Please help me rearchitect my Apple-specific wireless home network and iTunes library! Eleven paragraphs of geeky details within (sorry!).
I have a big (~100GB) iTunes library I've been accumulating over at least a decade of ripping all my CDs and, in more recent days, my DVDs as well. That
project is still ongoing and may never end. I've invested a lot of hours in encoding and cataloging my physical media, and I want to keep it safe for, well, forever. I'm motivated by a teeny bit of paranoia that my discs will scratch and I'll lose something. I keep a tidy house but I guess you could call me a data hoarder. ;-)
This summer I decided to free up room on my MacBook (occupying that much disk space just for iTunes was pretty ridiculous). I bought a WD My Book Mirror Edition
and moved the library to it. I configured RAID mirroring for the dual drives so I'd have a backup in case one failed. Before the move, I regularly backed up the library onto my Time Capsule (using Time Machine) along with all my other non-iTunes stuff; the RAID mirroring made that seem redundant so I deleted the backup and excluded it from all future backups. Also, instead of connecting the MyBook straight to my computer, I plugged it into the Time Capsule USB port so I could carry the laptop around the house and still use iTunes wirelessly.
I was really proud of this setup until a couple issues reared their heads:
Latency. Playing music in iTunes over this network works mostly fine apart from the occasional stutter. There's also often a very long delay (30 seconds or more) between when I tell a new song to play and the audio actually begins. Similar delays between when I "get info" on a file and the info window appears. iTunes beachballs frequently now, completely unresponsive while it does... stuff. If I wait, it eventually takes care of whatever it was doing and becomes usable again. So annoying.
Latency's an even bigger issue when watching movies. By default, the Time Capsule was configured for 802.11b/g/n compatibility and movies were unwatchably laggy. I found that forcing pure 802.11n improved performance a lot and movies ran almost as smoothly as music, with only occasional, forgivable hiccups and long delays for play/pause, scrubbing, etc. The downside of killing 802.11b/g compatibility is that my iPhone 3G can no longer use the network, as it only goes up to g. I really miss that functionality, for things like Airfoil Speakers and iTunes Remote.
Another issue is the unfamiliarity of maintaining a network drive that's out of sight, out of mind. Whenever I want to use iTunes I have to mount the drive (I run a script to do it automatically at logon). Whenever I leave the house I have to unmount it. I've forgotten a couple times and disconnected improperly. There were also a couple times when I had trouble getting online and reset the Time Capsule, forgetting that the disk was mounted. Which leads us to the next sad, sad paragraph...
This past weekend, tragedy struck
. I think it was related to an improper disconnect while data was being written. Suddenly iTunes refused to read the drive at all. Time Capsule reported a "problem" with the drive. I plugged it into the MacBook and ran Disk Utility. It failed to verify or repair the disk and said I would have to format
it. What's worse, the mirrored drive was identically corrupted too. I lost my whole library and the supposed "failsafe!" Crap! I really botched this one up.
I'm investigating data recovery options. I should be able to restore my files. Not sure how this is going to play out but it makes my heart ache. Any suggestions for cheap-as-in-free ways to get my library back in working condition would be appreciated.
But what I'm really asking for in this question is the best way to prevent this from happening again and in a way that works better than my first attempt. Assuming the drive is not mechanically broken and I'll be able to get my files back, how can I redesign my network to do all of the following:
- Access my iTunes library wirelessly
- Minimize latency
- Keep a backup of the library that's actually safe and won't give me any more headaches
- Use my iPhone on the network
- Require no additional hardware purchases if at all possible
I can't think of a single way to fulfill all of those requirements. Maybe it's impossible. But you are smarter than me, I trust. If it makes a difference, the MacBook is a late 2007 Santa Rosa model, 2.2 GHz, running Snow Leopard. Let me know if I've left out any other details that could be helpful. Thanks!