DAW crashes - what are your experiences and what can you do?

In the last two days, Ableton Live crashed on me 3 times in 2 completely unrelated projects. Every time, the Ableton track recovery did not work with regard to the parameters of at least one plugin. I have some ideas which plugins might be causing it due the fact that these are not recovered after crashes, but it’s more than one, and they are all high quality made by most trusted developers, still being developed and so on. My fav drum plugin is among those, but I won’t name names for now :wink:

But what can you do about it? I don’t want to stop using the plugins that might cause it, so i just try to save regularly. But even then, as has been noted in a different thread, in some rare cases Ableton crashes also seem to take down project files (no idea how that works, maybe they are already broken when saved, but it seems to happen like that). With regard to switching to another DAW, I had better experiences with Bitwig, but I even made the plugin crash protection crash once. And I miss some Ableton stuff in Bitwig, so I keep coming back to Live and just try to save regularly… but somehow I don’t remember having that many and frequent crashes when using Live or Reason a few years ago…

So what are your experiences with DAWs crashing, how does it affect your workflow and DAW/plugin selection, how are you trying to minimize the frequency of crashes and how do you cope when it happens? ^^

How often does your DAW crash?

  • Never. It’s solid.
  • Maybe once in a full moon when I try something really crazy.
  • Somewhat regularly, but not in every project or session.
  • In every session or project at least once.
0 voters

Save new versions of of project files. Print things to audio. Etc.


Honestly I don’t I try to bang everything out in like an 8 hour session take a pee break and then continue to proceed till I’m done but also when my cpu usage redline’s at 90ish percent it’s at this point that I record the sound whose effects are taking up a lot of cpu in Edison and bounce and freeze it load the sound as a sample clip and afterwards disable the mixer channel containing cpu eating effects or save the settings as a preset before I remove the plugin, if it’s the routing that does it I save the project file at different stages under the appropriate name after I record the sound,
I always record the sound because exporting it can be a pain, when I bounce and freeze it I proceed onwards with the mixing and composition…I also do everything as I go all at once because that’s the way I do stuff at most I’ll spend a day or two working on a track because of my attention span with music making


Good points. I always save multiple project versions and usually only the last version is broken. I started printing a bit less to audio since project folders got bigger and bigger over time for a while especially when projects involve more extensive sound design, but it’s still key to my workflow, not only to make room for more effects but also for mangling in RX and easy morphing of different bounces.

Also good points.

CPU use and complexity of projects is obviously very relevant. However, in my experience, crashes do not necessarily happen in the crazy 99% CPU use projects but also in smaller ones - but maybe then it’s really just a problem with some of the plugins i use…

I will see if I can add a poll asking how often your DAW crashes…

I’ve used Cubase, Protools, and Ableton in the past and they’re usually solid, forgiving the odd bump from more “out there” workloads.

However, since I mostly use Reason now, you know it’s got me thinking. I think I’ve never see it crash in my life, no matter what I’ve made it do.

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@bfk i work the exact same way

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I also use mostly stock plug-ins except for a pitch shifter and buffer override and few other plugins by dfx also when I do a windows update it can cause the files to be inaccessible sometimes

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If mine crashes because of a project loading which hasn’t happened in a long long time(complete different version, older computer, etc), I try to go back to a previous version of the project. But beyond that, I’ve never really tried to figure out the issue.

I can’t remember if it was a particular VST or whatever. I do remember one glitching my audio because of the reverb it had. But I’d just click the reverb in it off and then back on.

But that’s definitely a good reason to save multiple versions or copies and hope for the best.

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Things have been pretty solid here, lately. But I used to have pretty frequent crashes in Cubase back in the day. And some of them would manage to corrupt project files. So because of that, I got into the habit of saving a new version before each sessions. Or even multiple times per session, if I’m about to switch to a different aspect of the track. It’s totally not necessary for the original reason any more, but I realized it had an additional side effect - I define an intention of what I’m about to work on and it keeps me more focused. So I’m still doing that.

Most of the crashes were probably caused by Steinberg’s VST bridge that allows 32 bit plugins to run in 64 bit Cubase versions. Luckily, there’s a Brazilian dude who developed jBridge which does the conversion upfront and works so much better than Steinberg’s (and they are the ones who designed the fucking VST spec, how ridiculous is that?). So once I started using jBridge, the number of crashes decreased significantly. That was years ago and now most of the plugins I’m using have 64 bit versions, so it’s not as important.


For me, my DAW does not like me multi-tasking at all. So if I sit down to make music and launch my DAW, I don’t open anything else. If I do, my transport controls stop working and I can’t play audio out of my DAW anymore, though I can still work in it. Otherwise, it’s usually fine and I know to not check my email while I wait for a render or something. Similarly, I don’t check my email while I wait for a project to load, that’s pretty much guaranteed to end in a crash. So basic thing really, are you running anything in the background that you could get rid of?

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ctrl+S is life. I hit it after every single adjustment almost instinctively, obnoxiously. I also like to save different versions of the file as new progress changes or big adjustements are made… I.e. “song_1.1, song_1.2” etc.

have you tried reinstalling?

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Use Reaper…I may have 1 crash a year. Thats part of why I stuck with it after testing it when I was annoyed with the price of some Potools update.

But my stability is probably in part that I am a recovering vst addict. I have a suite of maybe 50 plugins and only upgrade a couple a year if something really new comes out. Granted some of these get their own updates. Big chunks are Toneboosters. Valhalla. FXpansion. Of course stock Reaplugs…

I also may just use fewer plugins than some. I tend to use guitar pedals and rack effects for a lot. Usually record synths thru amps even.


S[quote=“InDefianceOfGravity, post:9, topic:651”]
It’s totally not necessary for the original reason any more, but I realized it had an additional side effect - I define an intention of what I’m about to work on and it keeps me more focused. So I’m still doing that.

I do this as well. It’s too easy to get sidetracked and never finish a piece. Saving versions regularly allows me to go down a rabbit hole and come out where I started. Then I either “Save As” again and move on or I “Delete” and try again.

By the way “Delete” is major time saver… don’t ever have to listen to that bad boy again!

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Thank you all very much for all the comments and ideas! Not going to comment on everything, but sadly most stuff I already tried (for instance, reinstalling or updating PCs didn’t make a difference with regard to the crashes, but maybe I missed some plugin updates I might give a try). Probably it’s really an issue with some of the plugins I’m using.

Would be interesting to know which DAWs people are using who answered with “somewhat regularly” or “in every session”…

I was having a weird issue with Max/MSP recently, as I kinda mentioned elsewhere. Max/MSP, which I don’t actively use a whole lot, but I have used it before, and have made some tools, one specifically that I like to use in tracks, but I’d launch Max, and as soon as I started doing anything, it would abruptly crash. No error message, no warning… just crash, and it was gone.

I think it started happening after a Windows update a year back. Tried troubleshooting it, it wasn’t to do with any patch, as it would happen before a patch was even loaded. I thought it was something with the audio drivers at first, because I have had issues with the TASCAM US 16x08 drivers in the past (they’re really not implemented that well imo), and it would be happen when I tried changing something with the audio setup, but after trying to poke around and see what I COULD do, I found it happened even without touching the drivers or loading any audio modules.

Soo I kept digging. Process Monitor came up with nothing noteworthy. Dump logs said it was a thread from max accessing virtual memory it wasn’t supposed to, which is a whole other thing to get into, and hard to debug as without source code for Max. It also worked on other profiles, ANY other profile, so with that I was able to narrow it down to a profile issue.

Tried deleting the AppData folder iat C:\Users<user>\AppData\Cycling '74, but to no avail. Couldn’t find anything in the registry in HKCU. Checked for programs or things that might be interfering with it, startup programs that were required but perhaps not being started, as I sometimes disable things I don’t use, nothing.

So finally, I was getting ready to do a Windows refresh, which I really dreaded, which, while it does stop short of a complete Windows reinstall, you do have to reinstall ALL your apps, which I definitely did not want to go through. I’d already deleted the AppData, which is where programs put most of their own data for the user, but I looked online and was able to wipe out my profile, essentially bringing my profile back to a new user state, without actually deleting it. And… SUCCESS.

It was quite a victory. I wanted to share.

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You could contact the developers. As long as you’re respectful and polite, most developers I’ve talked to are quite happy to help you out with errors and things. Really, it’s to their advantage, because they want to make good software. In fact, I like using software from small developers that you can contact vs. a company like Apple or something, because you usually don’t have to jump through as many hoops to get help. I’ve had plenty of good experiences with larger companies too, but it’s nice not to have to go through the whole “customer service” hell, “did you turn it on and off again? I’m afraid we have to do this list of steps JUUUUUUUUST to make sure”.

So long as you’re a competent techy person, and not afraid of tinkering around with your machine, usually you can isolate the issue, and work with the developers to find out what’s up. I’ve had developers identify the issue, recompile the program .exe and upload it to the site for download within an hour or two after contacting them, fixing the issue (that was one thing I really liked about FL Studio. While it didn’t exactly fit my workflow, the software guys were AWESOME, they’d get things fixed and good to go).

That said, you will need to do be able to do some troubleshooting and investigation on your own, reading through documentation, making double sure you have things going right, cuz of course their time is valuable. Above all, don’t expect to be like, “WHY DOESN’T THIS WORK WORK FOR WHAT I’M PAYING I’VE BEEN A CUSTOMER MEHHHHH”, unless you want a swift way of getting NO help whatsoever. Especially open source stuff, these people are just doing this on the side, outside of their jobs, and they’re doing it all with no pay so give them a shout out for offering to software to people to use!

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Thank you very much for the comments, @IO_Madness, much appreciated! Also, I had really positive experience with contacting smaller developers with problems, G-Sonique once uploaded a new version of a VST for me within two days of reporting a problem. But with bigger companies, my experiences often were not as good so far.

I would surely do that if I only had Live. But since the problems seem to be related to some specific Live-plugin-interactions and only occur sometimes, I somehow do not expect this can be fixed fast with Ableton help, at least if it’s not a simple user-side issue, what i do not expect it to be after getting similar problems on different setups and machines. I think I just might rely more on Bitwig instead to save some time, which works fine mostly.

I wasn’t exactly replying to your specific situation, I was saying more generally, but I thought you said you were using Live? In any case, I wouldn’t be talking to Ableton if you’re having issues specifically with a non-Ableton plugin, really you should be talking to the developer of the plugin.

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Live crashing usually means you’ve automated 3+ parameters, opened a M4L device, added 4+ tracks or hit ‘undo’ on a major operation without freezing and flattening in time.

Recording straight to disk, freezing and flattening, or just resampling a gigantic group so you can just delete it are the best options in Live by far. Plus, it cuts down on analysis paralysis when you know you’ve gotten the sound you want so you can quit fucking with it and move on at a more appropriate pace.

Live crashing is a lesson in workflow management, TL;DR

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I am using Live but since Live still doesn’t support MPE I am using Bitwig more and more. So it’s getting less and less an issue for me, but I still like usign Live for some workflow things and Capture, so I keep coming back to it until it crashes again lol.
As noted above, it’s not an issue with a single plugin, but I think at least 3 different ones from different developers - I have already talked to some of the developers, one even sent me another version of one of the plugins and it didn’t change anything sadly.

Yeah, sometimes I like to keep a long plugin and effect chain in the project beacuse I know that I want to change something or do another version later - but you are completely right, I should work like that in Live all the time, always keep your projects completely clean, if you want to get back to a plugin-chain, load it up from an earlier saved version of the project… I just have to get used to that when working in Live or switch to BW completely I guess.