What is the best location to install VSTs?

I’ve made some changes to my hardware and I wonder if I should change the location of my VSTs etc.

C: I have a 240Gb SSD as my system disk, which has 90Gb free.
D: I have a 120Gb SSD as my backup system disk (18Gb free)
E: I have a 932Gb HD which is where most of my third-party VSTs are (BBC Symphony, Kontakt, Air, Garritan etc.) as well as backups of my Cubase projects.
F: I have a 60Gb SSD which I use as my temporary working disk for Cubase projects (I move a project from the E: drive to work on it)
G: I have a 1Tb SSD which is empty.
H: I have a portable HD which is for backup.

I wondered if I would be better off moving ALL my VSTs from the E: drive to the new G: (SSD) drive. Is this simply a matter of moving the physical folders and changing the location in the VST Plugin Manager VST 2 Plug-in Path Settings? Are there any gotchas of which I should be aware?

Thanks for any help received.


I guess that you have a Windows based system…

AFAIK, VSTs plug-ins, either instruments or effects, are basically .dll or .vst3 files. IOW, they are extensions of the host application (Cubase, in our case). From which, I wouldn’t try to install any VST outside the regular path, this to not have to deal with different paths spreaded all over the system. Beside this, most of VSTs plug-ins have now their own installation process, with Windows registry entries created during it. Moving the files afterwards is asking for problems, IMO, as often the install paths are written in it at different places, this without talking about an eventual protection scheme.

But if you are sure that a given VSTs is all in a simple .dll file with no installation program, it should normally be possible to use any location, provided that the path is visible in the VST plug-ins manager.

FWIW, for VSTs done with the 2.4 SDK version, the path I use is the C:\Program Files\Steinberg\VSTPlugins one : ALL my third party VST plug-ins are in it. Result : no issue and no stress… I won’t talk about VST3 plug-ins, as the only ones I use are bundled with Cubase. And it seems to be a mess that I absolutly don’t want to touch : if ain’t broken…

If a given VST is bundled with libraries, things get different : in example, I installed BFD3 (drums VSTi) libraries in a specific D:\BFD3 folder, as I was given the choice to do so during the installation (I did it, as there was more than 50 Gb needed). I have done the same thing for other ones (Alchemy, E-Mu X3…).

It would be ok to leave the .dll files where they are and just move the libraries to a separate disk.
VST3 plug-ins itself should not get moved in any way, since these are installed in a location set inside the installer… so if you move them it’s hard for the system to find them and to update them.
But again, it should be perfectly ok to move the content.

Agreed with:

  • leave all VSTs on the C drive where they are now

And consider:

  • move the larger library content to the new SSD
    – however that involves different setup mechanisms required for different VST instruments, to that the VST can find its sound files after the move.
    – the best idea is to find the instructions for moving library location for each of the VSTs before doing so.

And finally: use the SSDs for working and the HDD for backups :slight_smile:

I would clone the C:\ drive to the 1Tb ssd, and swap them.