Stability and Prefs Corruption -- a Suggestion

Hit once again by the, always slightly frightening and disturbing, “Cubase crashes on project load,” thing.

It happens a lot.

It always (thankfully) seems to get fixed by trashing the prefs folder (on Windows). And it never seems to be the actual project file itself (which is kinda good I guess).

We’re then left with the task of trying to remember all the VST paths to repopulate and dozens of little config and prefs settings (there are actually quite a lot to have to remember and manually recreate when this happens).

So, dear developers, since you can’t seem to fix this outright (I’m a developer and know how that is), perhaps a “second line of defense” is in order – one to compliment, not replace, a true fix.

Here’s a proposal on one possible approach to help make this more bearable:

“Last known good configuration.”

That’s it. Simple.

Similar to Windows registry, make a snapshot of all those troublesome xml files and such. That way, when this happens, we don’t lose anything.

I think it needs to be more than simply backing up that Cubase 6_64 folder, because I do that and restoring it does not fix the crashes, but trashing it completely does.


Edit/Update: Welp, this is a first. Trashing prefs did not solve it this time. I have a project that will not load. Very troubling. I’m sure it’s a plugin’s fault. Steinberg, you guys created the VST format, is there no way to “sandbox” a ill-behaving VST in such a way that it doesn’t crash Cubase itself? Probably not. Sigh. This sucks. I was sooo close to mixing this project down, too. :cry:

You know, all this truly fatal crashing (won’t even load) + problem ownership uncertainty due to the nature of having third-party plugins + no direct phone support = a feeling of complete helplessness. It all adds up to a pretty horrible system when you think about it.

It almost makes a producer want to switch to Reason and just get on with the business of making music.

I can’t believe I just said that.

But seriously, this essentially no phone support thing is a pretty daunting hurdle.

Has anyone gotten good turn-around, support from this “appointment” thing?

I’ve never heard of such a thing.

Cheers and wish me luck, a two month song production looks to be down-the-drain.

As simple as copying the preferences folder.
Also, by doing that, you don’t have to start from scratch every time.
Simply copy the file containing the preferences you want back in.

You can try telling Cubase not to load the plugins.
Remove the plugin paths from the list until your project opens (assuming it’s a VST 2.x plugin).

Thanks, Shinta - Well, it’s not always as simple as copying the prefs folder. I have been doing that religiously and in this case it didn’t help to replace a last known good folder copy – it still crashes. If I trash the folder completely and let Cubase rebuild all the prefs from scratch the project loads for that one time, and then crashes Cubase every time after that one time (even if resaved) – unless I trash completely again, then I get one more time – an endless loop. So, I’d have to trash prefs every time I relaunch Cubase (that’s not gonna happen).

So, there are two things going on here.

  1. While saving a last known good pref folder will help sometimes, it doesn’t always. My guess is there are some other more “internal” config files that get totally rebuilt when it sees that folder missing – that’s the only logical explanation. Otherwise, copying a known good folder would fix it. I’d love to know where those more “hidden” config files are so that I could back those up, too. (maybe Steinberg will respond on this and at least confirm that there are “secret” config files somewhere that get re-inited when Cubase sees that the prefs folder has been deleted)

  2. Sometimes even trashing completely will not help and more VST inspection / troubleshooting (like you’re suggesting) is needed.

Btw, I did try removing the VST paths and it still crashes.

The battle continues…

Thanks again for the suggestions.


Update: It seems to be a combination of pref file issues and also multiple corruption issues in the project file itself related to VST inserts. I think I’m close to fixing it by removing VSTs, trashing prefs, loading, removing those VST instances, saving, repeating. What a mess.

It’s not the VSTs themselves as I found an older version of the project that loads fine with the exact (literally untouched) VSTs in question.

Also, nothing changed with my computer or setup at all. Nothing was installed or anything. This project was loading and then just suddenly didn’t load.

I would take stability / corruption prevention / recovery enhancements (however you want to word it) in Cubase over a dozen new features. I would consider those things features, as I realize it’s a tall order for a single application to reign control over so many diverse apps (VSTs) that live and breath inside it.

Though, in this case, I really think it’s Cubase to blame for the corruption and not the VSTs. For one, because it happened to multiple VSTs and I doubt they all got together and decided to execute mutiny.

By the way, one of the offending (victimized?) plugins is a VST 3. So any stability improvements (if there are any) toward making VST 3s more robust and compliant against a spec, or whatever, didn’t spare this situation.

The bad news is that my whole premise of this post “last known good config” suggestion thing would not have helped here, as it was more involved than just the prefs corrupting. It’s just not that simple.

Are you not having Cubase make automatic backups of projects every so often? Sounds like maybe that’s the “older version” you mention.

For instance, I think the default autosave interval is every 15 minutes and keeps up to 10 versions, though for some reason I don’t usually get that many. Still, there’s usually a bak file in the project directory I can roll back to in case of catastrophe. Has saved me a couple times.

Yes, I do have it autosaving (what ever its default setting is). Yeah, that’s saved me, too. Additionally, I save really often.

In this case the corruptions go pretty far back. It’s really strange. Previous versions that loaded fine (about 10 of them), now won’t.

It’s almost like it corrupted, a while ago, but without showing symptoms and then corrupted again and then the need to clear the prefs made that that first corruption manifest (or something) – total speculation.

There was no hard-drive crash or anything. Very strange. I feel like Cubase is kinda brittle in this area. My confidence for its reliability is starting to seriously erode. Really bums me out cuz I love it almost every other way.

If you didn’t build your system yourself then get your tech to look at it. Persistent crashes mean something deeper down is causing it. Yes, it can only involve large resource hoggers like Cubase and so make it look like that’s the cause but as many thousands run similar systems without problems then you have to get inside the machine for a couple of days or even weeks. “Corruptions” don’t happen on their own. Check the registry and the error logs.

Kill that mouse. :mrgreen:

And to remember all the little paths and settings, pro studios can’t exist without pens and paper.

Thanks, Conman. Yeah, I built it from scratch myself. A new Ivy Bridge build that I put into an old 4U rackmount server case I had lying around. I customized the case to support an H100 liquid cooler as I knew Cubase was going to be run hot. :mrgreen: . I will admit that I have not dug into the registry or logs yet. The project is pretty large. Task manager reports cubase.exe consumes about 4.7 Gigs when the project is loaded – not too bad. I have 32 Gigs of ram, so not much (if any) is getting swapped.

What is, “pens and paper”? :laughing:

But seriously, your point is well taken – all software of this complexity has bugs and issues and requires fiddling, pens and paper. I just came from Logic on a Mac Pro. It was not without crashes, either. Never had file corruption on it, tho.


(that mouse would kill me first, before I would even have a chance)

Maybe they should extend the backup plan. In addition to the normal interval autosaves that occur if you’re not saving yourself, perhaps Cubase should always keep a single backup of the last intentional save minus 1, in addition to the last known openable save, that is a backup of the file you just opened, even you you intentionally save after that.

Good idea. But, in my case it was something more involved than just backing up / auto-saving the project files. I had “good” projects going back about 10 versions that would load, but then wouldn’t after the prefs crash. It was some complex interaction between corruption in the project files and also the prefs (or something like that).

Btw, I did resolve my issue by tracking down the VST 3’s, removing them, trashing prefs, getting the project to load, removing the instances of the corrupted plugins, saving and then putting the VST 3’s back and re-configuring all the prefs. I was able to go back about 11 versions and save out all the VST presets and then reload them in freshly created VST instances.

While it seems like the VST’s are to blame as they’re the ones called-out when Cubase crashes (sometimes), I’m pretty sure they had nothing to do with the underlying corruption as they were not touched and I don’t think they have the reach to do any writing to either pref files or the actual project files – that’s 100% abstracted and delegated by Cubase when you hit “save.”

I’m actually attempting to recreate this entire project in Sonar X1 Producer Trial version and see how it goes. I need a reliable DAW as a primary feature cuz I work long hours for my “day job” and I don’t have time to mess around with these kind of issues – there are enough moving parts and dongles and serials and software updates and hardware updates and video drivers and general plugin crashes, etc. to deal with – adding project file corruption / prefs corruption (prefs corruption at least twice a week) to an already brittle situation (you find in any computer-based DAW) is just too much.

I’m not jumping ship quite yet, but I’m keeping my options open and will be “monitoring the situation” in both of these DAWs (Cubase and Sonar X1). Protools, Digital Performer and Studio One are all missing a key feature I need (linked clip copies) so they’re out. Reaper is okay but not my first choice. FL Studio is a possibility. Ableton is good but not my workflow or UI style and the audio engine is not as good as Cubase, Logic, Protools or Sonar. “Reason” – no VST support means no go.

(The other main thing pushing me away from Cubase is the 6 insert limitation – it’s killin’ me. I say “six” because the last two don’t count – if they don’t freeze they can’t be used when the project gets huge.)