iTunes library stored on external drive question

Discussion in 'Mac Basics and Help' started by bretmeister, Sep 2, 2017.

  1. bretmeister macrumors newbie

    Jul 25, 2012
    Pardon me if this question is in the wrong forum. In my search for answers, I noticed that plenty of people asked for advice here about Fusion Drives vs SSD and an external HD. Since my question relates to that setup, I figured this would be the best place for that.

    Question: I am looking to replace my 2008 iMac with a new 2017 and am looking at getting a 512 SSD and then using an external HD for the iTunes library, photos, and other data files. Are there problems with having the iTunes library stored on an external drive and having different Apple ID's associated with music in that library? In other words, if I have one external drive with my music files (files purchased from different family members' ID), will there be a problem when different users access those files from their individual user accounts?
    Right now I have one user login and multiple family members use it. I want to split up the user logins, so each child has their own login. But will all be able to access the iTunes files easily or will each separate user ID count as one of the authorized computers from each individual ID. I was thinking about Home Sharing, but there were some disadvantages with that.

    Any advice would be helpful.
  2. Fishrrman macrumors P6


    Feb 20, 2009
    It should run fine.

    One thing to be aware of:
    If you keep stuff on an external drive, you need to BACK UP that drive as well as the internal.
    Cloning software works fine for maintaining backups of external drives...
  3. Foxglove9 macrumors 68000


    Jan 14, 2006
    New York City
    I keep mine on an external and I use 2 accounts to access it with no problems. The only issue you can run into is if the drive isn't ready or not mounted when you open iTunes it'll ask to create a new library or find the old one. In that case you just need to quit iTunes, check your drive connection and make sure it's active, and run iTunes again.

    Also you will want to add that external drive to your Time Machine backup.
  4. bretmeister thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jul 25, 2012
    Thanks for the input and the reminder about backing up the data drive.
  5. Chancha macrumors 6502a

    Mar 19, 2014
    Your proposal is doable, you just need to setup correctly from the get go.

    Each of the individual macOS user accounts would have their own iTunes preferences and associated iTunes Media location, which by default as you know is in their Home folder on internal SSD. Having the entire iTunes Media library on an external, just point every one of these users iTunes to the same folder, but since the respective libraries are still on the Home/Music/iTunes folder then there should be no conflict. iTunes Store account works on a per ID basis I believe, if I am not wrong only the parent account needs to be associated with the authorized computer (regardless, it is unlikely that you are hitting the 5 computer limit, or whatever it is now).

    There are obvious practical drawback of using external for this purpose. As above poster mentioned, the drive if unavailable then iTunes will report media missing, or straight up start from scratch if the library is also on external. And then even when working normally, ext. HDDs usually need some time to spin up after wake, which can takes seconds or more and that's obviously inferior to using just SSD, for people who are used to using just SSD this wait time can be irritating. Also, if you or your kids frequently download or import music from the internet or other media then there is some management needed, to make sure every thing is stored on the ext while not keeping a redundant copy on the internal; the complication expands if you maintain a self-managed file structure via Finder (not let iTunes manage and/or copy).
  6. bretmeister thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jul 25, 2012
    As a follow-up question:
    Which files should I store on the external? Should I direct my whole user folder there? Which user folders should be housed there? What is the most efficient way of pointing my user folders to that external drive? Any other advice?
    Thanks in advance.
  7. Fishrrman macrumors P6


    Feb 20, 2009
    "Which files should I store on the external? Should I direct my whole user folder there?"

    No. Leave the home folder and the "first level of subfolders" on your boot drive. By "first level of subfolders", I mean the ones named "Documents", "Movies", "Music", "Pictures", etc.

    "What is the most efficient way of pointing my user folders to that external drive? Any other advice?"

    Put the "large libraries" that are in those libraries on the larger HDD. For example, these might be:
    - "iTunes" folder (in Music folder)
    - iPhoto library (or Photos library) in Pictures folder
    - Saved movies (will depend on what they are)
    After you move these, hold down the option key the next time you open iTunes, iPhoto, Photos, etc. You will be asked to "select" the library you wish to use. Select the one on the external drive.
    Important: SOME (smaller) files are STILL MAINTAINED in the above-mentioned libraries in the home folder on the SSD. Let them be -- it's just "how things work".

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6 September 2, 2017