Downloading to external hard drive

edited September 2021 in Hardware and Computers


I'm new to VSTs and trying to learn how to manage the files effectively. I'm hoping someone more knowledgeable can help me get my bearings.

I just bought a couple libraries from Spitfire and am excited to download them. I bought an external hard drive to store them. I also got a recommendation to get a second external hard drive just to backup all the files, so I'll plan on doing that in the next couple months...

But for now, I'm wanting to install these libraries and start using them! But I've run into a snag. I went to designate my external hard drive as the place where my libraries should be downloaded. I've discovered that there's not one place but five places I can designate as locations for downloads.

I do not want stuff to be strewn all over the place--but I'm also not sure if these should all be on the external hard drive. And on top of that, I'm not even sure if I'm going to be downloading all 5 of these types.

I did some research online but I'm not sure I understood it. So, VSTs are the actual sound files. VST2 and VST3 are parameter settings for plugins (or the plugins themselves?). AAX are VSTs but only for use in ProTools. And AU is same as VST but only for Mac (though I have a Mac and I'm pretty sure I'm using VSTs).

Can anyone briefly explain what VST2, VST3, AU, AAX are and how they are different from VSTs? Is there an advantage to using one over another?

Another question: Can you throttle download speeds in the Spitfire Audio downloader?

I currently use GarageBand for all my composing and bouncing. I just use ProTools for mixing and mastering. Like I said I'm pretty new to all this and do not have a computer engineering background or anything like that, so any feedback or links to helpful resources is certainly appreciated.

Thanks for reading my post!



  • The content path will be where the bulk of your download will end up. This will be mostly audio files.

    Vst's are the programs utilizing the files in your daw. Vst2 and 3 are simply improvements with back end stuff.

    I throw everything in one place, and let my DAW know that I've decided to go with a different file path for my vst's. I do have two extra drives with more instrument samples as I ran out of space, but vst's are small and I keep them all in one spot.

    Not sure about au and aax, don't really use whatever that is as far as I am aware.

  • @RoskoVair for the avoidance of doubt here, you should leave the VST2 path as the Default. The reason for this is most DAW recognise the default automatically, which will save you having to point the VST2 location in your DAW to a specific custom location.

  • LMC
    10 Comments First Anniversary 5 Likes First Answer
    edited December 2021

    Just in case anyone else reads this Thread, some general info:

    Installers usually put the Plugins where they need to be, so the default folder on each relevant system and no real need to change that.

    The Sample Libraries can be installed on a separate Drive (Recommended) but with a Mac you need to create a 'Symbolic Link' manually to the Sample Library (Not an Alias) to the original install Folder from the External HDD, if it puts them on the System Drive. (On Mac it's /Library/Application Support/'SW Name' or /Library/Audio/'SW Name' usually).

    Sometimes the Installer will give you an option to install Samples on a different Drive but depends on Installer.

    Search for 'Symbolic Linker' (By Nick Zitzmann) in your favourite Search Engine. (What I use).

    VST or Audio Plugin?

    The term VST is often used as a general term for any plugin type of plugin. In fact, the VST format is a specific format designed by Steinberg. For the general case, we can instead simply use the term audio plugin. The main types of audio plugin relevant to most users are as follows: VST2, VST3, AU and AAX. Audio plugins are typically run in a Digital Audio Workstation (DAW), which is the host software. There are many DAWs on the market, a few examples of which are: Cubase, Ableton Live, Studio One, Logic, FL Studio, Garage Band, Reaper.


    Available for Windows and Mac.

    VST2 (virtual studio technology) is the most widely used audio plugin format and has been in use for many years. On Windows, it is the standard format used by hosts, and you can be pretty certain that your Windows DAW will support it. The VST format is also designed for Mac though it is slightly less widespread. On Windows the VST2 format is in the form of a .dll file, and on Mac is the .vst file. For a list of DAWs that support VST2 please see the wikipedia page. A few examples of popular DAWs that do not support VST2 are Logic, Garage Band and Pro Tools.


    Available for Windows and Mac.

    VST3 (virtual studio technology 3) is the most recent format designed by Steinberg. It is an entirely new format – different from the VST2 format. It is designed with a few features that are useful particularly for feature-heavy plugins. Despite being a new and slightly more powerful format to VST2 it is not widely supported yet.


    Available on Mac only.

    AU (audio unit) is a format designed by Apple. It is roughly comparable to the VST2 format though is not compatible with it. The AU format comes in the .component file format. AU is only for Mac and is then only format supported by by Apple’s DAWs Logic and Garage Band.


    Available on Windows and Mac.

    AAX (avid audio extension) is the new format for use in Pro Tools. Pro Tools is very well established host used throughout the music production, mixing and mastering industry. This type of format is unique to Pro Tools, but is still worth mentioning due to Pro Tools’s prevalence in those areas of audio production.


    Some developers also offer a standalone version of their products. As the name suggests this is not actually a plugin. It is just a version of audio plugin that can be launched like you would a normal desktop application. It does not require a DAW in order to work. This is a convenient way for users to use the plugin and is sometimes helpful for live performances.

    32 bit plugins versus 64 bit plugins

    32 bit or 64 bit are types of computer architecture, with 64 bit being much more common in modern computers (the wider addressing width of 64 bit architectures is generally advantageous in modern computing). When a plugin is described as one of these, it simply means it is built for that particular architecture. The complications come from the fact that some DAWs that run on 64 bit systems can host both 32 bit and 64 bit plugins. This is not always the case and therefore it is important to ensure that you have a host that is capable of hosting the plugin, otherwise it will not work. Finding the architecture of your DAW and operating system is found in different ways, but a quick google search will quickly point you to the right place to look.

  • In my opinion, the VST's, AU's is best to keep them in the default path on your computer, also because when you use multiple daws it might just get messy. But content (samples / data / any audio) could move to any specific external drive easily and would be the bulk of all data.