To trash or not to trash... It's your preference!

Pro Tools 2019

To trash or not to trash... It's your preference!

Written by Luke Truan

February 2019

Ready to Go...Well Almost

You have probably heard about the end of support for Windows 7. As a result of the Windows 7 EOL, I recently purchased a new computer (composer rig) to compose music. This new computer is, of course, running Windows 10 Pro x64 bit which requires other software to be purchased as well. If you've ever bought a new computer, your purchasing does NOT stop after you by the actual computer! LOL.

However, what an exciting time! A new composer rig! Of course, I got to work right away and moved all my files over, and installed all the hardware, software, and instruments that were on the previous computer.  The hardware...ha! That is a story for another time!

Everything is ready to go. So, I begin by opening the new music project that I'm working on and get back to work. All is going well, the instruments sound amazing, and system resources are more than enough (unlike in the previous system). The previous system only had 16 GB of RAM and the new computer has 64 GB of RAM! The project was saved to the hard drive with no issues. I also have auto-save turned on and I'm in a habit of using the Ctrl+S command to save. So, I thought all was well, but wait... there's more! :) 

I closed the session and the instruments begin to unload and the Pro Tools stalls. I see the "Blue Circle of Death" (BCOD), that is what I called it anyway. If you are not familiar with this BCOD, it does not mean that the entire system is crashing, this is when software is stalling/crashing. Usually, not an issue, but a symptom of something else. Keep in mind that if it happens too much, there are some steps you can take to dig deeper. 

I then check the process in the task manager and Pro Tools was "not responding" and not closing. The other resources (CPU, memory, disk, network, GPU) all looked normal. I create a dump file from the Protools.exe so I can attempt to gain some insight into the software crash later. The dump file was created successfully, and then all of a sudden the computer officially crashes and I see it. The BSOD (Blue Screen of Death) with a memory stop error.

Now, this error is a Windows-level error. Yikes! After the computer came back up, I reviewed the dump file that I created and was pointing at the Play engine (play.axxplugins). The play engine is what actually loads an instrument on a track in Pro Tools. Even though it confirmed what was crashing and that it was related to the "unloading" of the instruments, it still did not give me any concrete information to research with. However, I researched the issue and found a few articles suggesting to "trash the preferences" of Pro Tools. Mmmm!? This is interesting, I thought. So, I called Sweetwater support, which is where I buy all my gear and software, to confirm.  They also suggested to "trash" the preferences.

Side Note: Their support team is amazing! They always have great suggestions and are super knowledgeable.  

With Pro Tools closed, I navigated to %appdata%\roaming\avid\ found the Pro Tools folder and renamed the Pro Tools folder to Pro Tools Old, and opened Pro Tools and then my music project. My preferences were reset as expected. I played the session and then exited. No crash this time! I was super excited. I tested it a few more times and still no crash. Looks like the issue is fixed! 

Well, as usual, I wanted to know more. Why did that fix the issue of Protools crashing when closing a session? Remember, the crash dump file pointed directly at the Play plugin. (Play.axxplugin). So, I went back to the location of the Pro Tools Old folder and the new one that was created. I pulled up two windows and compared the contents of each folder. I wondered what was different between the two preference folders and noticed something very interesting. In the Pro Tools Old folder, there was a Saffire.pio file. This contains Pro Tools I/O settings and interface settings!

The answer became clear. Quick history, the interface that was connected before the current Scarlett Solo was a Saffire Pro 40. 

Important Note: The Saffire Pro 40 (with Firewire) is not compatible with Windows 10. Focusrite decided that they were no longer going to develop drivers for Windows 10. Click here for the official article from Focusrite.

So, it would make sense for Protools to crash if the .pio file is written to when the session closes. It would have been written to the wrong .pio (Pro Tools I/O settings) file!


Thanks for reading!


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