A question about the 'scratch drive'

What is a scratch drive???

Excuse my ignorance, but i haven’t come across this term before…

Where did you come across it now?

I don’t think it has any precise technical meaning but is generally a place where temporary files are temporarily stored.


What happened is that I upgraded my computer to a far more powerful PC to what I used to have.

As expected, Cubase (11) run brilliantly. Really, really happy with the performance with pretty much everything.

But when it came to exporting, I was surprised to find out that exporting speeds were (although much better) not as fast as I expected.

It seems that when I use mastering plugins, things are slowing A LOT.

No plugins? No problem, We are talking about a few seconds for exports of an 8 minute track, for all stems (usually up to 8 to 10 stems).

Adding plugins, seconds become minutes, if I use Gullfoss , the Master version, the speeds drop dramatically.

So I consulted the forum of the company I got my PC, I send them a performance reading, and this is what was responded:

"AfterThought: Some processes deliberately page out scratch data, this is data that they will need to use later but which doesn’t need to be held in RAM. They use the paging subsystem for this because it’s faster than a conventional I/O. It’s possible that Cubase11 is doing so and it’s not really a shortage of RAM that you have (nothing else there is paging) but a poor paging subsystem because of the SATA SSDs.

I would carefully read the system requirements of Cubase11, it may benefit from a dedicated scratch drive on which to store these temporary files and it may be reverting to the paging subsystem because you don’t have one. The software documentation should tell you what size scratch drive is needed and what config changes you need to make to Cubase11 to use the scratch drive. This drive needs to be a fast NVMe drive (as does your system drive)."

And so I was wondering what a scratch disc is, thanks so much!

I see. As far as I know, there is no way to set a location for Cubase to store temporary files.

No worries, thanks so much!

Are you thinking of Reason? That’s the only DAW I’ve seen use that term for storage of temp files.

Hey , thanks for the reply.

I actually don’t know what the term is, it was suggested to me on the forum by the computer company which I got my PC from.

My enquiry was only for Cubase, which they understood from their end that I was asking for CB and not any other DAW.


What they mean is placing you system page file on another (faster) drive. As default it resides on your c:\ drive in the root where windows 11 is installed and is roughly twice the size of your internal RAM. In some rare cases it can speed up processes like this when you place it on another faster drive. But nowadays in practice it wont make a lot of dfference on most modern systems. But you could of course try and alway switch back to the system drive. However more RAM will always be the better option.

Take look here:

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ALL Mastering plugins suck the juice

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Cheers! I appreciate the info and link.

Yes indeed, upping the RAM is on the cards.

It’s ridiculous, it takes me seconds to bounce a track with no plugins and goes up by minutes with Mastering plugins…

You could go old school and make a new project for your Mastering work instead of stuffing your projects to the gills with plugins. Just a thought.

Ozone 9 here ramps me up 35% on the CPU, no joke

But a rather good thought.

If you have a Project that is trying to serve multiple purposes it’s like asking for problems.

Thanks buddy, but, I already do this : )

But even on an “empty” project, exporting slows down to a huge degree when I am using mastering plugins such as Ozone and Gulfoss, don’t get me wrong, it is much faster than my old PC but I would like to improve on the speed as I am working on mission critical projects, and would be good to get better results on that front,


That just gave me a little belly laugh.

Seriously, though …

How large are these “mission critical projects” that they require so much time to export?

What kind of actual time are we talking about here compared to the length of the project mixdown file?

“Mastering” plugins typically increase the export time. I just don’t understand your exact situation and what your exact expectations are.

How fast do you expect to export what type of project mixdown? Way too many unknowns to determine a problem (if there even is one).

Well, I am glad I amused you…

I am referring to full film scores, 80 to 90 minutes of music with full orchestral/hybrid configuration.

Every section has to be exported and mastered separately, meaning Brass/strings/synths/percussions, etc, with sometimes 18 to 20 stereo tracks per cue.

Depending on the project, the deadline for exporting said stems can be unmovable, and very tight.
Add to that a producer(s) and/or director(s) who could be micromanaging the score, and change their mind constantly, and so, as you can imagine, one can get in a very difficult situation.

When I upgrade to an 18 core computer with 64 Giga RAM I expect a much better exporting time, because to be honest, after sometimes going through hell within a film production, the last thing I want to do is to wait for a huge amount of time, exporting stems…

I do appreciate your interest, I really do, but the topic is not about me asking how to export faster, I simply asked if anyone knew what a scratch disk is…

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I appreciate the link.

With thanks.

And if you’re on a Mac this is even more useful I think:

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Brilliant, many thanks!

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@somecomposer Thank you for the details. That certainly explains your long export times.

Sorry for moving things sideways. Carry on …