We’ve had a number of inquiries from people wondering if they can share one big hard drive between two samplers. Given today’s large hard disk capacities it would be convenient to be able to do this.
As a very general rule, if the samplers are a different brand, this isn’t going to work because they each have their own format structure and operating parameters. There are surely some exceptions, where a drive can be partitioned to act as two drives for two different machines, but that would be dictated by the specifics of the two machines in question. We’ve certainly been able to do this with some computer based systems, where a sampler shares a partition with a computer, but it’s not easy and not very reliable.
If the machines are the same brand, or better yet the same model, the likelihood of being able to share a drive increases. For example, in Kurzweil land it isn’t that hard to do this. In fact the only detail beyond just hooking them up and turning them on is that you have to give each Kurzweil its own unique SCSI ID number (which can be set in the MIDI Receive page). Of course you have to be careful not to initiate a drive function from one machine while the other is already accessing the drive. This is certain to cause both machines to crash.
Beyond mere anecdotal evidence, it’s difficult to promise anything beyond this because of the wide variety of potential variables involved. Your best bet is to contact technical support for the machines in question and see what they think. It’s really going to boil down to the operating systems of the machines and how much flexibility they give you for this type of thing. SCSI is a cantankerous beast though, so be prepared for potential difficulties (feel free to search the TTOTD archives for other SCSI issues and solutions).
With the low cost of drives today it probably makes more sense to dedicate a drive to each machine, even if you only use a fraction of the space. If your time is worth anything at all to you this is the best solution. The only big advantage to shared storage space is being able to share the data itself. For this we recommend a removable media drive (like a Jaz) for each machine in addition to a dedicated hard drive. Eventually we expect to see networking become a viable option for keyboards just like it has for computers. That will solve all of these crazy problems.