Over the last ten years, I have kept every single Pro Tools Session stored on an archive hard drive. These are Pro Tools Sessions that I have worked on professionally and received payment for. I have thousands of Pro Tools Sessions that span old versions of Pro Tools 7 (.ptf) through to current Pro Tools 12 (.ptx) session formats. I've kept every single project because:
- It is not uncommon for clients to contact me after a year or so requesting mix revisions or stems for remixing.
- It is a great pool of mix ideas. If I want to get "that sound" from "that song" then I simply open up that old Pro Tools session and save out the plug-in settings.
- Clients can lose mixes & masters. I charge clients a small one off rate per song retrieval. I call this my Project Backup System. My clients are made fully aware of this service when they work with me. I don't charge for storage but I do charge my clients for this service when they actually need me to find their files. I've never had a client complain, in fact, they are delighted to find out that I've kept their work for 6+ years.
Those are the main reasons why I keep all my Pro Tools Sessions. This article lists a handful of problems that I encounter from time to time when I open old Pro Tools sessions (Pro Tools 7 - 10) in more current versions of Pro Tools 11/12.
If you look for the Pro Tools Plug-in folder you will find a Plug-ins (Unused) Folder.
Pro Tools 11 & 12
OSX: Macintosh HD/Library/Application Support/Avid/Audio/Plug-Ins
Windows: C:\Program Files\Common Files\Avid\Audio\Plug-Ins
Make good use of this folder. Plug-ins that you no longer use should be moved to the Plug-in Unused folder. Years ago, I used to trash my unused plug-ins. That was a silly thing to do as those trashed plug-ins were used on past sessions that I forgot about. The problem with trashing plug-ins is that one day an old session will need to be reopened only to find that some plug-ins are missing from the system that were important to the mix.
Luckily, Pro Tools flags this upon loading a session. There are two ways of getting around this if you have trashed plug-ins from the Pro Tools root plug-in folder:
- Find the missing plug-in online and reinstall
- Find an alternative way of getting "that sound" with a different plug-in
Dead Instrument Tracks
This is a very common Pro Tools bug on my system. This bug is so common that I expect at least one instrument track to be greyed out when I open any old Pro Tools session that is over a certain age (Pro Tools 10 era).
I have no idea what causes the instrument track bug and I don't expect it'll ever be fixed. The dead instrument track appears as though the track has been made inactive, but this is not the case - see image above.
The only workaround I have for this is to make a new Instrument Track, copy the Virtual Instrument Plug-in (Alt - mouse click > drag) to the top Insert point of the new Instrument Track, copy the MIDI Clip(s) to the new Instrument Track and match the pan/fader level. I am certain this is a Pro Tools bug as the problem occurs with many third party Virtual Instruments from brands such as Native Instruments, UVI, AIR Instruments & Toontrack.
Random crashes in my Pro Tools system have become quite rare in new sessions created in Pro Tools 12.6 or later. I find random crashes happen quite regularly when loading older .ptf sessions and even early Pro Tools 10 .ptx sessions in current versions of Pro Tools. These crashes can occur because:
- A selection of forgotten plug-ins are out of date
- A possible corruption in an audio file or session file is causing a conflict
There have been a number of old sessions that will not even load up past the Pro Tools Mix and Edit windows. In these cases, I hold down Shift on my keyboard while the session is loading, this Makes Inactive all the plug-ins in the session. If the session opens with all the plug-ins inactive then at least I can gain access the raw stems and tracks.
If I encounter random crashes while working in a session I File > Save Copy In... the session and select every component of the session to be rebuilt into a fresh project and folder. Alternatively, File > Create New and File > Import > Session Data can be used.
Bad Mix Prep & Session Layout
This problem isn't caused by technology or software, instead, it was caused my myself many years ago at a time when I didn't value mix prep or session layout workflows. I find it very embarrassing when I load an old session with poorly named tracks, no colour coding, no order to layout & no memory locations... the list goes on and it was me that left the session in that state. Ensure what you layout your sessions in a clean and professional way, if not for others... do it for yourself.
What Problems Do You Have When Opening Old Pro Tools Sessions?
I've listed the most common challenges I face when opening old Pro Tools sessions, If you encounter problems when loading old Pro Tools sessions then please share yours in the comments below.