I am going to build a new PC from scratch and saw on some Youtube tutorials, that people are installing their OS (operating system) and DAW (digital audio workstation) on slower hard drives. They do argue, that the OS does not need to run on a fast hard drive, but is this really true?

I imagine that the processing speed of any DAW, which I install on a slower hard-drive, becomes itself slower. Why should installing a DAW on a slower hard drive not affect the processing speed of this DAW?

I'd appreciate some help for this!

Thanks in advance!

2 Answers 2


The audio processing speed is dependent entirely on the speed of the CPU and RAM in the machine. Storing the DAW software itself on a slow hard drive will not have any effect at all on the processing speed.

What will be critical however is where you store the audio that you are working with. Most DAW's will buffer audio to a certain extent, mitigating the effect of slow storage, however this is only going to help up to a certain point. A lot of the audio projects I work on are stored on external storage connected via USB3. This works very successfully.

Note that having a 'slow' operating system drive will affect operation of the O/S generally due to the 'swap' space being on slow media. In my own experience an SSD is a good choice for the operating system as you will have access to fast disk for your paging swap file. This is highly desirable and will improve your experience when working with highly memory-hungry applications.

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    Something to add. If one can afford it, put in as much RAM as the system can take to avoid swapping. Then, creating a RAM-disk for temp space will greatly increase the access speed to the temporary files the software uses. And, if there is still enough memory available, copy your data files into temp files (on RAM) and pass those to the software. The HD or SSD will hardly be accessed. Oct 19, 2019 at 16:01

They do argument, that the OS does not need to run on a fast hard drive

That maybe made sense a couple of years ago when SSDs were expensive and small, so you'd use them for the most critical data only.

These days, the price difference is small enough to just go for the SSD for everything except archival storage.

I have two computers from the same year, one with an SSD and one with an HD as the OS drive. The difference in startup times alone makes the SSD worthwhile.

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