New Daw Build & HD Setup



Hi Everyone,

Finally getting ready to start on the new build and have a few questions regarding HD setup and Win XP Pro install. I feel comfortable with the actual hardware build itself, but I could use some advice on the HD setup and making sure I install Win XP Pro & Drivers/Updates properly.

1) Is it best to only install the One IDE HD and then go back and add the Two SATA HD's after the Win XP Pro install and things are running stable?

2) What size partitions do you recommend for my HD setup? The 80GB IDE will be used for OS & Programs and I plan to do a Dual Boot. I also purchased Ghost 9 & Partition Magic 8 to help with the new build. Since I'm new at this can you please give a few details on how you would do it. I plan to format my HD's to NTFS, but notice some folks also use FAT32 with Ghost. I'm still reading and trying to make sure I understand Ghost the FAT32 partition bit.

3) Basically the same question as 2, but in regards to the Two SATA 250GB HD's. The one HD will be used for Samples and the other HD for Audio. Is it best to keep all Samples on one partiton or is it better to keep BFD on one partition and DFHS on another?

4) Any advice for Win XP Pro SP2 install and any other hot fixes and drivers that I might need to download? I've never used Win XP Pro and switching from Mac OS X, so this will probably be a trip of its own for me. I have another PC with Win 98 that I use occassionally, so I'm not a total newbie with MS Windows only at DAW building. :D

Any other tips and suggestions much appreciated!

Thanks! JD...

Here is the List of Parts:

Evercase ECR9400B 4U Rack Case
Antec TP2 550W PSU
Gigabyte K8NS Ultra 939 Mobo
AMD X2 4400+ CPU
ATI 9600XT Video Card
WD 80GB PATA for OS/Programs
WD 250GB SATA for Samples
WD 250GB SATA for Audio
Plextor PX-716A DVD/CD
Samsung Floppy Drive
Windows XP Pro SP2
RME Fireface 800 Firewire Audio Interface
Software - Sonar5, Project 5 V2, BFD, and DFHS.


Well-Known Member
Mar 24, 2005
Why must you make $*^t so complicated?

XP is easy, install it, let it do it's update thing.

Get all your device drivers beforehand.

Dual boot is evil. 1 drive for system, 1 drive for audio, 1 for samples. End of story. No partitions.


It's my nature. :)

Don't want to make it complicated and I respect your opinion and appreciate the info. I was under the impression having partitions was a good thing in case of a crash. I've also heard it's easier to maintain OS for optimal performance and allows for quicker defrags, since you don't have to defrag the whole HD.

A lot of folks like to have a dual boot to keep their DAW seperate from everyday computer use. I guess it would be best to have two seperate PC's for this purpose, but that may not be the case for some of us.

That's good to know XP is easy to install and I'll remember to download all drivers before I get started.

I'm hoping others will post with their experiences as well.

Thanks, JD...


Well-Known Member
Sep 26, 2005
I run Windows XP Pro with service pack one and not 2! Most drivers are already within XP that you will need. I do not partition my recording hard drives. I reformat them with every new project.

Yes load Windows first and once loaded then you can add your serial ATA drives. Not everything works properly under service pack 2. You only need that for the added security. Service pack 1 is better for recording applications. Don't use the same computer to surf the Internet. Buy yourself a used Pentium III 500 for that. It's adequate for surfing purposes. If you're going to want a dual-boot system, use a separate hard drive for the other operating system.

I have to go XP in the bathroom
Ms. Remy Ann David


Well-Known Member
Feb 10, 2001
XP SP 2 is perfectly fine. there is nothing (in the last few yrs) that doesnt work with it.

we have been shipping it for the last 6 months at least.

dual boot is fine if you think you must. hoever if you get a boot sector virus on the "general" boot it will also eat your audio boot.

about the only thing a general boot os good for is keeping spyware off the Audio boot. and even some of those will cross over.



Well-Known Member
Dec 20, 2004
ADK audio said:

dual boot is fine if you think you must. hoever if you get a boot sector virus on the "general" boot it will also eat your audio boot.

about the only thing a general boot os good for is keeping spyware off the Audio boot. and even some of those will cross over.


Does this just apply to a single harddrive partitioned for dual-boot, and can having two separate boot drives be safer?


Thanks for the replies and all your help! I've been busy and hope to get everything together this weekend. I'm not sure if I'll go the dual-boot or not, but it's good to know the options.

Good to see you Scott. I ended up with the Gigabyte K8NS Ultra 939 after all. It looks like a nice mobo and I'm looking forward to getting the new DAW up and running.

Thanks, JD...


Well-Known Member
Nov 21, 2005
Hi all.
I'm relatively new here, but have been lurking for quite a while.

While this subject is relatively fresh, I have some questions about formatting audio drives.

Do any of you set the cluster sizes to a certain size, or do you all just let them default? Would setting them slightly larger for more linear type recordings that create larger continuous files be better? I realize that at some point there would be a trade off depending on how many tracks must be accessed. For instance, if the cluster sizing was too large, the heads may spend a bit TOO much time on each to smoothly get to the next. On the other hand, if they are too small (say 4KB), wouldn't that scatter, say, a 5MB track all over the place eventually, thus causing the little heads to bounce around much, much more, thus possibly shortening the life of a hard drive? Also, how much access time to find more clusters is added, if any, and is that a consideration?
I also believe that resizing the clusters MAY need to be balanced by other tweaks in buffers, latency and other settings?

Of course, if you are recording a lot of snippets, punch ins, etc., perhaps a smaller size would be better? And perhaps a drive dedicated to samples would benefit from a completely different size, depending on the samples' sizes?

Allow me to use a hypothetical example. (Please pay no attention to actual numbers...this is just for demonstration). Let's say I might normally record around 10-20 tracks, all the way through each. Say I have sized at 32KB, and everything's fine up until the 17-18 tracks. Perhaps more RAM would help, but, say, I already have the RAM maxed at 2GB.
Is it possible that the hard drive is spending TOO much time on each cluster, the buffers, RAM, whatever..are being backed up...or is it actually waiting too long to flow smoothly? The hard drive has had time to get through 16 tracks smoothly, but those later tracks are not getting accessed because it's spending too much time of the earlier tracks...and it can't progress until it goes through them?

Perhaps resizing to, say, 16KB would help that? It's going to (theoretically) double the number of clusters to get thrown around that each track occupies, at half the size each, but it will then be able to run through each a bit quicker to get to another one? But, it also has to search and access double the number of them, which, in itself, takes a bit of time.

My thinking is that the less a hard drive has to jump around, the fewer the chances of hiccupping, and the less stress that drive will encounter, thus lengthening its life.

So, is this too much obsessing? Is this a legitimate concern? Do any of you
concern yourself with this, and how and why do you set yours, if so?

I'm sure I'll get some answers that say that today's hard drives, in a fast computer, with enough fast RAM, tweaked properly render this subject pretty much obsolete. Please don't beat me up too much :? I'm just wondering.

Kapt. Krunch


I'm bumping this because I, too, would like to know the answer to these questions.


Jan 23, 2006
Most people don't have a problem with the 4k cluster size so if you have got it there is no use in reformatting the drive.

If you are setting up a new, pure audio, drive I would choose 64k cluster size. Any audio file recorded will be a lot larger than 64k. But remember that even if you add some kind of text file that is just 2k large it will still use 64k for storage. So keep audio only on the drive.