super-slow iTunes library on external drive

Discussion in 'MacBook Air' started by roncron, Aug 30, 2011.

  1. roncron macrumors regular

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    Aug 15, 2011
    #1
    I have a huge iTunes library, which I keep on an external USB drive, and only run iTunes when this drive is plugged in. I'm guessing that some of you are in the same boat, especially if your SSD is 128gb or smaller.

    When I run iTunes, performance is painfully slow compared to my previous setup, a 3-year-old Dell core 2 duo with an internal hard drive that was large enough to hold the iTunes library.

    If you also keep your iTunes library on an external USB drive, please let me know whether you're having slow performance, too, or whether it works well for you. Also, please let me know whether you're using a 2011 or 2010 Air; I'm using a 2010 (the maxed-out 13" model), and the difference b/w Core 2 Duo and Sandy Bridge might explain part of the problem.

    Finally, the problem might be due to the external drive being a 5400rpm drive. I don't mind buying a 7200rpm drive if that'll help the problem, but if the problem is likely not due to the drive speed, then I'd rather not spend the money.

    I appreciate any help. Thanks!

    Ron
     
  2. Tomorrow macrumors 604

    Tomorrow

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    #2
    Where is your iTunes library file located, on your HD or on the external? I've found that having the library on the internal HD can make a big difference in performance, especially during loading.
     
  3. o JRoD o macrumors member

    o JRoD o

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    #3
    Hi Ron,

    I have my 2011 MacBook Air connected to an external drive for media streaming. When streaming music and movies last night, I had no issues. This was with the drive connected directly to the Air, and also with the drive connected to my Airport Extreme. I was able to watch Avatar (2.3GB file) with no lag or slowness. I have the 500GB G Drive Slim.

    Hope that helps shed some light.

    Jerod
     
  4. roncron thread starter macrumors regular

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    Aug 15, 2011
    #4
    Do you mean the file "iTunes library.itl"? It's on the external drive, along with the "iTunes library.xml" and related files.

    Your comment sounds extremely promising. But do I just move the file "iTunes library.itl" from the external drive to the Music/myusername/iTunes folder of my SSD? I'm leery about making any changes - I have bad memories of spending many tedious hours rebuilding my iTunes library after destroying it by making seemingly innocent changes.

    Thanks.
     
  5. Tomorrow macrumors 604

    Tomorrow

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    #5
    Yes, I mean the .itl file.

    There's a setting in the iTunes application that allows you to point to where you want iTunes to look for that file. Set it to your internal drive, then move ALL of the iTunes library files (including the .xml and other files in that folder) to that folder on your internal drive.

    DISCLAIMER: Might be a good idea to back up those files before you proceed...you know, just in case. ;)
     
  6. roncron thread starter macrumors regular

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    #6
    Holy crap, what a difference! Thanks, Tomorrow, your suggestion completely solved my problem.

    Jerod, thanks for your reply, too.

    -Ron
     
  7. o JRoD o macrumors member

    o JRoD o

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    #7
    Well now I'm curious! :)

    So you moved the library.itl file, .xml file, as well as other files to your the internal drive, but kept all your media on the external?
     
  8. Tomorrow macrumors 604

    Tomorrow

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  9. bursthead macrumors 6502

    bursthead

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    #9
    Another option is save your library to google music and stream instead of using the the external hd?
     
  10. ZipZap macrumors 603

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    Dec 14, 2007
    #10
    Recently moved my itunes to the SSD...Huge difference. Itunes loads instantly.

    I use supersync to offload larger files from iTunes so I can keep the most used stuff on the SSD.
     
  11. roncron thread starter macrumors regular

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    Aug 15, 2011
    #11
    Correct.

    If you're interested in trying what I did, first see whether your "iTunes Library.itl" file is on your Air's SSD or on the external drive. If it's on the external drive, then you might benefit as I did from Tomorrow's suggestion. If it's already on your Air's SSD, then you're already enjoying the better iTunes performance that I was able to achieve by following Tomorrow's suggestion.

    If the "iTunes Library.itl" file is on your external drive, you can try what I did, which is this:

    Before doing anything, open iTunes, then Preferences > Advanced, and make a note of the location of your iTunes media library. It should be a folder on your external drive. Then quit iTunes.

    The external drive has a folder "iTunes" which contains these files:

    iTunes Library.itl
    iTunes Library.xml
    iTunes Library Genius.itdb
    iTunes Library Extras.itdb
    iTunes Music Library.xml

    plus some folders, such as iTunes Music or iTunes media.

    I backed up these five files.

    Your SSD contains a folder "Music" with a subfolder "iTunes." It'll already have most of these files, though the date stamps will likely be older. I backed up these files, then deleted them.

    Then I moved the five files from the external drive to the "iTunes" folder on the SSD.

    Then, start up iTunes while holding the SHIFT key down. It will ask you whether you want to start a new iTunes library or use an existing one. Choose existing, then browse to the iTunes folder on your SSD and choose the file "iTunes Library.itl".

    In iTunes, go back to Preferences > Advanced. Note the location of the iTunes media library. In my case, this changed to a folder on my SSD - that's not what we want. So, change this back to the original folder on the SSD that holds your iTunes media library (the location I asked you to note at the beginning of all these steps).

    At this point, your external drive holds all your music and other content, as before, but your iTunes Library.itl and related files are on your SSD (and they take up minimal space), which results in dramatically faster iTunes performance than when these files are on the external drive.

    Despite the lengthy instructions, the entire process takes just a couple minutes. But be careful.

    You can get more info on using an external drive to hold your iTunes media from iLounge.com.
     
  12. o JRoD o macrumors member

    o JRoD o

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    #12
    My library files are already on the SSD. Guess that also explains why things were so snappy. :) Appreciate the instructions though Ron, and Tomorrow. This is why I keep coming back to these forums.
     
  13. DaveBBB macrumors newbie

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    Apr 23, 2015
    #13
    Another type of solve to make itunes much faster

    Slowness is also caused by the option for iTunes managing your music folders (by artist, album, etc). Even though I'm not changing any ID3 info tags that affect the folder structure, this setting causes any change to take 5x longer than it should.

    My test on both a 2011 and 2014 Macbook pro took 2 minutes initially, un-checking this option brought the time down to 26 seconds for updating the grouping field on 30 tracks.
     
  14. banies23 macrumors newbie

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    Apr 27, 2015
    #14
    Storing on an external drive is almost always slower. People do it because modern internal drives are too small for the quantity of multimedia people want to have. Still, it should work.

    I don't have an iTunes movie collection. If I did I would make a separate library for movies and store that on the external. I don't need instant or constant access to movies (frankly some I only watch every 5 years).

    If you are using this drive for backups then: 1) You need to rethink your strategy because a backup means having at least two copies of everything on two different drives. 2) iTunes may be competing for transfer with whatever backup system you are using.

    Does the drive not appear at all, or does it just not appear on the desktop or sidebar? For those you may need to adjust Finder preference settings so it displays external drives.
     
  15. Boyd01 macrumors 68040

    Boyd01

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    #15
    Geez, this is a four year old thread and the OP was comparing the 2010 and 2011 MBA. Both of those machines only had USB 2.0 interfaces. I have a 2013 MBA now but used to have a 2011. The speed difference with USB 3.0 is huge. On the 2011 MBA I got a little over 30 MB/sec with an external drive, my inexpensive USB 3.0 drives on the 2013 MBA clock around 170 MB/sec.

    My iTunes library is over 1TB and I have more than 600 movies and 600 TV shows on a USB 3.0 drive connected to my 2012 Mac Mini. I let iTunes manage the library. It is very responsive.
     
  16. motrek macrumors 68020

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    Sep 14, 2012
    #16
    Drive speed is irrelevant in this case. The big win is having the index files on the internal drive, as somebody else mentioned earlier.
     
  17. DaveBBB macrumors newbie

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    Apr 23, 2015
    #17
    I have to agree. I experimented with USB 3 vs USB 2 and this made no difference due to the way those technologies access the small files. The biggest thing was to stop letting iTunes manage my folder structure.
     
  18. thehumanburrito macrumors newbie

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    Feb 23, 2013
    #18

    Holy crap! My itunes is soooo much faster! Thanks!
     
  19. Boyd01 macrumors 68040

    Boyd01

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    #19
    Just be careful about keeping the .itl file on the SSD and media on an external drive. If you accidentally start iTunes and the external drive is not connected, you can corrupt the library database and end up with a mess. This happened to me before, so I always keep the media and library files on the same disk now.
     

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