Digital audio workstations (DAWs) require a lot of processing power and memory. When the program begins to reach the limits of your CPU power or RAM, there is a risk that the program may crash.
If you want to avoid losing your hard work when using Pro Tools, you should keep the program from running out of CPU power. There are several ways to help ensure that Pro Tools has enough resources to reduce the risk of crashes.
Double-Check the Minimum System Requirements
Avid lists minimum system requirements for Mac and Windows computers. No matter which operating system you use, you should have at least 16GB of RAM, 15GB of hard disk space, and an Intel Core i5 Processor or comparable processor from AMD.
If your computer does not meet one of these requirements, you should consider upgrading your computer. Upgrading the processor may be the most expensive option. In fact, if your processor is outdated, it is often more cost-effective to purchase a new computer.
Upgrading the RAM may offer a cheaper solution. While 16GB of RAM is the minimum requirement, Avid recommends at least 32GB.
You should also make sure that you have more than enough disk space. While you need 15GB of hard drive space for installation, you should keep at least 20% of your hard disk space free.
If you have a 1TB hard drive, you should keep at least 200GB free. This helps with disk read/write speeds and sometimes reduces the risk of random program crashes.
Close All Programs Before Running Pro Tools
Whether you upgrade your computer or not, you should close all programs before running Pro Tools. Close your Internet browser and any other unnecessary programs running in the background.
With some web browsers, the browser continues to run in the background after you close the open windows. For example, to fully close Google Chrome, you may need to expand the hidden icons box in the right corner of the taskbar and right-click on the Chrome icon.
Keep all programs closed while running Pro Tools. If you need to check your email or search the Internet, you can use your phone or tablet.
Choose a Lower Sample Rate and Bit Depth
Besides making changes to your computer, you can make changes to your Pro Tools settings. Consider using a lower sample rate and bit depth to use fewer resources on your computer.
While you may prefer to use 88.2 kHz sample rates before down-sampling to 44.1 kHz, the higher sample rate requires more processing power and RAM. You also need more disk space. The program is more prone to crash when trying to save larger files.
You can produce high-quality audio with a 44.1 kHz or 48 kHz sample rate. You may also want to choose a 16-bit depth for your files.
Using a lower sample rate and bit depth may be a necessary sacrifice if you do not want to upgrade your RAM or you continue to experience performance issues.
Update Your Graphics and Network Adapter Drivers
An outdated driver for your graphics card can eat resources, taking CPU power from other programs such as Pro Tools. If you want to optimize your computer for Pro Tools, you should make sure that the graphics driver is updated.
On a Windows computer, open the Device Manager from the Control Panel. Expand the Display Adapters section and double-click on your graphics card. You should see several tabs, including the Driver tab.
On the Driver tab, write down the driver version number and date. You can then visit the official website for your graphics card manufacturer and find the latest driver download.
Compare the version numbers to determine if you have the latest version. If you do not have the latest version, download and install it.
You may also experience slowdowns when using an outdated network adapter driver. An outdated driver may force the Ethernet controllers to utilize extra processing power.
Follow the same steps to determine if you have the latest driver for your network adapter. Open the Device Manager, find your network adapter, and open the properties dialog box to view the driver version.
You should not need to update drivers on a Mac computer. However, Avid does recommend that you turn off the Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity before running Pro Tools on a Mac computer.
Change Processor Scheduling on Windows Computers
Another optimization technique is to change the processor scheduling. This is an option for Windows PCs that is available under the Advanced System Settings.
Click on the Performance tab of the Advanced System Settings and then click on the Settings button.
You should then see a Performance Options dialog box with several tabs. Click on the Advanced tab and look for the “Processor Scheduling” section. Click on the Background Services option and click “Apply”. After closing these windows, restart your computer.
By adjusting the processor scheduling, you may allow Pro Tools to run more efficiently.
Disable Various Settings on Your Mac Computer
Mac computers have their own set of optimization techniques that require you to disable various settings. As mentioned, you should disable Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. You should also disable FireWire Networking and FireVault protection.
These options are available under the System Preferences setting. To disable the FireWire Networking, click on Network and look for the FireWire section. To disable FireVault protection, click on Security and Privacy.
Last Thoughts on Dealing with Pro Tools Performance Issues
When Pro Tools drains the resources on your computer, it may crash or freeze. To deal with these issues, you should try to optimize your PC or upgrade the RAM.
An alternative option is to lower the sample rate and bit depth of your audio projects. Using a 176.4 kHz sample rate requires a lot more processing power compared to a 44.1 kHz sample rate. You may even want to switch from 24-bit depth to 16-bit.
If you follow these steps and Pro Tools continues to drain CPU power and occasionally crash, it may be time to consider purchasing a new computer.
The latest Pro Tools recommends 32GB or more of RAM. You should also have at least an Intel Core i5 Processor. Choosing a Core i7 processor and 32GB to 64GB of RAM may give you the processing power to keep Pro Tools running smoothly.