Strongly considering a total clean sweep and reinstall/reorganize of everything. Help
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Old 28-07-2017, 06:05 AM   #1
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Strongly considering a total clean sweep and reinstall/reorganize of everything. Help

I seem to be going through some kind of phase where I feel the need more than ever to completely remove all clutter and excess and disorganization from my life, leaving only exactly what I need. I've started with material possessions, and it feels amazing so far, but it's also daunting and tedious to the point of anxiety at times.

I'm about 5 years deep into an Asus laptop with Ableton. The elephant in the room every time I start a project is how damn messy my files are, and how much crap I just don't use. Samples, plugins etc.

What am I getting myself into if I hit that "factory reset" button in windows and begin rebuilding.

The good: every file where it belongs, only the carefully chosen essential plugins and samples, clean installs of every program and vst. And possibly an upgrade to an SSD

The bad: losing old projects, or causing issues with them. Locating serials and hoping they all still work properly, years lost off my lifespan due to immense stress of the process.

Have any of you done this? What was your experience like? Any regrets?

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Old 28-07-2017, 06:52 AM   #2
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Re: Strongly considering a total clean sweep and reinstall/reorganize of everything.

5 year old Asus laptop?
Buy a new one and save yourself the clean-up ball-ache.
It's only got 2 years max left anyway.
Why bother at this stage?
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Old 28-07-2017, 07:08 AM   #3
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Re: Strongly considering a total clean sweep and reinstall/reorganize of everything.

Recently did this on both of my computers - pc and mac. Having good backups of personal data is key. Exporting list of currently installed software is good so you can systematically add back what you want. Most software can be re-downloaded pretty easily. All my keys were in saved emails on gmail. Both were back up and running within the week. PC in one day, macbook in about a week.

Things were already pretty well organized to start with. This also makes it easier.
Instead of waiting to organize, throw everything somewhere safe and back it up if you can.
Then reset. Add things back at your leisure.

Mostly painless. But I do this every year or so on the windows machine. First time with the mac.
And no regrets. On either machine.

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Old 28-07-2017, 12:51 PM   #4
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Re: Strongly considering a total clean sweep and reinstall/reorganize of everything.

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Originally Posted by lolirl View Post
5 year old Asus laptop?
Buy a new one and save yourself the clean-up ball-ache.
It's only got 2 years max left anyway.
Why bother at this stage?
Why only 2 years left?
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Old 28-07-2017, 12:55 PM   #5
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Re: Strongly considering a total clean sweep and reinstall/reorganize of everything.

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Originally Posted by jcar View Post
Recently did this on both of my computers - pc and mac. Having good backups of personal data is key. Exporting list of currently installed software is good so you can systematically add back what you want. Most software can be re-downloaded pretty easily. All my keys were in saved emails on gmail. Both were back up and running within the week. PC in one day, macbook in about a week.

Things were already pretty well organized to start with. This also makes it easier.
Instead of waiting to organize, throw everything somewhere safe and back it up if you can.
Then reset. Add things back at your leisure.

Mostly painless. But I do this every year or so on the windows machine. First time with the mac.
And no regrets. On either machine.

Exporting the list of installed software is an excellent idea. Thanks for the reply. Little less nervous about it now
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Old 28-07-2017, 02:08 PM   #6
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Re: Strongly considering a total clean sweep and reinstall/reorganize of everything.

I had an HDD die on me this spring. I bought a SSD, started over from scratch, haven't looked back. I reinstalled all my go to stuff and am not really bothering with anything else. I havent' even hooked up one of my back up drives except to pull a few sample packs I use often.

I only have two unresolved issues--couldn't get MIDI to work properly on my old MOTU 828 MKII (work around, using my MOTU Express XT as a MIDI interface) and Elektron Overbridge has MIDI sync/transport issues. I just stopped using Overbridge. I guess a third issue is I haven't found out how to re-upgrade to Windows 10 for free.

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Old 28-07-2017, 03:40 PM   #7
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Re: Strongly considering a total clean sweep and reinstall/reorganize of everything.

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I had an HDD die on me this spring. I bought a SSD, started over from scratch, haven't looked back. I reinstalled all my go to stuff and am not really bothering with anything else. I havent' even hooked up one of my back up drives except to pull a few sample packs I use often.

I only have two unresolved issues--couldn't get MIDI to work properly on my old MOTU 828 MKII (work around, using my MOTU Express XT as a MIDI interface) and Elektron Overbridge has MIDI sync/transport issues. I just stopped using Overbridge. I guess a third issue is I haven't found out how to re-upgrade to Windows 10 for free.
Awesome. Really looking forward to that piece of mind and clarity you must have felt after a fresh start.

On a side note, I haven't upgraded to Windows 10. Any reason not to? I've still got the free upgrade I believe
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Old 28-07-2017, 05:16 PM   #8
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Re: Strongly considering a total clean sweep and reinstall/reorganize of everything.

It was rather nice tbh, I had already slimmed down my VSTs list in my DAW's menus so if it was going to happen, I was OK with it happening when it did in some regards.

I upgraded to Windows 10 with no issues, other people reported all kinds of little annoyances though I'm not sure I've heard of anyone's setup being totally destroyed.

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Old 28-07-2017, 05:17 PM   #9
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Re: Strongly considering a total clean sweep and reinstall/reorganize of everything.

I do this once every few months (or a year in between at the longest). Once, I even killed off 1TB+ of totally obscure cassette rips (many of which I recorded myself) and it was the best data-nuking decision I've made, because I now have more room for my own shit (which I also plan on nuking).

Your HDD is going to fail anyway, so it's good to stay in the practice of backing shit up and knowing where your resources are (activation codes, drivers, licenses, etc).

Do it, you'll thank yourself later

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Old 28-07-2017, 06:00 PM   #10
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Re: Strongly considering a total clean sweep and reinstall/reorganize of everything.

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I do this once every few months (or a year in between at the longest). Once, I even killed off 1TB+ of totally obscure cassette rips (many of which I recorded myself) and it was the best data-nuking decision I've made, because I now have more room for my own shit (which I also plan on nuking).

Your HDD is going to fail anyway, so it's good to stay in the practice of backing shit up and knowing where your resources are (activation codes, drivers, licenses, etc).

Do it, you'll thank yourself later

So true about the hard drive too. Im one of those people who think about it all the time, and know it's gonna happen, yet i don't back things up properly. I would be pretty devestated to lose it all right now, my life's worth of samples and music.
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Old 28-07-2017, 07:25 PM   #11
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Re: Strongly considering a total clean sweep and reinstall/reorganize of everything.

Use Ableton's 'Collect All and Save' feature to make folders for each track in a master folder, then zip/rar/compress the master folder and stick it on Dropbox or a USB stick or both or whatever. Compressing archives both saves space and means you're not hunting through 56 different subfolders when trying to restore things.

Nuke all your software and resinstall the newest versions. Anything you can possibly download shouldn't be saved.

Running
Get-ItemProperty HKLM:\Software\Wow6432Node\Microsoft\Windows\Curre ntVersion\Uninstall\* | Select-Object DisplayName, DisplayVersion, Publisher, InstallDate | Format-Table –AutoSize
in a PowerShell window will get you a quick list of installed stuff. You can pipe it to a file by adding
> C:\Documents\Installed.txt
at the end. Save that thing to Dropbox or a Google Doc or something online as well.

Do grab all the most current relevant drivers from ASUS and whoever else before you reformat and stick them on a USB stick with your Windows install. Makes getting up and running much easier (don't have to chance bootstrapping your wireless drivers).

Most all my audio software runs just fine under Windows 10, and I think it's a solid choice at this point. Win 7 is looking really long in the tooth these days. I'd vote going for the upgrade.

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Old 28-07-2017, 10:43 PM   #12
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Re: Strongly considering a total clean sweep and reinstall/reorganize of everything.

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Originally Posted by Artificer View Post
Use Ableton's 'Collect All and Save' feature to make folders for each track in a master folder, then zip/rar/compress the master folder and stick it on Dropbox or a USB stick or both or whatever. Compressing archives both saves space and means you're not hunting through 56 different subfolders when trying to restore things.

Nuke all your software and resinstall the newest versions. Anything you can possibly download shouldn't be saved.

Running
Get-ItemProperty HKLM:\Software\Wow6432Node\Microsoft\Windows\Curre ntVersion\Uninstall\* | Select-Object DisplayName, DisplayVersion, Publisher, InstallDate | Format-Table ľAutoSize
in a PowerShell window will get you a quick list of installed stuff. You can pipe it to a file by adding
> C:\Documents\Installed.txt
at the end. Save that thing to Dropbox or a Google Doc or something online as well.

Do grab all the most current relevant drivers from ASUS and whoever else before you reformat and stick them on a USB stick with your Windows install. Makes getting up and running much easier (don't have to chance bootstrapping your wireless drivers).

Most all my audio software runs just fine under Windows 10, and I think it's a solid choice at this point. Win 7 is looking really long in the tooth these days. I'd vote going for the upgrade.

Very helpful info. There are only a few projects I plan to keep, so I will try that out. Frankly I'm very pessimistic about them actually working again properly when I load everything back up, but it's gotta be done.

What do you mean about bootstrapping? Not familiar with the term. Definitely don't want any driver issues
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Old 28-07-2017, 11:43 PM   #13
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Re: Strongly considering a total clean sweep and reinstall/reorganize of everything.

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Originally Posted by Deep Dose View Post
Very helpful info. There are only a few projects I plan to keep, so I will try that out. Frankly I'm very pessimistic about them actually working again properly when I load everything back up, but it's gotta be done.
You could always render out stems of everything as well, so you could at least have some mix control if you don't get all the bits and bobs for the existing files. It'd be time consuming but safer.

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What do you mean about bootstrapping? Not familiar with the term. Definitely don't want any driver issues
Generally, bootstrapping means to work with your existing resources. It comes from an old saying about 'pulling yourself up by the bootstraps', which was a turn of phrase for a difficult task without outside help or something that results in a catch-22.

The problem here is how do you get drivers for your laptop's wireless without drivers for your laptop's wireless? You need to connect to the network to download the thing that will let you connect to the network...

Windows will bootstrap the device with it's own generic driver, which may or may not work. It's a non-issue if you have another computer and a USB stick, but it's safer to just download the latest version of the drivers and copy them somewhere convenient before starting over, rather than relying on Microsoft's generic drivers.

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Old 29-07-2017, 03:06 PM   #14
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Re: Strongly considering a total clean sweep and reinstall/reorganize of everything.

Honestly, I just nuked a bunch of old stuff. Basically anything that wasn't finished that had a last modified date of two years or older. I technically still have it on one of my RAID drives if I really wanna go back for it. Hanging on to those just because of samples. But seriously, besides for a few choice samples/packs I go back to again and again, I nuked all the free stuff as well.

Fuck it, man.

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Old 29-07-2017, 08:56 PM   #15
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Re: Strongly considering a total clean sweep and reinstall/reorganize of everything.

It is good to have a clean slate every once in a while.
I find that when you do recreate your DAW, choose the partition and folder structure wisely. Keep it neat and organized from the start.

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Old 29-07-2017, 09:21 PM   #16
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Re: Strongly considering a total clean sweep and reinstall/reorganize of everything.

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It is good to have a clean slate every once in a while.
I find that when you do recreate your DAW, choose the partition and folder structure wisely. Keep it neat and organized from the start.
This is one of the biggest things I look forward to. I tried to keep it relatively organized, but in hindsight there's things I'd like to change, and it's a headache after the fact if you don't wanna destroy old projects.

One thing I'd like to do is have folders for my plugins that show up properly in the Ableton browser, like "compressors" "reverbs" etc. Is that possible?
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Old 29-07-2017, 09:23 PM   #17
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Re: Strongly considering a total clean sweep and reinstall/reorganize of everything.

I should have mentioned I'm not completely formatting my drives, only doing windows "factory reset". My copy of windows came preinstalled so I think it's my only option short of buying windows.

Also, if I replace my secondary hard drive with an SSD, can I install Ableton entirely on that drive, or does the program have to be installed on the C drive?
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Old 29-07-2017, 09:49 PM   #18
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Re: Strongly considering a total clean sweep and reinstall/reorganize of everything.

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I should have mentioned I'm not completely formatting my drives, only doing windows "factory reset". My copy of windows came preinstalled so I think it's my only option short of buying windows.

Also, if I replace my secondary hard drive with an SSD, can I install Ableton entirely on that drive, or does the program have to be installed on the C drive?
I am pretty sure you can run a daw from a different. Drive than the os o. But I would only do it on a SSD otherwise it might be slow. You might be able to restore windows tot he ssd as well.

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Old 29-07-2017, 10:43 PM   #19
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Re: Strongly considering a total clean sweep and reinstall/reorganize of everything.

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I am pretty sure you can run a daw from a different. Drive than the os o. But I would only do it on a SSD otherwise it might be slow. You might be able to restore windows tot he ssd as well.
Ok definitely some things to look into further. I don't understand a whole lot about SSD, other than it writes slower but reads way faster (iirc). Perhaps it's all about saving all plugins and samples to the SSD and keeping the DAW on the HDD with the OS will be fine.
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Old 29-07-2017, 11:28 PM   #20
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Re: Strongly considering a total clean sweep and reinstall/reorganize of everything.

There should be a Certificate of Authenticity sticker somewhere on the laptop, usually on the bottom or in the battery compartment. That will have a Product Key you can use to activate the corresponding copy of Windows (Home, Pro, etc). You can use the general Windows installer that you download from Microsoft. That's not to say that you need to reinstall - a factory reset might do you just fine, but using the installer would allow you to put your OS on the SSD for better performance.

SSDs both read and write faster than standard hard drives, but are still slower than RAM. Without getting too technical, you're mainly concerned with things that are going to be either continuously read or written (ie recording audio) or things that are too big to be held in memory (large sample sets). Those situations will see the biggest performance boost from an SSD. Recording and playback from fast media means less chance for dropouts.

The only real performance boost you'll see from having the DAW on the SSD is how quickly it starts up. Most of it resides in memory once it's launched. But things like plugins and VSTs can benefit from being on the faster drive, include the ones that come with the DAW. They're not huge space hogs, so might as well toss it on the SSD.

Optimization depends on a lot of things, but very generally I'd put OS and programs (including your DAW), plugins and VSTs, and whatever tracks you're actually working on on the SSD. I'd archive tracks and keep samples on the other drive. If you have playback issues with specific samples, move them to a folder on the SSD. Mostly SSDs are large enough these day to just put everything on, as long as you occasionally clear off samples and tracks when you're done with them. Back when a 64GB SSD was considered large, you'd have to be a lot more careful about space.

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