Doing A Fresh Install Of Win 10 After SSD Drive Upgrade-Best Approach To Reinstalling Progs/VSTs Etc...

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167 posts since 23 Dec, 2019

Post Wed Apr 07, 2021 5:32 pm

Apologies in advance, if I'm posting in the wrong forum.

I'm a noob at home recording, and made a mess of keeping track of all the plugins I've bought, and I'm an addict for freebies.

I realized a 500 gig SSD drive isn't big enough, so I'm upgrading to a 1 TB SSD, and intend do a fresh reinstall of Win 10, which means I'll have to reinstall my DAW, drivers to interfaces, and probably over 100 plugins, spread out over a dozen manufacturers.

I have over a dozen authorization managers. iLok gives me a nice menu of things associated with them, but I also have plenty of free VSTs I like. Does a utility exist that can give me an inventory of all my plugins? I can go to my DAW's (Waveform) VST browser and screenshot it, but I'm hoping there might be an easier way.

Any suggestions on "best practices" after a fresh reinstall? I haven't done this since Win XP, and I only had to worry about reinstalling my guitar interfaces and drivers, for the most part.

How about VST management? I've learned that the paths to them are all over the place. Has anyone made a "master" folder, and simply planted everything there?

I've learned how to put large sample libraries to an external SSD drive, still, I only have about 20 gigs free. Is a 1TB drive sufficient?

After the OS install, I'll get all the Win 10 updates, before installing anything. Then, I'll install the drivers for my hardware (lots of guitar interfaces). Then, the software.

Never having done this before, I'm sure I'm overlooking something. Any suggestions as to best proceed would be appreciated. I'm not looking forward to this at all...

I probably could simply clone the old SSD to the new one. If I don't do this now, I'm sure I'll be doing it soon, as I think my system is suffering from "OS decay."

Thanks, in advance.

Edit: FWIW, I'm upgrading on a retail laptop, a Dell Inspiron, i7, 32gigs ram.

2069 posts since 15 Feb, 2006 from Berkeley, CA

Post Tue Apr 13, 2021 10:13 am

If your system isn't borked/malware-ridden, and the intent is just to get more storage space I would recommend cloning/imaging the drive rather than a full manual re-install. In either case you may have to contact plugin vendors as a new SSD could register as a new machine ID. Regarding VST folder location - while you can customize and tell your DAW where to look, some company's installers won't let you put them in alternate locations (not an issue if you can just manually install .DLLs in a random folder).

I work in IT managing ~150 computers, servers, plus assorted cloud stuff. It's possible to automate all this if you're handy with PowerShell or use a tool like Windows AutoPilot, but that's its own learning curve.

1184 posts since 11 Jun, 2019

Post Tue Apr 13, 2021 10:23 am

Cloning May not work in some cases because the app may be registered to your HD serial.

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698 posts since 2 Sep, 2019

Post Tue Apr 13, 2021 3:18 pm

Before reinstalling Windows, first uninstall/deauthorize all of your software and plugins using their respective software managers to make sure you reclaim your licenses associated with your current desktop.

Once you've reinstalled Windows, create a text file and rename it to VSTPath.reg or something similar. Just make sure you change the file type to .reg

Paste this text into it and save it:
VST2Path.reg wrote: _________________________________


Double-click the reg file to import the entries into the Windows registry.

This will create a VST2 path in the Windows registry to a Vstplugins folder in the root of your C:\ drive, with one folder inside for 64-bit and one for 32-bit. If you want a different file path, edit the entries accordingly. Notice there are double \\ between levels.

Many plugin installers respect this path and will default to it.
(Some don't and will want to install to C:\Program Files\Steinberg anyways. Don't let them.)

Make sure your VST2 plugins are being installed to your new Vstplugins folder, and make sure it is set as your VST2 path in your DAW.

(VST3 plugins are all installed to C:\Program Files\Common Files\VST3 automatically, which you shouldn't mess with.)

A fresh install is a good time to cull your excessive plugins and software. Why reinstall something you don't use and don't need? It's actually a good time for some deeper self-reflection on your mixing practices and goals, and to formulate a more disciplined approach to how you work. Limit your tools to the ones you really need, and learn them inside and out.

Figure out if you use plugins to make music, or if you make music to use plugins. Either answer is fine, but be honest with yourself about it. Lots of people just like playing with audio software and collecting plugins, and don't much care what—if anything—they create with them. That's totally fine, and it's a lot better than playing video games. If that's your real purpose, then your approach to plugin collecting and management is going to be different than someone who uses music software solely because they have a burning desire to master the craft and create their musical opus.

Continuing on, open each song you have created and install any plugins that show as missing.
(Or you might want to go through each song and make a list of every plugin you use as the very first step BEFORE deauthorizing your plugins and reinstalling Windows if you don't trust this method.)

If a plugin doesn't show up in one of your songs, then you haven't used it and you probably never will. Try reinstalling only the plugins you actually use. Or go even further and try replacing your dynamics plugins with just a few core comps and EQs, instead of different ones on every track of every song. Most of those tasks can be done just as well with one or two really good plugins if you know how to use them. Do more with less, otherwise you end up doing less with more.

I've pared my plugins down to a few comprehensive effects/instruments bundles that have software managers, plus a handful of others that are part of my everyday workflow. It has made things a lot easier, and most importantly it helps keep me focused on the ends rather than the means.

Get the biggest drive you can, since SSDs are pretty cheap now. At least 2TB, and partition it to create a dedicated drive for files and/or audio. Save the installers of the plugins you install there. That will make this process a lot easier the next time around, if you have to reinstall Windows again in the future.

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