Top 5 Pro Tools Cripplers And How To Fix Them

When your Pro Tools system gets sluggish or repeatedly crashes, sometimes the simplest thing can fix the problem. Just upping the computer’s RAM will often help but there are also deeper, hidden features that can get your rig humming along like a bullet train. I invite you to participate and add your own entries in the comments section.

The Problem: When using Virtual Instruments on a multi-core computer, Pro Tools may give you buffer errors saying it playbackengine1.gifis running out of processing power even if no other plugins are in use.
The Fix: Go to the Setup/Playback engine pulldown and set the number of RTAS / HOST processors to 3 instead of 4 (Mac Pro Quad Core). If using a Dual Core or a PPC system, reduce the number of RTAS / HOST processors to 1. This works on LE, M-Powered and HD systems.

The Problem: Apple’s Spotlight is a great way to find data on your computer but it can make your whole system sluggish spotlight.gifif not properly set up.
The Fix: Go To Apple System Preferences under the Apple symbol at the upper left side of your monitor. Find the Spotlight option and limit the search index to only the most important categories. Not only Pro Tools but your whole system will run better.

The Problem: Plugins with streaming ability can bog down your system bringing your session to a halt.
The Fix: New with Pro Tools 8, the plugin streaming buffer can help content stream more efficiently from the disk. Go to the Setup/Playback engine pulldown and adjust the buffer size to find the best setting. Also try turning on the “optimize for streaming content� box to enhance performance.

The Problem:
Some wildly capable plugins such as AmpliTube Fender from IK Multimedia are DSP hogs and become cpu-usage.gifsluggish with minimal use.
The Fix: Go to the Setup/Playback engine pulldown and reduce the CPU Usage Limit to  60% or less. This will give your system the power it needs to run DSP-intensive plugins smoothly.

The Problem: Pro Tools preference files, database files, DAE files and AMS setup files can become corrupted bringing database-helper4.gifdown your system in short order.
The Fix: Rather than deleting these hidden files yourself, download the free Pro Tools Preference and Database Helper from It easily removes a variety of elusive, damaged and unreadable files that can cripple your system. Versions are available for Pro Tools systems on 10.4 (Tiger), 10.5 (Leopard) but not yet for 10.6 (Snow Leopard) and Pro Tools 8.0.3.

Thanks go out to Pro Tools power user Sean Conkling for helping with this post

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