Your Questions: Internal Or External Hard Drive For DJing?

Phil Morse | Read time: 2 mins
Last updated 5 April, 2018


External Hard Drive
Should external hard drives be used to store music for DJing? Or are they best relegated to being backup devices?

So our reader question today goes like this: “The MacBook Pro I want and can afford only has 500GB of hard drive space (but 8GB RAM, yeah!). I use Virtual DJ Pro and don’t plan on using the Mac for anything else but DJing. I like the idea of having my music (about 350GB) on the internal HD but I’m concerned that it will impact the speed of the Mac.

“Is it better to have an external hard drive? Does the external cause delays in retrieving music? I guess I just need to know if it is best to keep everything on an external and keep the internal freed up, that seems like the easiest way to go. Unless you recommend against it. This allows me to purchase the Mac with only 500GB and no worries. I am working on slimming down my collection….”

Digital DJ Tips says:

In my view, unless you’re using uncompressed WAV files, a 500GB hard drive on a computer is more than enough for DJing, especially if that computer is only to be used as a DJ device. Using an external drive while leaving a 500GB hard drive largely empty is introducing unnecessary complexity, expense and potential unreliability to your set-up, never mind wasting the internal drive, and I’d advise against it.

The 8GB of RAM means the computer will be lightning fast for DJing on, and as long as you leave as a rule of thumb 20% of your hard disk available, you’ll be fine. In this case, I’d say 10-15% spare would be OK, so you have got a bit of “wiggle room”.

Frankly, if you need a collection of more than that size, I think you’re doing it wrong. Unless you’re a mobile DJ who has to carry around every tune ever made that people have ever danced to, I think 350GB of music is – indeed – probably too big; slim down, be brutal, operate a strict “one in, one out” policy on your tunes, and not only will you know your music collection better and therefore be able to mix with it better, but you’ll be doing so from a single, reliable, fast MacBook that is unlikely to let you down.

You can now use that external drive to do the most important thing of all – back your collection up regularly.

What are your views on using internal or external drives while DJing? Do you have any experiences you’d like to share? What about the biggest size a music collection can or should be? Opinions and advice welcome in the comments!

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