VST3 folder location - Mixbus devs are pushing hard for using default

I just installed Mixbus32C v7 which was released last week. The preferences page where you specify the location of VST plugins remains the same for VST2 where you specify your own custom folder if desired.

It has a similar set of settings for VST3 but when I set my custom path it ignored it and when I returned to that settings section I noticed this blurb:

Customing VST3 paths is discouraged. Note that default VST3 paths as per https://developer.steinberg.help/pages/viewpage.action?pageId=9798275 are always searched, and need to be explicitly set.

OK, so you can’t get the application to ignore the default paths but you can still add your own custom location.

I still went ahead and added my custom c:\MUSIC_Plugins\VST3 path and it took it and added the plugins.

My question to the VSTerati, are you letting the VST3 installs place the plugins in the default location?

I was against placing user data in folders under the Program Files folder as those folders are “special” and restricted in some ways.

I’m less against an app placing something in the C:\Users%USERNAME%\ folder but prefer my C:\MUSIC\ location.

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I’m with you on putting anything in \Program Files. However, I have several products that don’t even ask. I’ve decided to go over to the dark side. Fine. You win.


@RackedBrain - I sync my C:\MUSIC\ folder to several machines using a free DropBox so I’m motivated to keep fighting the battle but as with you I have a sinking feeling I will soon be keeping all my VST3’s where they belong :grinning:

I use GoodSync to copy the VST3 files and the C:\Users\AppData\Local\TopTen folders to an IDrive folder with my Cantabile folder. That way at least I have them on which ever machine I’m on. And they are off prem just in case the worst. I think there is a recovery history feature, too. Fortunately, I’ve never needed it.

And, I probably need to reevaluate GoodSync. There’s Open source and free options now.


I have my VST3s in a custom location, but I kind of trick the system - I use something in Windows called Junctions to trick the computer into thinking my custom location actually IS the default location. So Windows thinks it’s installing it in the hard-coded location, but it actually goes where I want it to. MOO HA HA!!!

To create junction links you can use an application like this one: https://junction-link-magic.software.informer.com/ - or you can just use the command line. Be careful if you try this - I do it this way but I’m subbing in your custom folder name. It should be pretty safe but it never hurts to be careful.

  1. Rename your C:\Program Files\Common Files\VST3 folder to VST3-backup or something… you just can’t already have a folder there.
  2. Run this command from the command line:

mklink /J “C:\Program Files\Common Files\VST3” “C:\MUSIC_Plugins\VST3”

  1. Now you should have your VST3-backup or whatever you named it, and in \Program Files\Common Files\ you should see a brand new VST3 folder. If you look inside it, you should see everything that’s in your \MUSIC_Plugins\VST3 folder. It’s actually not a real folder - it’s just a Junction that points at your existing custom folder!
  2. Move all of the files from your VST3-backup folder into the new VST3 folder. You’ll probably have to re-scan your plugins in Cantabile and in your DAW if you use one. You can delete VST3-backup once it’s empty.
  3. Another bonus to doing it this way: going forward anything that installs into the default location will actually install in your custom location! In Windows 10 occasionally the junction seems to disappear and I have to do this again, but it’s worth it to me to get my plugins in the location I want them.

Good idea - the programs have no idea the folder is actually elsewhere and if you wanted to put them back in the “real” location you could just move them to the “official” location and remove the junction. I’m going use your suggestion - thanks.

I worry a bit about too much trickery with the plugin folders, especially syncing across multiple machines. Some plugins are absolutely un-problematic - they just put a DLL into the VST folder, plus a bit of data below - no problem at all. But a lot of them spread some of their data across the various Windows folders (User, Common Files, AppData, ProgramData, even the C:\ root), which will not replicate when you sync different machines via Dropbox, iDrive or whatever. Add to that various copy-protection mechanisms which could also get messed up by simply replicating, this has to be handled with a lot of caution.

That’s why I still do my plugin installations and updates the manual way on my three relevant machines.

To help me keep my setup somewhat clean I have built a little tool that scans the Cantabile plugins file of all three machines to identify which ones are out of sync, so I can update the ones that need it. It’s a bit clunky and doesn’t work for some plugins (the ones that don’t report a valid version number AND that renew their file creation date on installation instead of reporting when the DLL was built…), but it does help make sense of the three installations…

Syncing the Cantabile data (songs, racks, setlists, etc) is no problem - I do that via Dropbox, and it works reliably. I also have my background rack within the Cantabile racks folder, so that replicates as well.

Regarding the Cantabile configuration folder, I’m not replicating them across systems - since I have different hardware configs and different plugins installed between my studio machine and my live setups, I keep the configs separate; don’t want to confuse things too much. But that’s not a big issue - my fundamental Cantabile config doesn’t change much over time…




One of the reasons that drives me to madness. :unamused:

Will you be sharing it at a future date?

I have a relatively small SDD for my c/system drive and it fills fast. I wound up just moving sll the VST folders to a different drive by using SYMLINKS. It’s essentially what Torsten is describing- Windows thinks a given folder is in a certain location but that’s really just redirecting it to a different logical location. I’ve never heard it referred to as junctions but it’s the same command.

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Not sure - it’s a pretty nerdy tool :wink: but happy to share.

It is a simple .exe; best is to put it in a folder that is accessible from all your machines (I use a dropbox folder). You open your Cantabile settings folder and copy the “plugins.json” into the folder with the version checker. Now rename the plugins.json to reflect the machine it is from. This gives you a collection of json files to compare:

Now you drag and drop any TWO json files onto the PluginVersionChecker.exe, and it will compare the two files.

  • it will check which plugins exist on both machines and ignore the rest
  • it will check for plugins that have different version information
  • for plugins without version information (shame!), it will compare file creation dates (doesn’t work for all plugins, since some record the time of installation in the file creation date, not the time when it was built. For these plugins, it makes sense to open them in Cantabile and look for any version information you can get directly from the GUI
  • all files with identical version information or (no version) identical creation date will be considered in sync

The program will run in a CMD window and output its findings directly, but it will also create an HTML file “VersionCheck.html” that shows the results in a more readable format:

Pretty useful, but I’ll have to take a hard look at it before I can share it - just ran it and it looks like it gets a bit confused by some plugs in my setup, so I’d better clean that up before sharing.

Stay tuned!




Hi Torsten,

Here is my strategy for VST’s

  1. Always run installation at each computer
  2. Always change VST32 path to C:\MUSIC_Plugins\VST32{folder for each VST developer}\
  3. Always change VST64 path to C:\MUSIC_Plugins\VST64{folder for each VST developer}\
  4. JBridge path is C:\MUSIC_Plugins\JBRIDGE{folder for each VST developer}\
  5. Leave VST3 path as is (usually there isn’t an option to change it)

I use iLok in the per device mode - never used the Cloud option
I keep all the menu shortcuts for license managers (IK, Plugin Alliance etc) and pinned Edge Chromium “appified” webpages in a block in my Win10 menu

Since each VST company has its own subfolder I sometimes leave related in files in the folder along with the VST dll.

I put the sample files for smaller sample sets (when asked where I want them) under C:\MUSIC_SAMPLES{folder for each VST Product}.

I leave the large sample sets in their default locations (IK Philharmonik is under C:\Users\Public\Documents\IK Multimedia\ for instance)

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All right, I think I squashed the bugs - it got confused by VST3 plugins…

Here goes:

PluginVersionChecker.zip (337.7 KB)

Just unzip into a convenient folder, throw the plugin.json files in there and drag & drop two files on the exe (two at a time, not consecutively).

Give it a try!




Thanks…got it!

Hmm, just found something a bit nasty: I just updated some VST3 plugins, and it seems that Cantabile can create double entries for the same VST3 plugin when doing just the “quick scan” instead of updating the existing entry:

@brad: is this expected behavior?

Given this behavior, it is advisable to do a full scan of the plugins to create a “clean” plugins.json for the version checker; otherwise you’ll have funky double entries in the results list.



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I ran the version checker and came through with flying colors :grinning: - really useful tool - thanks!

Good to hear!

Unfortunately, some plugin developers don’t put version numbers in their plugin DLLs, and Cantabile doesn’t read version numbers from VST3 plugins (yet? @brad - is there anything you can do? Cubase does provide version information on VST3 plugs…). Using file modification date is very hit and miss, so the value of the tool is a bit fragile. But it’s definitely better than nothing.

Not only is better than nothing, it’s brilliant! Thanks for sharing. I’m using Beyond Compare on networked PCs, sync is to OneDrive, manually, at now. I wrote some VBscripts, that I never finished, I’m too lazy. I dont’t have a very smart VSTs location strategy, basically its based on default.
VST64: C:\Program files\Steinberg\VstPlugins[folder for each developer].
(VstPlugins and subfolders with user full control permission).
VST32 not Jbridged: C:\VST32[folder for each developer].
VST3: default c:Program Files\Common Files[folder for each developer].
Big libraries on dedicated SSD.
ilok licenses on dongle, not on cloud.
VST updates: not so often. DAWs and Cantabile always updated.

@brad: do you think you could fit this in some time in your development schedule? It seems there are multiple ways for plugins to report version numbers (https://forum.juce.com/t/version-number-and-vst-plugins/7992), also for VST3 - and it looks like Cantabile is not getting versions out of plugins unless it is embedded in the DLL version number.

It would be super to have a broader coverage of version numbers for plugins - it would help me and others who need to keep multiple setups up to date…

TIA - cheers,


That sounds like a bug. I’ve not seen it myself - do you have a reliable way of reproducing this?

As for the plugin version info - I’ll look into it. That doesn’t seem to be the cause of the double plugin entry though right?