Finally ready to let go of my MP3 cache
July 20, 2012 6:48 AM   Subscribe

I'm possibly ready to stop toting around 75GB of music, and switch to something 'cloudier'. What are the best options for a geek/control freak?

I have a pretty specific music collection, and a lot of things that won't show up on Spotify etc - including, for instance, personal recordings and friends' music.

Also a top priority is an escape plan - a full download, if possible. It'd be nice to be able to sync with iPhone/iPad in some way, but I could lose that and still live.

I'm a software developer and comfortable with S3 (working on building a company on it), so if it uses that or another familiar backend as storage, all the better.

Or is better to just keep a hard drive with music on it? Does iTunes still freak out when your music collection isn't on your main disk?
posted by tmcw to Computers & Internet (14 answers total) 20 users marked this as a favorite
I consolidated everything onto one external HDD and signed up to iTunes Match.

I just heard about Subsonic but I don't know if it works when you are offline. I spend a lot of time on planes so solely offline wouldn't be so smart.
posted by wingless_angel at 6:55 AM on July 20, 2012

I've been using Google Music, with a lot of success. Amazon makes a similar product.

(PS: the link to your company's website might not be kosher here)
posted by downing street memo at 6:55 AM on July 20, 2012 [1 favorite]

iTunes Match is probably the most obvious solution if you are doing stuff with iTunes anyway. As somebody with one "home" computer with a large collection on it - plus a number of portable devices which are more space constrained - I have found it useful. The service also allows you to download higher bitrate versions of any music that it finds a match for - nice if you have a bunch of lower bit rate music. You can also easily control when you want a device to download only a particular subset of your cloud based music - for example everything on a particular smart playlist. You would still be wise to run a separate local or cloud backup for your music and other files (I use Backblaze to do this and would recommend them).
posted by rongorongo at 7:00 AM on July 20, 2012

I'd definitely give iTunes Match a shot. It's very inexpensive ($25/yr), and it uploads your custom content to the cloud. 90% of my content already had iTunes licenses, so there was no need to upload. The remaining stuff (Pink Floyd bootlegs, recordings from friends, Garage Band compositions, and non-iTunes licensed content) were uploaded without hassle, and available to download to my iPad, iPhone, MacBook ,etc. any time I want.

Not sure what other specific needs you have, but it's certainly worth a shot, especially as you already have iDevices.
posted by The Deej at 7:01 AM on July 20, 2012 [1 favorite]

free Amazon EC2 instance running ampache with S3 for the additional storage? Aside from being able to control and stream your collection from any web browser with flash, there are standalone ampache clients for iOS, webOS, and android.
posted by namewithoutwords at 7:13 AM on July 20, 2012

If you already have amazon prime, it's worth giving Amazon Music a shot because you'll have unlimited space, but mind you, you'll have a massive upload to do.
posted by Oktober at 7:13 AM on July 20, 2012

tunesBag has an iOS client, supports Dropbox for storage — you can install Dropbox on a local computer, something like an always running old Mac mini, and keep a backup at home. You'll have to pay for Dropbox to store 75 GB, of course.
posted by floatboth at 7:26 AM on July 20, 2012

I was in a similar position (~60GB of music, ~15,000 songs). I went with iTunes Match. It recognized about half of my music and then took about a week to upload the rest.

I now have all my music available on my iPhone, iPad, and at work. It did eat my mobile data plan until I switched to wifi only (which is fine for me because I mostly listen to music at work and can use the wifi there).

I had all my mp3s on an external hard drive (itunes has always worked well for that). Once everything was up, I got another external drive and deleted my itunes profile, everything then came back from itunes (with the nice bonus of higher quality for a bunch of stuff I'd ripped from CDs when space was more of an issue). This increased the size of my collection to about 75GB.

It works well, I have off site and on site copies of everything. It probably wouldn't work for you if (a) you didn't have at least one iDevice, or (b) you had a bunch of very high quality files of muisc itunes recognised and wanted to stay with the higher quality format.
posted by Gilgongo at 7:37 AM on July 20, 2012

Subsonic. It's really all about Subsonic.

You set up the software on your desktop. It acts as a server. Any mobile device with access to a network, whether mobile broadband or wifi, can act as a client. Stream your entire library anywhere you've got connectivity. Supports both Android and iOS devices. Works with flac, wma, and I think even aac, though you may need a plugin for that one. What it does is re-encode everything as an mp3 of quality appropriate for streaming (you get to choose), so the client-side is pretty much guaranteed to work.

I've got access to about 170GB of music everywhere I go.
posted by valkyryn at 7:49 AM on July 20, 2012 [4 favorites]

Works with flac, wma, and I think even aac, though you may need a plugin for that one.

AAC should work out of the box (at least, it does for me).

I heart subsonic.
posted by inigo2 at 7:55 AM on July 20, 2012

Subsonic also does work offline - the iOS client caches the songs it downloads from the server so if you lose your connection you can still listen to the last 500 or so songs that you've streamed.

Subsonic was the ideal solution for me because it allows me to scrobble my listening habits to
posted by blue t-shirt at 8:38 AM on July 20, 2012

Similar to subsonic is pogoplug, but in addition to media streaming there's some dropbox functionality. Also if you don't want to keep your computer on 24/7 you can get a hardware device for about $50 and plug an external hard drive into it.
posted by fzx101 at 1:16 PM on July 20, 2012

same problem, but more pix and movies as well...this 'cloud' stuff makes me roll my eyes,'s basically renting a hard drive (at a huge mark-up) that you have to use your data plans to access...
my solution...i carry an extra 32GB microSD card on a keyring usb's about the size of two chicklets, i can plug it into any computer, or i can pull out the sd card and put it in my cost (the adapter came with the card) $40 a year ago...
posted by sexyrobot at 4:40 PM on July 20, 2012

I use audiogalaxy (, which is very similar to subsonic. It's great when I want to stream music while I'm at work. I also recently signed up for iTunes match, as my home computer died and I'm iOS only for personal stuff. I do have the benefit of a home server though, which holds all my music and runs my DVR and a bunch of other stuff. I didn't want to sync w/ my server for music, and I found iTunes wifi sync to be terribly unreliable.

I haven't tried subsonic in a while, but I didn't feel like paying for the iOS client at the time and so kept with audiogalaxy.
posted by reddot at 8:16 AM on July 21, 2012

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