Best approach for sharing media between multiple Macs?

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by Macwick, Mar 3, 2009.

  1. Macwick macrumors 6502

    Dec 9, 2008
    Hello all,

    I currently own a Macbook and I'm about to ditch my Vista PC (with Media Center extenders) for a new iMac and a couple of Apple TVs.

    However before I take the plunge I want to have a plan for sharing music, photos, and movies (mainly home videos) between the MacBook, the iMac, and the Apple TVs.

    I had always imagined that the best possible solution would be some kind of media server that was independent of any of the client systems. This server would be highly expandable, accessible from the Internet and would be backed up regularly. Oh, and all clients would share the same media metadata, whether it was photo tags, album art, playlists, etc.

    However I don't think such a solution currently exists. My first inclination was to pick up one of the new 1 TB Time Capsules. However, I don't know what this really gets me. For one thing, I already have a wireless access point. Secondly, it doesn't seem to offer any media server functionality - i.e. each client would still maintain it's own music/photo libraries. It's basically a very expensive network drive. Oh, and it can also be used for Time Machine backups - but if all my most critical files (music, photos, video) are stored on the Time Capsule shared disk, why on earth would I back them all up to that same disk?

    So what I'm leaning towards (until a true media server comes along) is buying the top of the line iMac with a 1TB hard drive, and basically storing all my music/videos/photos on that machine. I would create a file share for the videos so that I could access them from my Macbook, and I would set up iTunes and iPhoto to share their libraries for use on my Macbook (I'm curious, how well does this work?).

    And of course Apple TV would access the media libraries on my iMac.

    Unless I'm mistaken, with this approach I get to only maintain one iTunes library (on the iMac) with shared playlists, etc., and only one iPhoto library (on the iMac) with a single set of metadata (places, faces, etc.).

    As for videos, in an ideal world I would store all my raw footage in the shared folder on the iMac for editing in iMovie locally or from my Macbook (oh and hopefully I could share iMovie projects between the two computers, but I'm probably getting too ambitious).

    As for backup, I already use Mozy for online backup so I'd just backup my iMac this way.

    So, a fairly long post for a fairly simple question - is there any reason for me to invest $400 in a Time Capsule in order to share media files on my network? Or would an iMac with a huge hard drive (and iTunes/iPhoto library sharing) do basically the same thing?

    Thanks in advance....
  2. tcmacintosh macrumors regular

    Feb 5, 2008
    i have recently tried to do file sharing between my macbook pro and brothers macbook and it is incredibly slow. Im not sure if im doing something wrong though. But I am trying to do what your doing at the moment.
  3. Josephkyles macrumors regular

    Sep 7, 2006
    Here is my solution to some of your questions and my problems I've encountered. As for iTunes, I have all my music movies and TV shows on an external disk connected to my iMac, when I am on my home network I can access all of that via iTunes shared library. However when I am outside of my home network I still can access my Music via 'Simplify Media' it will stream all your music from your home computer to iTunes on your portable device, be it a macbook or iPhone.

    My photo library is where I have trouble. I have photos in Aperture and iPhoto on my iMac. I would like to keep all my RAW files in Aperture and then a Jpeg copy in iPhoto, where I have trouble is that there is no way to keep the two iPhoto libraries in sync. I could export a Jpeg copy to the macbook, but in doing this all of the faces and places tags are stripped out.
  4. evanmVA macrumors newbie

    Sep 14, 2009
    iphoto sharing and editing

    I have been looking for a similar solution so that I can edit my iphoto library from both my imac and macbook pro. I was considering Sugarsync, but it doesn't work for iphoto. Did you find a solution that you can share with me?
  5. melissarae macrumors regular


    May 2, 2008
    tampa, florida
    not sure if this helps, but the new iTunes 9 has "home sharing" which allows you to share/copy your media to up to 5 different authorized computers. something you might want to look into.
  6. evanmVA macrumors newbie

    Sep 14, 2009
    I looked at that, but it doesn't allow you to edit the original files that are stored on the home computer.
  7. velocityg4 macrumors 601


    Dec 19, 2004
    For the iMac and Apple TV's this is relatively easy. You just need to pair them with iTunes and use iPhoto for your pictures. For the iTunes syncing options I would only leave the iPhoto option enabled as the music and videos can be accessed through the iTunes shared library.

    With this setup you will also be able to stream and play music simultaneously through your apple tv's and iMac to have music throughout your house when entertaining guests.

    The more difficult problem would be syncronizing the iMac and MacBook. The new Home Sharing feature in iTunes may help with the music and videos. I have not tried it yet and would likely be manual so you could forget to add music.

    You could use a program like Chronosync to syncronize you different folders. Then set it to synchronize your Music and Pictures directories. This is likely the best option for an automated approach. However, you can only add music and videos to one of the computers then let Chronosync update the other. Otherwise if you add music and videos to each then syncronize only one of the database files will be used. So even though both would have the media only one of the database files would be used meaning some files would not show without being added manually. IPhoto may cause the same problem, but I do not know if it maintains a database file.

    What Apple really needs to do is create an iTunes Server version. So that all files are stored on one central computer but all other Macs, Windows PCs, AppleTVs etc... can connect, add media, delete media, create playlists, sync iPods/iPhones. Then have those changes reflected to all users on the network.

    If there is another program that does this please let me know. Though they must have the three column Genre, Artist, Album navigation for music or my massive library would be too unwieldy to navigate. It must also work between Windows and OS X. Though AppleTV and iPod/iPhone support is not a must for me.
  8. MacKiddyWiddy macrumors 6502

    Aug 18, 2009
    all I can say is iTunes 9... 'home sharing' have one hub mac or sumthing and all your devices will play seemlessly from it.. I have it and it is amazing, even better, its windows mac and linux compatible[​IMG]

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