PC Power User new to the Mac. External Drive File reference help needed.

Discussion in 'macOS' started by bitterbean, Dec 9, 2007.

  1. bitterbean macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Dec 9, 2007
    #1
    I am a long time PC user and have recently switched over to the Mac side. I have found that getting answers to questions regarding system level issues can be quite a challenge so I decided to post something specific here in hopes of getting a specific kind of answer.

    I travel extensively so I rely heavily on compact external hard drives to manage my data needs. Since I do Photography and Video this means I tend to have 3 or 4 drives working all the time.

    The issue I need help with I originally discovered using Aperture. Whenever I shut down my system and moved it Aperture would have issues finding all of my photo files when the system was restarted. This resulted in a rather laborious task of pointing out to the application where the files were manually before I could get back to work. No good answers on the Aperture forums on how to keep this from happening. I have since discovered this is also an issue with Itunes and probably most of the applications that use a library files to keep track of file locations. It does not seem to matter if the drive is formatted FAT or Mac, nor does it matter if I have 1 or more than one drive plugged into the laptop. Shutting down and restarting the system seems to be all that is required for any Mac application to completely lose track of its files even if nothing has been touched as far as hardware is concerned.

    I have a Drive for Music and downloaded Itunes content, another for photos and yet another for video. They are not always attached when I am say checking email but they are always mounted before I open any application that needs the files contained on them.

    This was never an issue on the PC side. Can someone explain to me how OS X keeps track of this info and what I need to do so that I do not have to hunt down all of my files manually everytime I want to use an application?

    Yes I did move my Itunes files in the recommended fashion. It worked perfectly right up to the point I shut my machine down and restarted. Same goes for Aperture.

    Any pointers would be most welcome. I am posting this here because it seems to be a systemwide issue not just with the applications I have noticed this behaviour affecting.
     
  2. Sesshi macrumors G3

    Sesshi

    Joined:
    Jun 3, 2006
    Location:
    One Nation Under Gordon
    #2
    Are you allowing a sufficient amount of time for the drives to be mounted? i.e. do they actually appear on the desktop before you access them using whatever app?
     
  3. bitterbean thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Dec 9, 2007
    #3
    Yes I do indeed wait for the drives to mount. Try finding any info about this issue in the mac support forums and your in for a humorous and incredibly frustrating read. I cannot believe that an issue of this magnitude has not been addressed. I am perfectly willing to accept that being a New mac user I am missing something basic. My knowledge of BSD is limited but my experience with Linux machines has been that they can normally find the files in their database's. Whats the point of having a Library file if it cannot keep track of where it left its data?

    The only answer I have found that works so far is incredibly time intensive and involves deleting the whole thing and having Itunes rebuild it from scratch. Not deleting it results in duplicate entries of which only half work.

    It seems to be the same issue with Aperture. The only workable fix is to go in manually and tell the app where the files are. It's a little less time consuming since Aperture seems to be able to find lost files in batches and you do not wind up with nearly as many duplicates.

    If I had to guess I would say the OS is somehow deciding that a drive that has been dismounted, whether manually or by shutting down the machine, is a completely different drive and therefore cannot have the same files on it, even though the Drive name is the same as the one it is pointed to in its preferences.
     
  4. VoidBoi macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Feb 5, 2007
    Location:
    Australia
    #4
    Very odd. I've never had that problem with all my drives and iTunes. The only problem is my 200GB drive occasionally turns into a 2TB unformatted drive. Turning the drive off and on again fixes that though. :confused:

    I've moved all my music across drives before, and iTunes usually "just works". The one time iTunes' links broke was when I put all the files into different sub-folders sorted by artist. I just exported the iTunes .xml file, ran a find/replace regex over it and it all just worked again.

    Any odd characters in your drive names? Probably not relevant, but that could be confusing it. Also, is all your software up to date?
     
  5. unity macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Sep 30, 2005
    Location:
    Green Bay, WI
  6. VoidBoi macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Feb 5, 2007
    Location:
    Australia
    #6
    Doesn't seem to matter either way.
     
  7. Makosuke macrumors 603

    Joined:
    Aug 15, 2001
    Location:
    The Cool Part of CA, USA
    #7
    That's really odd, because I'm doing more or less the same thing you're describing with iTunes (don't use Aperature), and I've never had that symptom.

    I created an iTunes library on one machine, copied it to an external drive, mounted the drive on another machine, then told iTunes where to find the folder. Since then I've unmounted the drive and shut the computer down numerous times without issue.

    In fact, I've even started iTunes up a couple of times when I forgot to mount the drive--it complains that it can't find the library, but if I mount the drive, the next time I open iTunes it works as expected without complaint.

    Not sure what the difference could be in your situation. I am using eSATA in my case, so perhaps that's a factor, although I don't see how that would have any effect. And come to think of it, I've read dozens of threads by people using FW or USB drives for an iTunes library, and I don't remember any complaints about that.

    Come to think of it, I've even used network-based volumes with iPhoto, which uses a similar library system as far as I know...


    I'm not trying to be unhelpful, I'm just trying to figure out what the difference in your setup is that's causing your issues.

    Out of curiosity, have you tried creating an alias on a local drive that's pointed at your external libraries, and pointing iTunes to that? Don't see how it'd make any difference, but it might be worth a shot. Not sure if a Finder alias or a proper UNIX symlink would be any different, but you might try the other if one doesn't work.
     
  8. bitterbean thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Dec 9, 2007
    #8
    I have been playing with it a bit this evening and still no joy on it finding the music files. 57gigs worth, you do the math. The drives are all USB. The only variable I am not certain of is whether I am plugging the same drive into the same port every time. I would hope this would make no difference. The frustrating part is that I have started and stopped the machine and swapped drives over the past couple of weeks many times and while it refuses to find my music it always finds my downloaded TV Shows, which are on the same drive in the usual directory.

    My main drives when I am not traveling are 1-2tb FW and they exhibit the same issues with losing file location, in Aperture anyway. There are several threads asking how to fix this over on Mac Support also and the answer always seems to be, rebuild it the hard way.

    Mac support has several threads about files coming up "all exclamation points" after a reboot. No solution/cause offered there either.

    Could you explain the "Regex" solution a bit more please. I am pretty much a newb/by rote kinda linux guy atm..

    Could someone explain to me how a Mac application can insist a file is not there when all preferences and pointers seem to be pointed in the right direction, and at the right drive, and the drive in question is mounted and accessible.

    Btw thanks for the discussion maybe something will jog loose and a solution will be found
     
  9. VoidBoi macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Feb 5, 2007
    Location:
    Australia
    #9
    Regular expressions can be used to find and/or replace certain text.

    The iTunes library .xml file is a large text file with all the information in the iTunes library as xml. It has the location of every file like:

    Code:
    <key>Location</key><string>file://localhost/Volumes/Leela/File%20Tank%202/Music/Albums/R/REM%20-%201991%20-%20Out%20Of%20Time/08%20-%20REM%20-%20Out%20Of%20Time%20-%20Half%20A%20World%20Away.mp3</string>
    You can find/replace paths in this file and reimport it back into iTunes. It may take a long time to open/find/replace with this file, as it's a fairly huge amount of text. I used regular expressions because I wanted to change paths from "/Artist/Album/filename" to "/Full Albums/A-Z (first letter of artist)/Artist - Album/filename".
     
  10. bitterbean thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Dec 9, 2007
    #10
    Hmm. Okay just checked and I have 3 files:

    Itunes Library
    Itunes Library.xml
    Itunes Music Library.xml

    The first one is not viewable with any editor I have.

    The second was modified today and the paths for all music files are wrong. I know for a fact it was working properly from the current HD earlier this month and the path to the Music Directory is correct. But each and every .mp3 file is set for the wrong external HD.

    The third has not been modified in months and i suspect is a copy from when I originally moved my files.

    Going to try a find/replace on the file and see if that fixes it. If not will just rebuild it again and watch it like a hawk for any changes.

    Thanks
     
  11. Sesshi macrumors G3

    Sesshi

    Joined:
    Jun 3, 2006
    Location:
    One Nation Under Gordon
    #11
    First of all, just curious but you didn't consider sticking with a better / more robust Windows laptop and Lightroom? As the Windoze Boy here I feel compelled to point that out :D

    And secondly, what USB drives do you use? I'm just wondering if it's some sort of power issue. The MBP ports do seem to supply power for most decent drives but maybe not in your particular case and that's why it's going strange. Perhaps it might be a good idea to rule that out first. Do the drives work normally for high-volume data transfer under battery power?
     
  12. VoidBoi macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Feb 5, 2007
    Location:
    Australia
    #12
    Odd. I have an iTunes Library (this is the main file that you can't edit) and an iTunes Music Library.xml, which is the editable xml file.

    Now if I recall correctly, I had to delete the iTunes Library, then reimport from the iTunes Music Library.xml after I edited it. Backing up all the way of course. ;)
     
  13. psonice macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Jul 22, 2005
    #13
    similar setup, no issues

    I'm also using aperture from an external disk, and I used to use itunes the same way (got a bigger internal disk and deleted a load of tunes so no need now), but I've never had this issue.

    Anyway, the mac sees files by path, and the path is generally

    /Volumes/(name of disk)/(path on disk)

    If you open Finder, in the Go menu there's a 'Go to folder' menu. Click on that and enter:

    /Volumes

    You'll see all of your disks in there. The apps should always see the disk in the same place, with the same name. So long as the disk names are 'reasonable' (i.e. they're not all the same, don't keep changing name, and don't have odd characters like / in them) aperture and itunes should work fine.

    In fact, it should work much better than windows, because you never get a situation where you just plugged a new disk in and it took the drive letter of another disk (which happens to me all the time at work.. grrr).
     
  14. miniConvert macrumors 68040

    miniConvert

    Joined:
    Mar 4, 2006
    Location:
    Kent, UK - the 'Garden of England'.
    #14
    What are the names of all of your volumes? Have you have given all of your disks unique names?
     
  15. Makosuke macrumors 603

    Joined:
    Aug 15, 2001
    Location:
    The Cool Part of CA, USA
    #15
    Based on what you said about the three files, it looks like the XML data for your library got chewed up somehow.

    I double-checked two of my iTunes installs, and both only have the non-text iTunes Library file along with iTunes Music Library.xml, in which the individual track locations definitely ARE pointed to the right path.

    Yours appears to be using a different file that's gotten bad path info somehow.

    Assuming you've got full backups, perhaps you could try deleting the XML file that it is currently using, and then pointing it to the folder again to see if it properly re-generates the correct file. If that doesn't do it, maybe go so far as deleting both (or all three--not sure what info is in the non-human-readable one) and letting it totally rebuild the library.

    Pretty monster pain to do these experiments with a 57GB library, I know, but it should (theoretically) only need to "re-index" everything, though you will have to re-create playlists--do you use a lot?

    One other thing you might try if you haven't already:
    Go to the Prefs, re-select the external drive library folder location in the Advanced section, check both "Keep organized" and "copy to" boxes, then close the prefs and select Consolidate Library from the Advanced menu.

    I seem to remember doing something like that along the way to make sure I was using the correct library and everything was in it.
     

Share This Page