An installed plug-in is missing in your VST host application or you just wonder where your VST plug-ins (virtual instruments and effects) are located? This article provides detailed information on VST plug-in installation paths on Windows.
First of all, it is important to understand that not all VST plug-ins are being installed into the same folder. The installation path of a plug-in depends on several factors:
- VST format: VST2 or VST3?
- Operating system
- 32-bit or 64-bit architecture
VST3 Plug-in path
The VST3 format has a dedicated installation path all VST3 plug-ins must comply with. All your VST3 plug-ins should be installed here:
|C:\Program Files\Common Files\VST3
32-bit VST3 plug-ins on 64-bit Windows: C:\Program Files (x86)\Common Files\VST3
VST2 Plug-in paths
As the VST2 standard does not know a dedicated installation folder, VST2 plug-in installers usually let the user select an installation path. But VST2 plug-ins can also have a fixed installation path predefined by the manufacturer. In this case, only the documentation can tell you where to find the plug-in.
The original installation path used when VST had been introduced in 1996 is C:\Program Files\Steinberg\VSTPlugins. Since then, many different plug-in manufacturers used many different folders. In general, it's not easy for users to keep track of their VST2 plug-ins, which is why VST plug-ins installations often are all over the place even on well-maintained Windows systems.
To prevent a plug-in mess, it is recommended to decide on a single installation folder for all VST2 plug-ins and stick with it as far as possible.
Since it corresponds to the defined VST3 plug-in folder, this path is a good choice for all VST2 plug-ins:
C:\Program Files\Common Files\VST2
32-bit plug-ins on 64-bit Windows: C:\Program Files (x86)\Common Files\VST2
Any other folder your VST host application is scanning during startup by default is also suitable. But, to keep plug-in installations independent from a specific VST host release, never install plug-ins into the program folder of the VST host application or any other program!
The following chart includes other common VST2 paths. Depending on the program version, these folders are the default VST2 folders in Cubase and Nuendo.
C:\Program Files\Common Files\VST2
C:\Program Files\Common Files\Steinberg\VST2
32-bit plug-ins on 64-bit Windows: C:\Program Files (x86)\Steinberg\VstPlugins
In any case, remember that your VST host application must know the installation paths of your VST2 plug-ins.
In Cubase and Nuendo, the list of monitored VST2 folders can be managed here:
|Cubase 8/Nuendo 7
|Devices > Plug-in Manager > Plug-in Manager Settings (click on gear symbol)
|older Cubase/Nuendo versions
|Devices > Plug-in Information > VST Plug-ins > VST 2.x Plug-in Paths
Plug-ins can consist of several files on the hard disk and might be spread over several folders. Apart from that, the original installation path might be stored in the registry of Windows. Therefore, moving a plug-in from one folder to a different folder can render it unusable. In many cases, uninstalling and reinstalling a plug-in is the better way, if you really need to change the installation path of a plug-in. Also remember that your VST host application must know the new installation path.
Many plug-in installers offer to choose a custom installation path for sample content and other libraries. In this case, plug-in and related content is being installed separately. The content management (adding, moving or deleting content) is plug-in specific. Please refer to the plug-in's documentation for more details.
If an installed plug-in is not available in your host application:
- Check if the installation path is actually monitored by your VST host application.
- Remember that 32-bit hosts cannot load 64-bit plug-ins while using 32-bit plug-ins in 64-bit hosts require a bridging solution. Read more...
- The plug-in installation might be corrupted (plug-in cannot be found in the expected folder or is incomplete). Check the plug-in manufacturer's website for an update. Uninstall via Control Panel > Programs & Features and re-install the latest version of the plug-in (preferably as administrator).