A recent debate took place on Geo’s Forum regarding platform stability while DJ’ing with Serato Scratch. I hold the opinion that a properly done Windows installation is as stable and reliable as an OSX installation, and this guide is to help you reduce Serato malfunction to an absolute minimum. These adjustments are also good to use for anyone who doesn’t want their computer constantly falling victim to these vulnerabilities. Step-by-step instructions follow some general guidelines.

Three Fundamental Vulnerabilities that Require Attention

#1: Viruses

Not only can they result in the loss of your data, but any resident viruses or worms will compromise Seratos ability to function. For this reason, always have a virus-scanner running. The disadvantage of running anti-virus software is that it’ll consume valuable resources, so we’ll choose one that’s small and fast. The two best that I recommend are Kaspersky and NOD32. Both will run, update, and scan files without bugging you. If you can’t afford them, you can easily find them online for free.

#2: Spyware and Windows Updates

You don’t need to keep anti-spyware applications running constantly, but do complete regular scans at an interval determined by how spyware much you tend to accumulate. A number of scanners are available which have similar features, but I prefer SpyBot – it’s easy to use, automatically updates, and it’s free. Make sure that you download critical updates to Windows XP which Windows will notify you of before downloading, and don’t ever put a Windows computer on the internet that doesn’t have SP2 (Service Pack 2) installed.

#3: Controlling Program StartupĀ Permissions

Ever notice that some peoples computers have a long stack of icons in the system tray, next to the clock? These indicate programs which are always running, consuming resources and often interfering with important applications. Get rid of all of the unnecessary programs which are run on startup using Startup Control Panel, unselecting programs which are in the list that you don’t need. Examples of programs running that you don’t need are AOL, Realplayer, Weatherdocks, Comet Cursor, and whatever else is obviously junk. Once you’ve gotten rid of all of the unnecessary programs running, use StartupMonitor to ensure that no more will be added. Once StartupMonitor is set to run on startup, it will notify you whenever a new program tries to make itself boot automatically – just click no and the program is denied. Once you have this installed you’ll see how many applications push their way onto your computer without notifying you!

Step-By-Step Guide

Windows Installation

Getting the installation perfect will require making a new one, but ensuring that everything is done properly from the beginning will save you a lot of time in the long run. If you have another Windows installation on the computer that you want to keep, create a new partition on the drive using an application like PartitionMagic. Create a new NTFS partition (of at least a gigabyte), and you’re ready for installation. Since the intent is to install Windows without a lot of the junk that’ll slow you down, we can take a shortcut here by installing TinyXP (Which can be easily found for download on any Bit Torrent site using a Bit Torrent client). TinyXP includes only the basic core of Windows, with none of the extra features that you won’t need. Burn the downloaded image to CD, boot from the CD, and install to the newly created partition if not the entire drive. After installation, when you boot your computer you’ll be able to select which operating system to use.

Install Drivers

Before doing anything, drivers need to be installed, and most importantly, motherboard and video drivers. You should have drivers on CD-ROM, but you can download updated versions for your hardware and burn them to CD beforehand to make everything quicker. If this installation is on a new partition, don’t install network drivers. You won’t be able to browse networks or the internet, but that’s not what this installation is for. Reboot a few times as it prompts you to, and about ten minutes later you should be ready for the next step.

Install Virus Scanner and StartupMonitor

Install one of the previously mentioned virus scanners and schedule it to always run if you want, but be aware that without network drivers, the only way for viruses to find their way to your computer are running programs on an infected CD or DVD-ROM. If this is unlikely, then running virus scanning software might be unnecessary. Installing StartupMonitor is another double-safe precaution since ideally you won’t be installing a lot of new applications.

Install Serato

The latest version is available on the forums directly from Rane, along with previous versions which some people prefer. Once Serato is running, you can either add MP3’s to it from the old partition, or now copy them to the hard drive. If you’re inclined, you can even make a 3rd partition just for your MP3 collection, separate from both installations.

As a closing note, these instructions also apply to Intel-based Apples!


Q: “Why only a 1gb partition for TinyXP?”

A: I recommended making a small partition for the Windows installation on the assumption that all of your MP3’s are on another partition. Once the new installation is made, you can add MP3’s from the original partition to Serato with no problem. If you won’t have two partitions and this is the only one, make the the full size of the hard drive that you’re installing on.

The 3-partition configuration I have on my laptop:

– One 40gb NTFS partition for main Windows installation with all of my programs, movies, documents, etc
– One 37gb NTFS partition to hold my MP3’s
– One 700MB NTFS partition to boot TinyXP. The only programs installed are Serato, Ableton Live, and Mixmeister BPM Analyzer