Large iTunes Library on Network External Hard Drive

Discussion in 'Digital Audio' started by MilesNigel, Mar 16, 2011.

  1. macrumors newbie

    Mar 3, 2010
    Hey y'all. This is probably wishful thinking, but how would you go about storing and managing a 110,000 song (650GB) iTunes library on a wireless network drive?

    The setup wasn't hard, but it' SO SLOW!

    I plugged the 2TB USB drive with the library into an Airport Extreme, connected to it over the wireless network, opened iTunes while holding 'alt', and chose the library on the network drive. Unfortunately, it's so slow that scrolling and searching are next to impossible. And forget about AirTunes!

    The goal would be to have that whole library accessible from my laptop and then played through AirTunes speakers.

    Like I said, this is probably just wishful thinking, but has anyone else set up a system like this?
  2. macrumors 6502

    Jun 13, 2009
    Forget WiFi & use HomePlug networking. The Devolo plugs seem particularly reliable.
    I try wirelessly streaming music to an airport express in the next room & it's not a good experience. All my HomePlug networking works flawlessly & fast - no problem at all.

    I have my iTunes library file on my laptop, but all the music on a firewire 800 drive on a Mac mini at the other end of the house. HomePlug gets it from mini to MBP with no lag at all
  3. macrumors regular


    Aug 29, 2010
    How fast is the drive? That may be one of the problems, especially if you're connecting it via usb because USB data is sent in beeps, like this --------- if that makes sense, whereas USB 3.0 and firewire flow constantly.
  4. macrumors G4

    Jan 5, 2006
    Redondo Beach, California
    If you are going to put the library on a file server you need a high performance file server and a fast network connection to the server. A USB drive conected to an Airport routers s NOT a high performance server and WiFi is not a fast network.

    The best way to do what you want is to put the library on a desktop mac of some kind. You'd want a fast Firewire external drive and then from inside itunes you "share" the library. This way the over the air protocol works at a higher level and uses a LOT less network bandwidth. The down side is that you need a server computer alsays on. But given the cost of your library (even if those songs were ripped from used CDs you have invested a fortune) so what's added cost of a used mac Mini and a FireWire disk or even a Firewire RAID?

    In short your problem is that you are sharing at the file level and you really should be using iTunes to iTunes sharing.
  5. thread starter macrumors newbie

    Mar 3, 2010
    Thanks for the input! I'd never heard of HomePlug, interesting.

    For my present situation, t sounds like basically the whole setup is pretty low grade; I've got a slow external hard drive & wifi is just plain slow to begin with. I might end up getting an additional hard drive for my desktop and using the "sharing" option as suggested. Trying not to spend much money =)

    Thanks again! I'll let you know what I come up with.
  6. macrumors member

    Jan 9, 2011
    Here is my set-up that works very well and is stable:

    3 ATV2 (each to seperate Home theater receiver)
    2 Airport Express (each to seperate receiver)
    1 1TB Time Capsule
    1 3TB Seagate USB 2.0 (only store iTunes media on it)
    1 old Dell Inspiron 8500 Laptop

    I have the TC connected to the cable modem
    I have the 3TB Harddrive connected to the TC
    I have the Dell Computer connected by ethernet cable to the TC
    Each of the ATV2's and AE's are connected wirelessly to the TC

    I use the Dell as my iTunes Server and have it mapped to the iTunes library on the 3TB Harddrive. I can stream music to all 5 devices without any fading or delays. I can stream video to any of the ATV2's with no issues. Each of the ATV2s can access the shared iTunes library with no issues.

    Movies typically start playing on the ATV2's after about 10 seconds and are usually fully loaded in about 10 minutes (typical file size is 1-2GB).

    I use multiple iPhones (3Gs and 4) and iPad 1 to control the Dell iTunes library when streaming music. I also have two MBPros connected wirelessly to the TC and a 320GB NAS. I only use the TC for backup of 1 of the MBP's.
  7. macrumors 6502a

    Jun 21, 2010
    N. Kentucky
    Here's my current equipment:

    2 MBPs running Lion
    1 Gateway laptop
    1 ATV 2
    2 TB Iomega external
    1 AEBS
    1 AEX
    2 iPhones
    1 iPad

    I have my iTunes on my MBP (the main computer in the house) pointing to a folder on the 2 TB drive as th default location for media. Via that laptop, I have Home Sharing turned on so iPhones, iPad, ATV 2 and all laptops running iTunes can access the media. AEX is plugged in in sight of the ATV 2 to improve connectivity and works great for the most part. My only problem is I'd like to be able to share everything without my laptop constantly on. Is a Mac mini really worth it to serve as a home media server?
  8. macrumors newbie

    Sep 10, 2011
    Transferring iTunes Library to Network External Drive

    I'd like to mimic your setup (using slightly different equipment). Can you provide more details of how you "...use the Dell as iTunes Server and have it mapped to the iTunes library on the 3TB hard drive."

    I have:
    - a PC running Windows 7 connected (ethernet) to my Airport Extreme Base Station (AEBS).
    - My iTunes library is currently on my iMac, which is connected wirelessly to the AEBS.
    - Apple TV also connected by ethernet to the AEBS and connected to my HDTV by HDMI.
    - A 2TB Seagate Go Flex external drive (unopened) that I can connect either to my AEBS USB port or to my Windows 7 PC.

    I want to use my Win 7 PC as a media server. I'm just not sure how to configure everything to work with iTunes.

    You can PM me. Thanks
  9. macrumors newbie

    Sep 7, 2011
    I have:

    1 Macbook
    1 iPhone
    1 AppleTV2
    1 Airport Extreme 4th gen
    1 External USB WD 320gb drive

    I want to keep my 100gb iTunes music library on an external HD and access it from said devices via Airtunes. Having it hooked via USB to the AE is slooooooooowwwwww as molasses and a pain in the butt right now. Can someone advise me as to what is going to allow that to work and work well?
  10. macrumors member

    Jan 9, 2011
    Well, you can connect the 2TB drive to either the AE or the Win7. I have good results with the drive connected to the AE and can easily access it from all computers on my home network. You may have faster streaming if it is connected directly to the Win7, but then you will have to share it to access from the other computers.

    Either way connect the Win7 by ethernet cable rather than wireless so that it is not clogging up the wireless to transmit/stream. I ran into issues when trying to keep everything wireless with 3 ATVs and 3 APexpress's, but it went away when connecting directly to the Dell through ethernet and everything else connected wirelessly.

    Copy the iTunes folder and all of the media files from the iMac to the 2TB drive. Map the iTunes folder to the 2TB location. Then authorize all computers (up to 5) to play purchased media in iTunes. Then turn on home sharing on the Win7 iTunes and leave iTunes open. Each of your locations (aTV, iMac, etc) should see the shared library and be able to play it
  11. bver911, Sep 15, 2011
    Last edited: Sep 15, 2011

    macrumors newbie

    Sep 10, 2011
    Many thanks! I'll give this a try this weekend.

    When you say "Copy the iTunes the 2tB drive" should this be done within iTunes? Otherwise, won't the iTunes database lose its links to the files? I assume the iTunes database will continue to reside on the iMac?

    Also, how should the 2TB be formatted, considering that I will be writing files from a Mac and accessing those files with a PC? Or, does it matter?

    FYI, the Dell running Windows 7 and my Apple TV are both connected to my Airport Extreme Base Station (AEBS) via ethernet. All of the other clients, including my iMac, are wireless. In the case of the iMac, however, it's very easy to temporarily put it near my AEBS and connect it via ethernet cable to transfer the media files.
  12. macrumors member

    Jan 9, 2011
    You will actually copy the files using 'finder' to the 2TB drive. Then you will map the itunes library to the 2TB drive. I actually deleted all of the files from each of my computers once I had done this since I didn't need duplicate copies. I do copy a few movies over to my MBPro before traveling so that I can watch them on flights, etc.

    For me, my Seagate 3TB go force is connected to the AE, and both my MBPro and my WinXP systems read/write with no issues. It was formatted 'HFS+ journaled' If you are going to connect it directly to your Win7 then you will probably have to format it NTFS. Then you will have to install some software on the iMac to access it.
  13. macrumors 6502a


    Jun 12, 2008
    my tunes library file is on my external hd connected to my albs. when i try to select it as the library file, i get an error dialog that iTunes cannily find the library file? can anyone help with this
  14. macrumors 6502a


    Jun 12, 2008
    Found out that the actual library file has to be on the mbp hard drive, location of the iTunes media folder can be anywhere
  15. macrumors 65816

    Dec 13, 2009
    would it not be better to leave the iTunes 'library' on the computer (along with the whole itunes folder) and just add the music files of the NAS to itunes via the 'add folder to library' method,
    therefore the itunes library is on the computer but the music files are still on the NAS that should remove any 'slow scrolling' ect. as the library is local but the files are not.
  16. macrumors member

    Sep 28, 2008
    I use a linux server running samba on a 1gb wired network

    The samba server has all my music and movies.
    Currently 780 albums.
    The iTunes library is also on the samba server. That way any of my mac's can access the shared library.
    Hold down the option key while launching iTunes gives you the option of choosing where the library is.
    Make sure to turn off "Copy files to iTunes Media folder when adding to library" option.
    This has worked flawlessly for me for 2 years now.
    The advantage of linux based samba server is I have added 1tb hard drives that backup all my music every 2 days via rsync. As my collection grows I just add 1 tb drives.

    The samba server is so fast and reliable that I have replaced all of my internal drives on each mac with 1 ssd 64gb and store all of my "stuff" on the samba server.
    my .02 cents.......
  17. macrumors 6502a

    Jan 13, 2004
    Not quite, ~/Music/iTunes can be a symbolic link to an external drive. I used to run mine like that - symbolic link to a Drobo - but found that things such as genius, importing new items, updating apps, etc were slow. When I replaced my old server with a Mac Mini, I kept the library file located on the SSD, and just configured iTunes to use the external drive. Everything's much quicker, now.

    My current setup is:
    - Mac Mini Server running iTunes, ServeToMe
    - Drobo ( 4 x 2TB )
    - 3TB Iomega Mac Companion
    - EyeTV

    All this feeding:
    - 2 x ATV2 ( WiFi )
    - iPad
    - 2 x iPhones
    - 3 x Macs

    It would be much easier, if iTunes would allow each of the directories under ~/Music/iTunes/iTunes Media/ to be a symbolic link. That way, each type could be stored on different drives....
  18. macrumors 6502a


    Jun 12, 2008
    Do you have the "keep iTunes media folder organised" & copy files to iTunes media folder when adding to the library" items checked?
  19. macrumors 6502a

    Jan 13, 2004
    I do indeed....
  20. macrumors 6502a


    Jun 12, 2008
    Yea we have a similar setup then

    I'm having a problem where all my movies/tv shows album art is missing, but returns for good once I play/refresh the content

    Anybody know of an easy way to make the album art return, apart from individually refreshing 1000's of media files 1by1!!
  21. macrumors 6502a

    Jan 13, 2004
    Hmmmm, I used to have that issue, and it turned out to be a bug in iTunes. Was your artwork added by you or iTunes? I found that manually added artwork was less prone to disappearing. No need to do it manually, there are some AppleScripts over at DougScripts for this sort of thing....
  22. macrumors 6502a


    Jun 12, 2008
    Album art is added myself using third party tagging software. I've realised that my atv sometimes doesn't recognise the media with the missing art work. As soon as I play the file in iTunes, it refreshes in my atv and plays fine.

    Great idea, I'm sure dougs scripts will have something to resolve this, thanks
  23. macrumors 6502a


    Jun 12, 2008
    false exclamation mark on networked iTunes library

    Managed to solve the false explanation mark/missing album art conundrum.

    If your iTunes library resides on a networked drive, and are having this problem:

    Close iTunes, use cmd+K to open a server connection and mount the networked drive where iTunes library resides. Re-open iTunes and the exclamations are all gone.

    :eek: Cant believe it was that easy

    I also added my NAS to my *Login items* in System prefs -> Users & Groups.

    Hopefully this will keep the NAS mounted at all times in future
  24. georgenx, Oct 16, 2012
    Last edited: Oct 16, 2012

    macrumors newbie

    Mar 9, 2008
    Put the music on a nat drive

    Placed the music only on a nas drive, the later wd live books are pretty awesome . It serves the iPad, iPhone through varies apps, the twonky media works well also plug player app plays the tracks seamlessly . My iTunes on the MBP automatically mounts the library up as a shared music and displays my 450 gig up without a glitch. Maybe a later release will add the playlists also...

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