Best way to use iTunes to manage 1.5 TB+ of music, ideally networked?

Discussion in 'Mac Apps and Mac App Store' started by domesticmachine, Jun 22, 2012.

  1. domesticmachine macrumors newbie

    Jun 22, 2012
    Hello all, 1st post.

    I am an avid music collector with over 1.5 of digital music. Ideally i would love to have it all accessable wirelessly so i could listen to it from my Macbook, or iphone, which i usually have plugged in to speakers near me. I don't need to stream it to a stereo, i have had issues trying to set up airport in the past and don't want to open that can of worms again....mainly i just want to be able to access it all from my mac book around the house instead of having 300 gb on my computer at a time.

    First off, in using iTunes as the player, where does it seem to max out for people? I have run it before on Windows with 500gb and it was way too slow, also that was 5 years ago. Now i have been using a Mac Unibody (1st gen..2009, 2GHz intel processor, with an upgraded 4gb 1067 MHz DDR of ram.) and although i usually have 300gb in there (on my internal hd upgraded to 500gb) it runs smooth. If I were to buy a Mac desktop and attach an external hard drive to my 2TB and load 1.5 gb of music would it still run smoothly without slow down issues? Is it a matter of processor speed? I have seen people on this forum attest to 3.5 TB through iTunes...does that even work?

    I have purchased a 3TB Western Digital My Book Live and plan on using it to stream my music to my computer (manually playing folders in Vox) and iPhone, it seems to work well to play album by album using their iPhone app (HD 2go) but it takes AGES to load even 100 gb into the iTunes share system it utilizes. Even then the artist, album andsong names are all screwed up. Ideally i would love to shuffle the whole thing or make playlists in iTunes to start to personalize it, aside from simply having it all organized in artist ---> album directories as it is currently.

    So long story short, is there an app beside itunes i could potentially use to access all 1.5 Tb of music from the My Book Live to my macbook? Could I potentially use a Time Capsule to do the same instead of the already problematic MBL? I know there are issues with utilizing iTunes for this because it basically has to reload the library everytime you close the laptop.

    Who out there has the best system for accessing 1.5 tb of music using iTunes as the player, and if you do is it slow? Maybe i just need to have a Mac running iTunes all the time to time capsule and stream it to everywhere else?
    Don't really have two grand to do that now so cheaper suggestions are helpful...

    Any advice?

    And thanks in advance....

  2. zander macrumors newbie

    Mar 19, 2004
    Over the top solution

    I had a similar problem, but ended up with a solution that is on the crazy side. I have a primary iTunes library in excess of 3.5 TB, and a second non-iTunes media repository over 1 TB. I have both fed into ServeToMe and use StreamToMe to access it over my home network, as well as the internet through a reverse-proxy adding authentication. All this is running on a 2009 Xserve (8-core 2.26 GHz) with 15 GB of RAM, and over 22 TB of external storage.

    Some of the storage is FireWire 800, some is USB. Performance wise, the media that is on the FireWire side is SIGNIFICANTLY faster than USB, so that would be my first recommendation. The thing people don't realize about USB, is the processor handles all the communication for USB, so it's almost like you have to deal with the data twice. On the FireWire side, you have a dedicated chip handling the FireWire bus, so you don't have that performance loss. This is what makes even FireWire 400 faster than USB 2 (rated at 480 Mbps vs FW's 400 Mbps). The biggest speed boost you can give to iTunes is plenty of RAM, and fast storage. Thunderbolt with SSDs would be the best, but that's some serious money for the size of library you're talking about.

    I connect to the iTunes library through iTunes Home Sharing on my MacBook Pro, or through an AppleTV or iOS Device. It takes a minute for it to cache the iTunes library, then it's quite fast and perfectly usable. The nice thing about using Home Sharing, is if you're going on a trip or something, you can just copy the stuff you want to your laptop for that time easily.

    Another advantage of using a "Media Server" of sorts for iTunes, is then you can sync your iPhone/iPod/iPad using Wi-Fi sync, without worrying if your laptop is open. You can use Screen Sharing to connect to the Media Server, so you can stick it in a closet somewhere and forget about it.

    I hope that gives you an idea of a setup that works well, let me know if there are any things I can clarify.
  3. domesticmachine thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jun 22, 2012
    Interesting, never seen an Xserve before...still seems a bit spendy at 3 grand, would hope to get a computer out of that too.. Serve to me is something I'm going to look into, might be able to hook it up to find the My Book Live although I guess you might need a computer to run the server. Either way looks like a good iPhone solution.

    As opposed to an X serve maybe i can get a really beefed up pc or eventually look into a mac and connect that via firewire or thunderbolt to a dedicated 2TB drive. What would be the minimum RAM/processor you think you'd need for iTunes to be able to comfortably handle 1-2TB?

    Thanks for this info, glad to see I'm not the only person in the world who has (and listens) to this much music, I assume with that much your running lossless files? They run smoothly I assume as well?

  4. AppleNewton macrumors 68000


    Apr 3, 2007
    1 Finite Place
    I think I understood the jist of it.

    Using a TimeCapsule or streaming from one is not ideal, I tried that a few years ago - its more of a negative then positive.

    I think Home Sharing has come in extremely handy.
    For a clients home I set up a Mac Mini (cheapest one i could find, i went with a 2010 Mac Mini from the refurb store) like $499 or something relatively close.
    Hooked up their External drive (in their case it was a drobo) and pointed the iTunes library to it. Enabled home sharing and allowed the users to access the entire contents of it Music, Movies, Playlists, etc
    It was a family of four, with MacBooks, iPads and iPhones

    Works wonderfully for what they use it for, they have an AppleTV in one room for multimedia and an express in others just to listen to music

    They use the iPhone to access the home sharing to stream it to their wireless (AirPort Express speakers)

    I have a very similar set-up. Though i use my iMac instead of a Mini doing essentially the same thing with the same amount of iTunes library.

    So instead of it constantly playing on your phone, home sharing will allow your iPhone to access the contents of your iTunes library and stream them to your wireless speakers.

    Just a suggestion, may not be your ideal solution but its definitely doable
    A cheap mac mini would do (max amount of ram, as iTunes is considerably a memory hog), an airport express (optional), external drive and home sharing enabled in iTunes.
  5. domesticmachine thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jun 22, 2012
    Good call, I considered a mac mini but wasn't sue it could handle the amount of music running itunes..I'll look into it. Thanks, for the run through.
  6. AppleNewton macrumors 68000


    Apr 3, 2007
    1 Finite Place
    Oh it is perfectly capable, mine is about to pass 2TB (lossless audio, hd movies, tv shows).

    I think that might be one of the easiest solutions for you.
  7. ReggaeFire macrumors 6502

    Mar 19, 2003
    The total size of the library is less important than the number of files in the library. A lot of the people who talk about having multi-terabyte iTunes libraries have a number of HD movies/TV Shows which take up a lot of hard drive space, but are only a few files, so aren't particularly taxing on the database.

    I have about 100,000 items in one of my libraries, running on a 1st gen Mac Pro with about 8gb of RAM. It runs okay, occasionally it is notably slow when searching, but usable. I think it would be quite usable on a newer machine, even a mini with a bunch of RAM, attached via Firewire or installed on large internal drive. (In fact my plan is to eventually attach my large lossless library to my HTPC mini, once I finish digitizing all my music (still have all the vinyl to go... so it may be awhile).
  8. cheapa55 macrumors 6502a

    Oct 29, 2007
    Sorry to jack the thread, but I have a similar situation with iTunes full of movies, but also a huge iPhoto library that I'd like to share with all my macbooks.

    I attempted to move the iPhoto library to an external drive and plugged it in to my airport extreme as an airdisk but it seems slow to open iPhoto and to close it. Would changing it to a "home sharing" be faster?
  9. zander macrumors newbie

    Mar 19, 2004
    It is a whole computer, basically a Mac Pro in a rack mount enclosure, but Apple doesn't make it anymore.

    My general recommendation to people in this situation is a Mac Mini with 16 GB of RAM and a fast external hard drive (or array) for the iTunes library. Make sure to make your home network primarily ethernet, don't try to serve everything wirelessly. Plug in your AppleTVs, and other desktops wherever possible. My iTunes library currently is using around half a GB of RAM, and 4 GB of swap. Runs fairly well. The limited experience I have running iTunes on a PC vs a Mac leads me to say that iTunes is generally slower on a PC vs the same Mac, but I haven't done it very often.
  10. domesticmachine thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jun 22, 2012
    Thanks again for this discussion, I'm very intrigued by all of it, thinking of getting a 2009 Mac mini on ebay for around $300 and then upgrading to the 8gb snow leopard sems to allow, then linking it into a more secure 3TB hard drive. Then i will just use that to stream music to all my devices and invest in an airport eventually if i need wireless speakers...

    I may end up just saving for a current mac mini with Thunderbolt if the 2009 doesn't work out...seems like it might be 'fast enough' in the meantime.

    Then I can use stream to me to access my music from anywhere on a work computer or iTunes...

    'll let you know how this works out in the coming months. But definitely taking that My Book Live back....ugh its a nightmare, software that just turns it on and off won't open up at all anymore even though its been installed and it took 14 hours to transmit 100gb even with the ethernet cable. Can't recommend it at all.


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