We're often asked how to transfer projects from one software DAW to another.
If you're working with very large files, such as HD video, or audio projects in a single ZIP file, you'll need to use the latter approach, as FAT32 can't deal with single files over 4GB in size.
If you're planning to transfer via the web instead, none of this matters, though there are some further considerations that I'll discuss later.
Let's start by looking at MIDI file transfers, because that's the easiest element of any project to export.
MIDI files are read and written in the same way by every DAW, and by a good many hardware machines too.
So if you have several tracks of programmed drum beats, piano and string parts, it's a straightforward affair to save the MIDI file and re‑open it in another piece of software.
You'll only be sending the standard MIDI information, of course, such as note on, note off, program changes and controller data; you're not exporting any virtual instruments or audio files themselves.
However, if the same instruments and patches are available in the second DAW, you'll be able to use the MIDI files to get those instruments to play the same things back — although you won't have any effects or level automation on the virtual instrument output channels.
Newer versions of a DAW may include additional functionality, and different plug‑ins from previous versions, as plug‑ins have been updated, or licensing deals with third‑party suppliers of older plug‑ins expire.
That said, there are several areas of commonality, so it's always possible to transfer at least some data: all use a timeline, and offer multiple mono or stereo audio tracks; they support plug‑in effects, processors and instruments; they generate automation data, probably using MIDI, to control effects and virtual instruments; the job of summing signals together on a bus is a simple mathematical process... Before exporting a project, consider what media you plan to use for the transfer.