(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.