the empty set

Multiple iTunes librairies

iTunes7 Multiple Sharing

I've been playing around with iTunes 7 multiple librairies function, and I must admit it works as advertised.

I've been looking for a solution that enables me to share a library among multiple Macs, along with its copy protected files (.m4a files), the ability of burning CDs, adding files and synchronising iPods. I never found anything that worked with the 50Gb+ of digital music I own. A server based solution wasn't an option because I didn't want a server running full time at home (my wifi network shuts down at night).

My current solution is a 'music' account on the family iMac that streams to the Airport Express hooked to the music center. The iMac automatically logs in to that account and makes the music available via Front Row. A limitation to that model is that when I wish to add music, edit playlists, add posdcasts, I need to do it throught the music account on the iMac (directly or via ARD). I acquire most of my music through my MBP, ripping it or via the iTS, so it's not ideal.

iTunes' feature of selecting a library at startup along with Apple's new Airport Extreme might be a beginning of a solution. Launch iTunes with the option key depressed - like Photo - and it will prompt you for a library. Point it to a iTunes Library file and Bob's your uncle. The library can be stored locally, on an external drive or a server volume, it works like a charm. Moreover, iTunes remembers that last library loaded (in case your forget to press on option).

Now imagine your library on an external drive hocked to your Airport Extreme. The music account could load it by default when launched. Working on my MBP, I could access my entire library when I'm at home, and carry a subset with me when I'm on the road. The iMac can be offline, the library remains accessible.

The only downside is how do you backup?. The drive needs to be USB, and most affordable USB external drives don't offer RAID 1 security, and thoses that do are big, and noisy. Nevertheless, this solution might fit in my current backup scheme, where the music drive would be backed up through my MBP during its regular backup cycles.

Hmm. Would I be looking for an excuse to upgrade to 802.11n?

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Reponses to “Multiple iTunes librairies”

#1 by Enrique

09:33 on 8 April 2007

It seems like my iPod auto-syncs with the currently loaded library which confuses me slightly. Also, the selected playlists settings seem to remain on the iTunes side and not the libraries' which is also quite bizarre.

What is your experience syncing an iPod with multiple libraries?

#2 by David Roessli

12:49 on 9 April 2007

Few and far apart. I only sync my calendar and contact info with my iPods.

This results from the fact that my truly mobile iPod is a 1Gb Nano I picked up at a slashed price just before the 2nd generation Nanos were released, and such little storage requires manual syncing. My other iPod is a 30Gb 3G that sits in the car, and only make his way back home before a long trip in the car.

iPod syncing has always been an issue with me as it relies on a single library to perform at its best. Mine gets hooked up to two desktop Macs and a MBP on a weekly basis, so I quickly disabled the music/playlist/podcast syncing. I don't maintain consistent libraries over all the computers I use. The only library I try to maintain up-to-date is my home Airport Disk shared one. I regularly drag my new tracks to it, but I haven't yet found n efficient way of doing so. I have a playlist on my MBP with the latest tracks I need to add, but you still need to export them somehow from one lib in order to import to another, which still is a drag. I'm working on an Automator script that will do it or me, but haven't got around to polishing it yet.

I would believe that using multiple libraries with an iPod is a bit like using an iPod on multiple computers, you have to switch to "Manually manage music" in the iPod's preference pane on iTunes.

So no, iPod syncing isn't a feature I use too much.

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