“Come one get serious. You’ve gotta get a MacBook if you are serious about DJ’ing” is what most DJ’s will say about DJ’ing with a Windows laptop. But are they right? Or is it just a thing they say because that is the popular thing to say? I’m here to tell you the honest truth about DJ’ing on Windows.
I have DJ’ed many years on Windows 7 and later Windows 8. It was rock solid. I would still be DJ’ing on it if my laptop wasn’t damaged by water. I only bought a Mac because I wanted to shut people up and that really is the only reason. So yeah, you can DJ perfectly on a Windows based laptop.
But………there are some tweaks you have to make in order to make Windows run rock solid. I’m here to tell you what you have to do.
Make your laptop a dedicated DJ laptop
This first point is a tweak you have to make in your head first. And this is where most DJ’s go wrong. Their laptop is not a dedicated DJ laptop. They play games on it, use the internet, watch movies on it, do skype on them, etc. Basically the laptop does everything for them. Maybe it is to save money but it is the wrong thing to do.
Decide now that you are serious about DJ’ing and that means that your laptop is dedicated to DJ’ing only. Dedicated DJ laptops are not special laptops. They are just common laptops which a person only uses for DJ’ing.
That means that the only things installed on your laptop are:
- Your operating system
- Your DJ software
- Your music
- If needed a WAV and MP3 editor
- AND NOTHING ELSE!!!!!
Any software you don’t need for your performance is not needed and will only make your computer unstable.
Buy Windows and your DJ software
Don’t use a cracked version of Windows and your DJ software. I cannot believe how many times on Facebook groups wanna be DJ’s ask me to give them a crack of my DJ software. Just do like me and buy it.
Buy the software because the makers of those software packages deserve to be paid. And also, those cracks are just not trustworthy. They crash!
Don’t use a pre-installed version of Windows
Whatever you do, do not use a pre-installed version of Windows! Those are installed by the store and are full of software you don’t need. Those also make your system slow and unstable. I have an IT background so I know.
Installing Windows over the preinstalled Windows version is not going to make things any better. So buy a copy of Windows, format the disk and install a fresh copy of Windows. For this you immediately have to look at the next point
Make two partitions
This i can recommend for Mac users as well.
While installing Windows (and not after installing Windows) make sure you make a C and a D partition. On the C partition you install Windows and your DJ software. It should be about 300GB big. On the D partition you put your music.
The handy thing is that if you ever need to reinstall windows you can format the C drive and install Windows without any risk of losing your music.
See this video how to do this:
Turn off Windows updates
I have seen so many DJ’s that want to start their gig but couldn’t because Windows just started updating their laptop. And everytime I had to bail them out by playing an extra 20 minutes. If not they would have lost their job.
I know you are thinking “But what if there is a new update of Windows available?” Sure there is an update available. Isn’t there always one? But that does not mean it needs to be installed. Just think about it. If your laptop is working just fine and does everything you need it to do, why do you need an update?……..Don’t worry, I’ll give you time to think about that…………Couldn’t think of anything, couldn’t you? That’s because there is no reason. I’m not sure if this weird need to update just because there is an update available is “Insanity” or “Stupidity”. But just trust me when I say “Never change a winning team”.
See here how to do it in Windows 7 & 8
See here how to do it on Windows 10
Turn off Wifi
This goes hand in hand with the previous points. Turn off Wifi. You don’t want your computer in the background looking for wifi networks. It increases the chance of crashes or skipping of your music. In my laptop I did not just turn off the Wifi. I actually went into the Windows properties and just turned off the whole Wifi card.
That is right. I did not even download music on my laptop. I did that on another computer. And for the few times I really had to I would simply turn it off for the moment.
Having no Wifi means that you do not need to have any Anti-Virus software installed. So there are no strange processes in the background that can cause your laptop to crash or the music to skip.
The HUGE advantage of this is that your system will run perfect ALL THE TIME. Do you know those people that complain that their system becomes slow over time? Most of the times this is because of the internet. Browsing the web leaves all kinds of files behind that slow down your computer. But because I never had any internet on my laptop, the laptop always runs as smooth and as fast as the day I installed the laptop.
See this article on how to do this:
Make sure that the power settings are correct
This is important. I noticed this when I DJ’ed with two other DJ’s. We each played a couple of sets per night and each set was an hour long. So my next set was always two hours later. My laptop would go to sleep during my break and I noticed that after the laptop woke up again it was noticeably slower. So I changed the power setting to “NEVER” so that the screen, the disk and the computer never went to sleep. I also turned off the screen saver. It made a huge difference.
Here is how you can adjust the power settings
Avoid reversed keys function keys
Some Windows laptop have reversed function keys. MAKE SURE YOUR LAPTOP DOESN’T HAVE THOSE!!!! This is dangerous.
On most laptop keyboards you can close down programs by hitting a combination of FN+F4. That is fine because you’ll never hit that combination by accident. But some laptop have this reversed so that just pressing“F4” immediately closes down whatever program you are working on without warning.
What this means is that if you accidentally hit “F4” while you are DJing, a quarter of a second later there is no more sound. Traktor, Serato, Rekordbox or any other DJ software will be closed down immediately, without any warning and without any mercy.
Make sure the function keys look like this.
And not like this
My old laptop was a Samsung laptop, i5, 6GB memory with a rather slow hard disk of only 5400 RPM. I would actually recommend higher. It did the job beautifully. But this was in 2011 so in modern days I would get one with at least a fast drive
Here are some points
Make sure you have a good and fast drive. I recommend an SSD
- On the very least 6GB of internal memory in your machine
- I avoid working with external drives so the bigger your internal drive the better.
- Make sure the cooling system is working fine. Nowadays they kind of suffer because the laptop has to look nice (Mac users know all about this)
- Buy an extra USB cooling pad (because nightclubs can get very hot and heat will slow down your laptop)
- Think ahead. Better buy a laptop that can function for the next 4 years than one that will last only one year
If you are about to buy a laptop try to talk to other DJ’s and see their point of view. If you go to a store go to a shop where they have all the knowledge and not a shop where they just want to sell you things. However do keep in mind that those shops have knowledge about computers but know nothing about DJ’ing with a computer.