into a session to see if it crashes.
After a day dealing with this stuff, here are some ways to keep your Pro Tools system in tune and trouble free.
- Keep your plug-ins up to date. Check on vendor sites for updates.
- Don’t use cracks - I’m not going to get into the ethics here, but to get plug-ins to work by circumventing the protection means they have been re-engineered. Therefore you can’t expect them to work as intended. If your system keeps crashing and you have cracks then it may be this.
- Remove plug-ins you don’t use - for most of us, that may be over 50% of the plug-ins you own!
I hope these tips, born out of a frustrating few days last week, help if you are having issues with your system.