If you have been using Pro Tools for some time or if you spend any amount of time in audio engineering spaces online, you likely know that this software can at times be a little finicky and as such may not open or may crash during its operation. “Pro Tools has crashed” is practically a meme in audio engineering circles. A lot of these common issues have relatively simple fixes which are going to be addressed in this article.
Common causes for Pro Tools failing to open include:
Compatibility and Optimization
To ensure smooth operation in Pro Tools and prevent errors upon attempting to open the software or open a session, it is important to first ensure that whatever device you are running the software on meets the minimum or recommended system requirements for your version of Pro Tools. Pro Tools, being a resource-heavy software requires a relatively powerful device to be able to run. Key things to consider when installing Pro Tools include but are not limited to:
- How much RAM is installed on your device– 16GB or more of RAM (8GB for Pro Tools 12 and earlier versions will do for light recording and mixing work.
- The operating system running on your device- 64 bitWindows 10 or Mac OS 10.14.6 or higher. It is important to check Avid’s official website for officially supported operating systems
- Audio and Video Drivers and whether they are up to date
- How much hard drive space you have available- 15GB needed for installation
- Whether your antivirus software may be interfering with Pro Tools. – Turn off antivirus software during installation to prevent errors.
How to Fix Software Compatibility Issues
To fix compatibility issues, here are a few relatively simple things to try
- Uninstalling Pro Tools and re-installing it with your Antivirus turned off.
- Ensure that during re-installation, Avid HD driver is also installed.
- Try running Pro Tools as an administrator.
- Updating your computer’s native sound and video drivers.
How To Fix Hardware Related Compatibility Issues
Some fixes for hardware related issues that may stop Pro Tools from opening include,
- Make sure that the sound drivers are up to date. This applies to both windows sound drivers and those of whatever audio interface you may be using. If you are using a second-hand interface, look up the manufacturer’s website. They usually have these drivers available for download for free.
- Ensure that there are proper connections between hardware devices for example that the USB cable from your interface to your computer is properly connected.
- Avoid using USB hubs to connect audio interfaces and sound cards.
Using Cracked Versions of Pro Tools
If your version of Pro Tools was acquired from a warez or torrent site it is definitely an illegal version of the software. Like many developers, Avid have put in place several measures to ensure that any illegally downloaded copies of software either fail completely to open or do not function as intended.
It is possible that if you keep getting error messages when trying to open Pro Tools that the version you are using is cracked or pirated. The only solution for this is to get a legitimate version of Pro Tools from their official website.
Keep in mind that as of April 2022, Avid does not sell any more perpetual licenses for Pro Tools. They instead offer three tiers of Pro Tools (Pro Tools Artist, Pro Tools Studio and Pro Tools Flex) using a relatively affordable “Digital Audio Workstations as a subscription” model. These different tiers of can be paid for either on a monthly or annual basis and the price of each tier depends on what that tier offers. Avid’s official website offers a comparison chart to help new users determine the version best suited for their needs.
iLok Cloud Server Issues
One of the most frustrating aspects of using Pro Tools as a digital audio workstation is Avid’s use of the iLok system. iLok is a system used to store licenses for protected software such as plug-ins and in this case Pro Tools. In the past it was more common to have a physical iLok dongle. This was a USB key where engineers would store the licenses that would enable them to use their software and plug-ins. One major drawback of this was that the key would need to always be connected to your computer in order for it to work.
In an attempt to remedy this, the iLok cloud was introduced. Producers and engineers could now store their licenses on the cloud. With this development came a new problem where if the iLok cloud servers were down, then iLok could not authenticate users licenses resulting in Pro Tools either crashing or failing completely to open. Users facing this problem usually receive an error message asking them to “Select a license to activate” or one warning of a “Missing authorization for Pro Tools”.
How to Solve iLok Related Issues
Before attempting any of the solutions below, please ensure that you are running the latest version of iLok license manager by updating your iLok License Manager software.
The best way to remedy iLok problems is to transfer your license(s) to a physical iLok key using the iLok License Manager and have this key handy as a backup in case of issues with the cloud servers. These keys can be bought from music equipment stores or online and usually cost about $50. In order to use the software, you will need to have the dongle connected to your computer.
Another solution may be to check your internet connection. A weak or inconsistent connection may also interfere with the iLok Cloud servers’ ability to work in conjunction with your computer to authorize your licenses.
Closing then reopening the iLok Cloud session from the License Manager may also help reestablish a connection between the cloud and your device. To do this, simply click “close cloud session” from the File drop down menu. The option to open a new cloud session can be found on the same menu.
If closing and reopening the Cloud session does not resolve the issue and you are certain that your internet connection is stable and your licenses were all active before this issue arose and you do not have an iLok key, the only solution is to wait for the servers to become active again while using another DAW in the meantime. This would be one of those cases where having more than one digital audio workstation installed on your computer could really come in handy.
Plug-ins Causing Errors
Sometimes installed plug-ins can also cause errors if something went wrong during their installation or if Pro Tools is having trouble scanning them. Pro Tools scans certain folders in your hard drive for plug-ins every time the program is opened. If something goes wrong during the scanning phase, Pro Tools might not open. Keeping an eye on the small text on the bottom of the Pro Tools splash screen can give you a good idea which plug-in might be causing the program to crash since Pro Tools displays the names of whatever plug-in it is scanning.
How to Resolve Errors Caused by Plug-ins
For these kinds of problems there are really only two options,
- Re-install the problematic plug-in.
- Delete the Pro Tools Plug-in Preferences. This will force Pro Tools to create a new preferences folder with the next rescan.
How to delete plug-in preferences
First ensure that Pro Tools is closed. Check Task Manager to ensure that it is not running in the background before proceeding with the following steps.
To delete plug-in preferences on a Windows device
- Open File Explorer.
- Click View and ensure that the check-box marked “Hidden Items” is checked.
- Navigate to the following folders:
C\:Program Files (x86)\Common Files\Digidesign\DAE\DAE Prefs
- Create a backup for and delete either the entire folder or the file labelled “InstalledAAXPlugins”
- Open Pro Tools. The program will now scan for your plug-ins.
To delete plug-in preferences on a Mac device
- Close Pro Tools.
- Navigate to the folder
Macintosh HD/Users/* your username */Library/Preferences/Avid
- Delete the file “Pro Tools” folder.
- Open Pro Tools and allow the program to scan for plug-ins.
This should resolve any problems resulting from plug ins and their installation.
There are a lot of things that can contribute to Pro Tools not opening correctly. Armed with the information above and a little patience it is possible to get Pro Tools back up and running again. These setbacks are part and parcel of working with any kind of software and knowing how to troubleshoot these issues can enable producers and engineers to get back on track.