Severe Disk Cache Spiking?

Hi folks,

I’m having quite severe disk cache overload issues and was looking for a bit of help in troubleshooting, or with regards to any remedial action I can take.

Here’s my set up:

ASUS P8H67 - Intel H67 Chipset
INTEL i5 2500 Sandy Bridge - Quad 3.3Ghz
16Gb DDR III 1333Mhz
1000GB SATA 7200RPM *2
Cubase 6.07 64bit
Steinberg UR28m (@ high buffer while mixing, latest drivers)

I have a project with ~ 50 mono audio tracks, one VSTi, 4 group tracks and about 6 FX tracks (4 reverbs and two delays). I have frozen ALL of the tracks (for now).

The system and project drives are separate internal drives, both fully defragmented and both 90%+ free. Any samples are on a further external hard drive.

When I play the project, at times, the disk cache spiking is causing the audio to glitch to the point where it’s unusable or, in some cases, crash the project.

CPU usage is pretty steady at around 20-25% and RAM usage at about 3GB.

I’ve run some disk error checking against the drives and there doesn’t appear to be an issue there.

Is there any other action I can take? Is there any benefit in backing up the project to the external drive just checking if the read/write from/to it shows the same behaviour?

I’ve also tried increasing the disk preload in Cubase, but it seems to make things worse (some tracks play back, other don’t etc – it seems quite erratic!).

Any thoughts?


For reference, my external drive details:

WD My Book Essential 3.0 1 TB External Hard Drive (USB 3.0/2.0)

It should be noted that the disk cache spiking is occurring even when there are no VSTi’s loaded i.e. I’m not accessing any samples from the external drive.


What samplerate are you using?

It’s all 44.1 Khz, 24 bit.

I actually record mostly on my laptop (also using the UR28m) and would then export/import the files into the project on my home/studio PC.

Virus checkers? any other programs that are accessing the disk? Background programs getting in the way?

No virus checkers running. The machine is only used for my audio stuff, so there are redundant programs which are running or installed (that I’m aware of!). I’ll double-check that later. I was monitoring the disk IO using the utility accessed via the task manager and it did appear to be Cubase that was causing the issue i.e. it was going ‘red’.

A real rough test is to do a backup project, don’t tick any of the boxes, It’ll create a new Project directory and copy over everything. Then try running that copied project and see if that helps?

Yeah, that seems like a good proposal. I’ll give that a punt.

I guess it also might be worth cleaning up the project of any non-used files, although I don’t know if that will make a difference (given they’re not being used, supposedly).


OK, I backed up the project to my external drive and it seems to run fine from there. Well, much better anyway.

I’ve compared the project folder sizes and there is a considerable difference - does the backup also remove/not copy unreferenced files? It seems the difference is in the audio directory. I had already run ‘remove unused media’ for reference.

Should I be doing a full ‘clean’ of the project (File->Clean Up)? I don’t really understand, if they aren’t being referenced, how they can be contributing to disk I/O - willing to try anything though!?

I’m always a little wary of running the file clean up (yes, incorrect shared location for saving files in the past), so I’ll backup all projects first.

Is your external drive 7200 RPM or above? Some external drives run 5400 RPM :open_mouth: :laughing: Hope this helps any.