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Lee Jackson

VST Scan Extremely Slow On 2 Computers - SOLVED

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I have two computers running Cakewalk by Bandlab 2021.09. Both are experiencing extreme slowdowns during the VST Scan portion of the startup procedure.

Here are my system specs:

System one (desktop):

  •  Intel i7-5930K
  • 32GB RAM
  • VST Count: 1680 split between an SSD drive and an NVMe drive

System two (laptop):

  • Intel i9-10850K
  • 32GB RAM
  • VST Count: 220, everything installed on an NVMe drive.

The only things I have in common on both systems is I have the Blue Cat freeware plugins and the Plugin Alliance MEGA subscription pack installed on both. The slowdown is not as severe on System two, obviously, but it is still ridiculously slow. This is a regression that I have noticed over the past few releases. Can something be done to speed up the VST Scan?

Edited by Lee Jackson

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I don't - Cakewalk is set to do a VST Search on each start. It's not doing a real one-at-a-time scan, or at least not that I can see. I get the "Searching for plugins" message, and then several minutes later, I get a count of how many plugins I have.

Addendum: If I've loaded up Cakewalk recently, the search is cached an goes much faster - almost instantaneous. Give it an hour or two, though, and it'll be back to its old, slow self, especially on System one.

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Um, I don't know. Maybe go into the preferences dialogue and change the VST scan settings.

Dialogs2_064.1_1.png.5c59476c4ead56a1790bc1e10d91adbd.png

Took all of two minutes to find it in the documentation.

 

 

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Did you select "Manual Scan" in the drop-down box?

And what are your scan paths? You're not scanning your entire computer are you?

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5 hours ago, bdickens said:

Did you select "Manual Scan" in the drop-down box?

And what are your scan paths? You're not scanning your entire computer are you?

No, I haven't selected "Manual Scan." That would be shutting down the auto-scan. I have it set to "Scan on Startup."

On System two, my scan paths are rather simple: just c:\program files\cakewalk\vstplugins and c:\program files\common files\vst3 . I've got a couple of additional paths added to this on System one due to some redistribution of VST DLLs, but nothing too weird.

In short, IMHO it's nothing I'm doing that's causing the slowdown, if that's what you've been trying to get at.

CbB admins, can you see if the programmers are tuned in to this thread? Is there anything you folks can do to speed up the VST Scans?

 

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Which brings me back to my first question: why are you scanning your vsts over and over? Once they've been scanned, there's no need to do it again.

 

If this is a Cakewalk issue, then how come you're the only one reporting it?

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It’s not the software. First 2000 plug ins is obsessively a lot.  
most of us might have 200 and that’s too many. So You do need to use manual scan if your going to horde that many plug ins. 

What I have done is create a VST folder where I put all the junk I never use. There’s a lot. That folder is not on my scan list. If I do desire to try one I will copy it to my regular folder and because I don’t need manual scan off, Cakewalk adds it. Simple. Cakewalk loads in less than 10 seconds for me. 
 

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My automatic background scans take no time at all.

Never have.

All ~1300 plug-ins are on the system SSD.

The last reset took around 14 minutes.

 

Are there many plug-ins that run in a shell like Waves?

May want to run a generate scan log and review the settings at the top of the log.

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15 hours ago, bdickens said:

Which brings me back to my first question: why are you scanning your vsts over and over? Once they've been scanned, there's no need to do it again.

It's on *auto scan*, which only scans the new VSTs. It's supposed to do just a quick check of the rest of them to see if anything has changed. That's how auto scan works.

15 hours ago, John Vere said:

It’s not the software. First 2000 plug ins is obsessively a lot.  
most of us might have 200 and that’s too many. So You do need to use manual scan if your going to horde that many plug ins.

It's not 2000, it's just over 1600, and it's not your call as to whether or not it's obsessive or not. You'd be surprised how quickly Waves Horizon, Plugin Alliance MEGA, and a couple of other packs add up. Besides, this auto scan used to run quickly, even with my large amount of plugins. It only recently began slowing down dramatically.

14 hours ago, scook said:

May want to run a generate scan log and review the settings at the top of the log.

Thank you for some helpful advice, at last! :D I'll do that and get back to the forum.

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If the scan appears to be slow even though its not actually scanning any new plugins (no toast notifications showing it scanning plugins) then there are some possibilities.
Registry access is slow (degraded or something like an AV is blocking).  Or something is slowing down access to the disk where the plugins are. Again could be AV related.
If this was fast earlier these are the first areas I would look at. 
The scan log may show something as well. 

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Agreed, 1600 is a lot. Anything over a thousand we measure in "bapus"; you've got 1.6 bapus' worth of plugins. I have way too many plugins, but I only come in at ~0.5 bapus.

However, the plugin count shouldn't really matter much unless you're doing a full reset/rescan. If you're only scanning new plugins the perceptible difference between 200 and 2000 ought to be negligible. How much time are we talking about, Lee? Several minutes? 

Whatever the reason, I wouldn't expect it to be due to issues with the scanner itself. Yes, it's had some updates (mine is dated 28 Oct, so still shiny from the box). But the basic function of the scanner is fairly simple and straightforward. Most of the run time happens within the plugins themselves. The scanner then just gathers information about them and adds them to the list after they report success. Consequently, one plugin can bog down the whole scan. Any new plugins added since before the slowdown began? Any Waves stuff? Anything with Pace or Pace-like copy protection?

Both scanner and plugins access the registry, as Noel notes. Could you maybe have an antivirus utility that gates access to the registry, or that scans DLLs before they can be opened? Whatever A/V you use should have the ability to whitelist (exclude) specific paths. Nobody's ever been infected by a VST, so it's safe to exclude every folder in your scan path. 

 

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It also may be due to something that altered the environment path, perhaps.  Not sure, though, but once, long ago, I saw adding one of the MS development tools increased the PATH by adding a lot of the development folders and that made a phenomenal slowdown to some scanning software tools.

So if you made some changes that added folders to the PATH, maybe that will help narrow things down.

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On 11/1/2021 at 11:27 AM, Noel Borthwick said:

Again could be AV related.

 

On 11/1/2021 at 12:57 PM, bitflipper said:

Whatever A/V you use should have the ability to whitelist (exclude) specific paths. Nobody's ever been infected by a VST, so it's safe to exclude every folder in your scan path.

Turns out that my antivirus (Bitdefender) was the problem! It was being a bit too overzealous in its protection of my system. I whitelisted all the scan paths on both System one and System two, and voila! Problem solved, scan speed back to its normal peppy self. My thanks to the two of you for helping me out here - I really do appreciate it!

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Glad you could figure it out.
All the scanner is doing when not actually scanning a plugin is enumerating files on the system and checking timestamps and reading from the registry. That should be very fast unless something external blocks those accesses (as AV's typically do with any executable files and the registry).
When scanning plugins the plugin is loaded and queried for various parameters. This can also be blocked and made very slow if the AV needs to check for viruses.

This is the main reason we don't recommend running AV's on DAW's. That said I've never had issues with Windows defender slowing down the DAW. Your mileage may vary with other AV's since some are very aggressive.

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