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Hey all,

Quick question: can you save your VST samples on a thumb drive/flash drive instead of having to buy an external SSD drive. Or is the external drive faster/better for the purpose.

I just realized I have two or three flash drives sitting around and was wondered if I could use them for VST samples instead of plopping down money on a new external drive. Is this possible? I figured I’d check in with the experts. Thanks.

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Test their read and write speed (use free CrystalDiskMark, for example). I never did because my experience is that flash drives are ssslowwwww, and there is no point in testing it. Whenever i copy anything to a thumb drive, it takes more time than to an old usb HDD. But I have no idea why (maybe different write protocols?) and if there are faster thumb drives.

Last edited by vagfilm; 06/15/22 03:34 PM.
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Don't use a thumb drive.

A lot of people here report excellent VI performance with external SSDs, sometimes better than with internal SSDs! You can search the forums here to find models that worked well with VIs.

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Thumb drive: very very bad idea, don't do it.

1. Transfer time much slower, maybe 1 to 10
2. Prone to errors, life span much less than an SSD

Please don't do it, you'll regret . . . With external SSD staring at 50/60 & no reason not to use one . . . .

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Taushi Offline OP
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Thanks all! Just picked up an SSD instead!

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usb shares bandwidth, and has alot less of it vs internal pipes.

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I use a thumbdrive for older versions of Pianoteq, like for the Steinway on version 4.5. There seems to be no problem.


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Originally Posted by peterws
I use a thumbdrive for older versions of Pianoteq, like for the Steinway on version 4.5. There seems to be no problem.
Pianoteq doesn’t use the disk (excepted when loading it), then there are no performance issue like with sampled VST which load files during the whole performance.


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Originally Posted by KawaFanboi
usb shares bandwidth, and has alot less of it vs internal pipes.
It's true and internal SSDs should be the best performers. But you will see plenty of PW world members finding good results with external SSDs.

VIs are black boxes!

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Originally Posted by KawaFanboi
usb shares bandwidth, and has alot less of it vs internal pipes.

I’d like to update the internal SSD if I could, but unfortunately, last I checked it and the RAM are not removable/upgradeable. So I’m stuck with what I’ve got; about 500 GB. It’s ok, but for the VSL instruments, which are what I use, just one piano eats up the bulk of that pretty quickly.

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what's the model of the pc.

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It’s a false dichotomy.

Some external USB/ thumb drives have SSD inside them.

E.g:
Samsung T7 Touch Portable SSD 500GB - Up to 1050MB/s (write speed) - about USD $50-60.

To be honest: you’d have to be ultra poverty-stricken to purchase anything slower than that! (For any purpose - not just VSTs)

Last edited by Burkey; 06/16/22 09:29 PM.

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Not a false dichotomy. internal pcie lanes for ssd are direct to CPU, usb has to go through a hub and then "maybe" a pch, then cpu. if latency is of concern, there are very good reasons not to use usb.

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Originally Posted by KawaFanboi
Not a false dichotomy. internal pcie lanes for ssd are direct to CPU, usb has to go through a hub and then "maybe" a pch, then cpu. if latency is of concern, there are very good reasons not to use usb.
What VST requires faster than 1000Mb/second?


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going through a usb hub and pch can add significant latency, and spikes of which are sporadic, it's not only about bandwidth.

Last edited by KawaFanboi; 06/16/22 11:25 PM.
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I thought VSTs buffer the key attack samples into RAM? I.e. latency is not as important as you think.

And regardless: the topic is external SSD vs thumb drive- nothing to do with internal SSD.

Last edited by Burkey; 06/17/22 12:26 AM.

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There are a few considerations here.

First, usually the marketing folks only highlight the peak performance, the sustained performance is often (much) lower, no matter the device. Especially for write operations as writing is still much slower in flash memories than reading.

Second, this Samsung seems to be a real SSD, so I guess (*) several architectural enhancements are used to obtain high performance: a decent internal microcontroller with very optimized firmware, reasonable amount of RAM cache, paralleling access of the flash memories in relatively wide internal bus, not to mention the use of multilevel bit storage, pretty common nowadays for cost reasons but that has the R/W access speed advantage byproduct.

Third, the USB 3.x interface have a pretty high transfer speed, as it has additional high speed differential lines. This Samsung uses USB type C connector, so there up to four high speed differential lines so the data is split between them and thus potential transfer speed is pretty high. There are no hubs involved for some or all of these ports, in modern hardware, AFAICT. Other high speed interfaces (e.g. Thunderbolt, HDMI) are supported by the type C USB, but I guess the USB 3.x is used.

OTOH, conventional, cheap USB sticks (even good quality ones) have more limited capabilities. Those limitations, more than the USB hub itself may limit the transfer bandwidth.

Just out of curiosity, I just made a little experiment, I copied a relatively big (4GB) file from a USB 3.x thumb drive (Sandisk - 3 or 4 years old) to the SSD of my laptop (6 or 7 years old), and the transfer speed was 127MBytes/s according to Windows. Pretty decent, I think a read only transfer such as streaming from stored samples would be even faster. So... maybe, MAYBE, an external USB 3.x flash drive of decent quality could work, depending on how the USB 3.1 port is routed inside the PC. However, unlike the copy operation of big files that is sequential, the streaming of samples may be random so, again, internal limitations of the drive may cause a lower transfer speed, despite the read-only nature of it.


(*) I do not follow the details of IT technology stuff nowadays as I used to when I was young, though I develop technology myself in a different, more fun (IMO) area.

Originally Posted by Burkey
It’s a false dichotomy.

Some external USB/ thumb drives have SSD inside them.

E.g:
Samsung T7 Touch Portable SSD 500GB - Up to 1050MB/s (write speed) - about USD $50-60.

To be honest: you’d have to be ultra poverty-stricken to purchase anything slower than that! (For any purpose - not just VSTs)

Last edited by EVC2017; 06/17/22 06:46 AM.

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Originally Posted by EVC2017
Third, the USB 3.x interface have a pretty high transfer speed, as it has additional high speed differential lines. This Samsung uses USB type C connector, so there up to four high speed differential lines so the data is split between them and thus potential transfer speed is pretty high. There are no hubs involved for some or all of these ports, in modern hardware, AFAICT. Other high speed interfaces (e.g. Thunderbolt, HDMI) are supported by the type C USB, but I guess the USB 3.x is used.

Not all, but many computers use hub chips. the pch is itself a usb hub, but I've seen implementations where there are extra break outs on the mobo either for special power delivery considerations or due to layout. not all usb c port implementations are direct pcie lanes. going through the pch can also cause latency problems which have nothing to do with bandwidth. I have a computer where if you max out the gigabit ethernet, it causes latency on storage, because that pipe shares bandwidth, despite not using anywhere near the total of even 1x lane.


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