As a general rule, disk throughput (speed of your hard disks) determines the number of tracks you can playback at once, while CPU speed and RAM determine how many effects your PC can handle. Replacing old disks with newer, faster drives can sometimes help, but not always. IDE bus speed can also be a bottleneck. Check your motherboards IDE bus speed before investing in new disks. Perhaps a motherboard upgrade would be more beneficial. Use a utility like
or HD Tach to test your disk throughput.
Adding a second hard disk can increase throughput. Many of us have a drive dedicated to running Windows and the recording program while another drive is dedicated to the huge WAV files generated during the recording process.
Many users experience no problems running recording software on a 'general use' computer. However, if you're experiencing pops, clicks, pauses, or high CPU usage, you might want to tweak your PC for DAW use. Depending on your operating system (version of Windows), there are a number of steps you can take to streamline your PC.
At the very least:
Quit all background programs including antivirus software
Disconnect from the Internet/network, and disable networking and firewall software MusicXP.net is a great resource for those running WinXP. LitePC has tweaking suggestions for many versions of Windows.