Pro Tools Tip Of The Day:
Installing Pro Tools 8 (What Digidesign Doesn’t Tell You) Pt. 1

shattered drive.jpg

Today we are going to do our first lengthy article on the right way to install Pro Tools 8. This article is for users of HD, LE or M-Powered. As long as you are using Pro Tools on a very regular basis and it is something you spend a lot of time, the steps we are going to outline in this tip are very important, and will help you have a smooth-running system. My PT8 system is a worry-free machine and I attribute it to a proper, overly-cautious installation and going above and beyond what Digidesign asks for. I invest the time to do an install properly at the beggining so the system runs smoothly later on when I am being creative. Whether you use a Mac or a PC this will be an informative article. If you have already installed Pro Tools 8 and are having problems this could really help you get your system on track. Click the jump and we will start.

(Note: Please read this series start to finish before running this install, there is vital information that you will need to read in the future parts of this series)

Step 1: Get A New Hard Drive
(note: Some people get very appalled at this ((see comment below)) Digidesign has since endorsed this method after I wrote this article)
Pro Tools releases many new versions throughout the year. Anytime they make a big leap it is advisable to get a brand new hard drive. Whenever there is danger in plug-ins becoming obsoleted/in need of an upgrade (Pro Tools compatibility with a new OS, a new x.0 version), I make sure I get a fresh drive. I run the type of studio where a band will call a year later and need instrumentals, mix tweaks with a new singer, stems for a soundtrack etc. That being the case, I need to be able to recall their sessions the exact way they were. Pro Tools updates, from time to time, have tweaked their audio engine, AKA the sound of the whole program, this can be deadly to an old mix. By using a fresh new hard drive I am able to pop the old one back in to my system whenever I need to recall an old sessions and not worry about plug-ins not working, session translations etc.

The new drive will also help our systems stability. As we all know, after running a system for a long time it starts to get buggy and crash more. This usually facilitates the need for an Archive and Install via Apple’s OS DVD’s (more on that another time). If you start off with a fresh clean OS you will be able to get off to a smooth running start and not worry about crashes and bugs.

Now which drive should you buy? That’s a big question. Since your system drive will usually be holding reference music (iTunes), sample libraries and various installs. I recommend going BIG. Terabyte drives are super cheap these days and will leave room for you to grow. However, one thing to remember is that buying a large system drive requires to have an equal sized drive to back it up. NEVER FORGET: IF YOU DON’T HAVE A BACKUP IT DOES NOT EXIST!

Step 2: Install Your OS
You’re new hard drive will not come with an OS already installed on it. Let’s get started by installing a fresh OS on this drive. Once that is done, you will need to update to your latest OS version. However, the latest OS may not be compatible with PT8.
For a Mac you need a 10.5.5 Combo Update. For a PC you need Windows Vista Business or Ultimate Edition 32-bit OS Installation only.

Step 2.5 How Is Your RAM???
I, along with some of my other esteemed colleagues (the nicest title they have ever been called by me), have noticed that PT8 needs more RAM than previous versions to run fast. If you were experiencing slow performance or a struggling CPU with previous versions of PT, you are definitely in need of a RAM upgrade. OWC has amazing deals on RAM and the prices of RAM fall fast, so check often if you are considering an upgrade.

Step 3: Use A Migration Assistant
All of your iTunes, Documents, Preferences, Emails, etc. can all be ported over to your new OS install. The Apple OS asks you if you would like to do this when you start up. If you would simply put your old system drive in one of your SATA ports and choose that drive to migrate your settings. If you don’t have a spare SATA port OWC sells Firewire and USB based docks for them.
Step 4: Install Pro Tools 8
Pro Tools 8 is a paid upgrade. Once you pay for it you begin a HUGE download. If you do not have a solid, fast internet connection you are going to have a very long road ahead of you – a 5 GB long road. You also get some complimentary software like BFD Lite, Melodyne Essential, and Torq. In addition, you will need to download all of this stuff. There is the option to pay extra for a packaged version of this update if you are weary of long internet downloads. Once you install this software, open it up once and make sure it works. Once it’s finished you want to head over to Digidesign and see if there are any CS Updates. CS Updates fix the software bugs in the installations. This is an essential step and make sure you do not skip it. After a CS update, restart your computer and make sure your software starts up. If it does you are in a good shape! Pass go and head to part 2 of this series.   

Jesse Cannon is the editor of Musformation. He produces records at his studio Cannon Found Soundation. Follow him on Twitter at @JesseCannonMusF. For more info please visit his website.

  • Anonymous

    Holy crap is the above article a complete FARCE!!!
    If you own protools and are stupid enough to believe the above, then you should try running HD with a commodore 64.
    Its foolish crap and misinformation like the above that directs people who don’t know/understand in the wrong direction.
    The fact that you wrote a part 2 means that you are two things- a digidesign certified recording school graduate who wears the hat that says so, and you do NOT have a real job engineering.
    Its fun to pretend on the internet huh!
    Buy new hard drives… Jesus christ. Moron.

  • Jesse Cannon

    I might want to point you to this link where Digidesign agreed with me. I would work on your Internet anger management skills.
    As far as my credentials, I have worked for the last 10 years as a fulltime booked in advance engineer and the only Pro Tools degree I have is using it since Pro Tools III and owning 5 systems that I have worked on everyday for 10 years.
    Plz read the below link

  • BradG

    Wow. Whatup with that Anonymous? The only sin Mr. Cannon may have made in this article is not saying something like, “If you are a professional, you should seriously consider using a new hard drive.”
    I installed everything on a new drive (before I ever came across this article) because I new that some plugs would not be compatible, mainly due to the big, OS upgrade needed. He’s dead on with his reasoning and I’m sure that anyone else who relies on Pro Tools for a living did the same thing for the same reasons.

  • Franks

    Keeping an image of your old PT on an old drive is not a bad idea — but for one gotcha. Digidesign makes you surrender your old PT 7.x license before you can use 8.
    So, if the older license is gone, how would you go back to running any previous sessions?

  • Steve

    I had a problem going back to the older version of Pro tools because several plug ins required me to surrender my old license as a condition of updating to a newer license. My old sessions opened up, but I was prompted to authorize those plugs, thus rendering my back up plan less than useful. However, Pro Tools 8 has worked thus far after installing as per the article.

  • Jesse Cannon

    That License is backwards compatible! So you are good to go!

  • steve bucino

    I assisted Jesse on a session in 2003 or 2004. He is part of the reason why I am a full time salaried and working freelance engineer today. He was fluent in pro tools then and I’m sure he is still just as sought after now. Redundancy is always a good thing. The criticism is way off base. Enjoy your crashes.