What does scanning VST plugins actually mean?

Plug-in hosts and other software applications discussion
ejr
KVRist
158 posts since 31 Aug, 2001 from Cromer UK

Post Fri Aug 30, 2019 5:16 am

I hope this isn't a stupid question....
When a DAW starts it scans the VST's. What is the DAW software doing and why does it take so long?

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Forgotten
KVRAF
3344 posts since 15 Apr, 2019 from Nowhere

Re: What does scanning VST plugins actually mean?

Post Fri Aug 30, 2019 5:22 am

DAWs usually look for new plugins when they start up. If it’s taking a long time with yours, it could be that there’s an issue causing it to not remember those it has already scanned on previous start ups.

DarkStar
KVRAF
9186 posts since 2 Sep, 2003 from Surrey, UK

Re: What does scanning VST plugins actually mean?

Post Fri Aug 30, 2019 5:25 am

Or you might have lots of non-plug-in files in the folders that are being scanned. Preset files, sample libraries?
DarkStar
Interesting, if true ...

Xenakios
KVRian
1211 posts since 9 Sep, 2005 from Oulu, Finland

Re: What does scanning VST plugins actually mean?

Post Fri Aug 30, 2019 8:14 am

ejr wrote:
Fri Aug 30, 2019 5:16 am
What is the DAW software doing and why does it take so long?
It looks for new or modified plugin binary files. When it finds one, it loads the plugin and gathers information like plugin and developer name, whether the plugin is an instrument or an effect and so on. Because it needs to load the plugin to get that more detailed info, the scanning process may take a long time because plugins can be slow to load due to copy protection, loading audio files etc...Correctly working hosts should cache that information and avoid rescanning the plugins.

Like was mentioned above, just going through all the files in the plugin folders can itself become a slow thing if there's also a ton of audio files, presets or something like that in those folders. (Operating systems may have fast functions for searching only files of a certain type etc, but not all hosts may be using those functions.)

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Tj Shredder
KVRAF
3081 posts since 6 Jan, 2017 from Outer Space

Re: What does scanning VST plugins actually mean?

Post Fri Aug 30, 2019 2:00 pm

I never understood why this is done in advance. I would only scan it if I want to load a plug-in, then put that info into the data base to be able to load it faster next time. How often would that process block the program hanging on a specific incompatible plugin which I did not intend to use anyway. Its a stupid procedure which could easily made more convenient...!

chk071
KVRAF
21594 posts since 11 Apr, 2010 from Germany

Re: What does scanning VST plugins actually mean?

Post Fri Aug 30, 2019 2:04 pm

How would you be able to load a plugin in your host, if it doesn't scan the plugins in advance?

It also needs to re-scan the plugin, when you updated it.

How long does the plugin scan take in your host anyway? It always was a matter of seconds in the hosts i use.

No_Use
KVRAF
2392 posts since 13 Mar, 2004

Re: What does scanning VST plugins actually mean?

Post Fri Aug 30, 2019 2:20 pm

chk071 wrote:
Fri Aug 30, 2019 2:04 pm
How would you be able to load a plugin in your host, if it doesn't scan the plugins in advance?
By the DAW opening a file dialog which let's me browse to the plugin I want to load.

edit:
Or quicker, drag and drop dll's from Windows explorer onto tracks for eample.
Last edited by No_Use on Fri Aug 30, 2019 2:22 pm, edited 2 times in total.

chk071
KVRAF
21594 posts since 11 Apr, 2010 from Germany

Re: What does scanning VST plugins actually mean?

Post Fri Aug 30, 2019 2:21 pm

Ugh... thank god that Studio One has a plugin browser, and no file dialog where i have to browse to my plugin folder (including subfolders) every time...

No_Use
KVRAF
2392 posts since 13 Mar, 2004

Re: What does scanning VST plugins actually mean?

Post Fri Aug 30, 2019 2:36 pm

Of course plugin browser is more convinient and I wouldn't want to miss it too, I meant just as additional option to e.g. test a new plugin without having to rescan plugins folder.

chk071
KVRAF
21594 posts since 11 Apr, 2010 from Germany

Re: What does scanning VST plugins actually mean?

Post Fri Aug 30, 2019 3:11 pm

TBH, i don't see the point when the re-scanning of plugins only takes a few seconds anyway. YMMV.

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Tj Shredder
KVRAF
3081 posts since 6 Jan, 2017 from Outer Space

Re: What does scanning VST plugins actually mean?

Post Fri Aug 30, 2019 10:31 pm

chk071 wrote:
Fri Aug 30, 2019 3:11 pm
TBH, i don't see the point when the re-scanning of plugins only takes a few seconds anyway. YMMV.
An initial scan of my folders could take many minutes, very often I experienced a hang, one plugin blocked the whole process, then I would need to kill the host, find that plugin and remove it, redo the scan :repeat:
Bitwig can actually update their database on the fly. Throw a new plug in, and load it immediately, if it fails it will be listed as well...
I also never understood why devs don’t implement that as a background process...
I once updated Logic, and went off for a job on the country side, no internet, or extremely low speed... I opened Logic, and it insisted to download new content which I did not need for that job at all. I could not proceed, finally we drove to Lyon to the Apple store to complain, there it downloaded all of it within seconds...
Any bookkeeping process which isn’t crucial for the program to function must be either in the background or on demand or to be able to be canceled. Anything else is very bad design...

Obineg+
KVRer
4 posts since 8 Sep, 2019

Re: What does scanning VST plugins actually mean?

Post Sun Sep 08, 2019 1:52 pm

what does scanning mean?

well, scanning means loading: every plug-in in the search path will be loaded once to make sure it works.

I never understood why this is done in advance

when would you do it? before quitting? scanning it in advance to working in a program is its essence.

How often would that process block the program hanging on a specific incompatible plugin which I did not intend to use anyway

if you have 1000 plug-ins installed and you use 5 different hosts, do you really know all incompatibilities by heart?

if you would test a plug-in in a sandbox only when you load it for the first time, it will cost you time during creative work instead of prior.

scanning VST plug-ins has been introduced with nuendo 1.x on mac - because people requested it.
beside the testing for compatibility - dont you think it is cool to have a list of the VST specs of your tools around? where you for example can see if a plug-in supports midi or not, wether it is an instrument or not, and which ones support 5.1 and 7.1.?

the basic procedure with "scanning" is this:

install your host
install 1000 plug-ins
open your host
(now wait 3 minutes for scanning)
from now on use your host troublefree for the next few years.

where is the problem?

How would you be able to load a plugin in your host, if it doesn't scan the plugins in advance?

does microsoft word scans throught your word documents before you open one? of course not. it is the same with VST plug-ins. you open documents by, well, by opening documents.
scanning them in advance is a very special task which is rarely used.

I also never understood why devs don’t implement that as a background process...

because it would not make much sense to allow you to open coolsynth.vst when it doesnt work in this host anyway.

if you download and install NI komplete today you are busy with preparation for HOURS. the additional 45 seconds for scanning should not make a big difference.

stash98
KVRian
765 posts since 16 Feb, 2005 from tittyland

Re: What does scanning VST plugins actually mean?

Post Tue Sep 10, 2019 6:27 am

Studio One scans very slowly on startup for me. It goes over every plugin each time. Only DAW that does it slow for me.

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whyterabbyt
Beware the Quoth
27538 posts since 4 Sep, 2001 from R'lyeh Oceanic Amusement Park and Funfair

Re: What does scanning VST plugins actually mean?

Post Tue Sep 10, 2019 6:33 am

No_Use wrote:
Fri Aug 30, 2019 2:20 pm
chk071 wrote:
Fri Aug 30, 2019 2:04 pm
How would you be able to load a plugin in your host, if it doesn't scan the plugins in advance?
By the DAW opening a file dialog which let's me browse to the plugin I want to load.

edit:
Or quicker, drag and drop dll's from Windows explorer onto tracks for eample.
So, you'd prefer a much longer way round than having prepopulated, sorted, menus.
"The bearer of this signature is a genuine and authorised pope."

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GaryG
KVRAF
5778 posts since 13 Jan, 2003 from Kent, UK

Re: What does scanning VST plugins actually mean?

Post Tue Sep 10, 2019 7:19 am

Different DAWs definitely do the pre-scanning differently. Last time I tried the Tracktion demo it literally took 90 minutes to scan my plugins, Reaper could do it in four or five (this was before I had my epiphany and had ridiculous amounts of freeware etc installed...)

I always liked energyXTs way, didn't have a browser per se, just a folder tree of your plug in folder (which encouraged you to keep things organised :)) If you wanted to demo a plug you could just drop it on the workspace and only then would it load and scan it.
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