How to move an existing iTunes library to external drive for use by multiple computers?
February 28, 2007 8:58 AM   Subscribe

I just received my new Airport Extreme. I'm eager to make use of its ability to connect to a USB drive. I'd like to transfer most of my data — songs, movies, and TV shows, in particular — to this drive, and then use it as a central repository for most of my Macs. But these computers already have existing iTunes libraries. What's the easiest way to make this transition? What's the best way?

For example, I have subscriptions to Battlestar Galactica and The Office. I'd like to order the third seasons of Battlestar, but my laptop's 160gb drive is nearly full. Is there a way to transfer the first two seasons to the new external drive (connected to the Airport Extreme) and keep them in my library? (It doesn't make sense that I could — I'm just wondering.)

Also, I'd actually like to make this theoretical external drive the default location for my desktop's media library. How do I transfer the desktop's existing library to the new drive without breaking things in iTunes?

All help greatly appreciated.

Bonus question: The Apple web site says this about the new Airport Extreme: "Speed and range will be less if an 802.11a/b/g product joins the network." Does this mean that my MacBook Pro will get 802.11g speeds when my old Macs are on the network, but will get better speeds when those machines are off? What about my Airport Express? Will this degrade the speed? (I'm looking for real answers here, not suppositions. I can "suppose" just as well as you can.)
posted by jdroth to Computers & Internet (11 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Yeah, you can set your iTunes library to use a network drive, which is all you need to do. I swear there was just a post about this, lemme look.

Here it is.
posted by mathowie at 9:19 AM on February 28, 2007

You can do that, and you need to let iTunes manage your library, but be prepared for pain and suffering, especially if you ever start up iTunes without the network drive mounted.

I have this setup (with an SMB share, though, so it's even less reliable) and it sorta works, but it's not ideal.
posted by These Premises Are Alarmed at 9:24 AM on February 28, 2007

Bonus answer: Unlike earlier 802.11 formats, the speed does not drop down to the slowest connected device when non-n devices connect to the network. Before, 802.11g transmitters would slow down to b speeds if a single b device would connect. The n transmitters use two frequency bands, so it can maintain faster sppeds when a slow device connects. As Apple states, there is some degradation, but it's not absolute. Unless: you are in Great Britain, where the second frequency band is already in use. There, you will drop down to g speeds.

As for the real question, I'm still looking for a good answer to this, for the same reason. There have been some recent posts to The Unofficial Apple Weblog on this, but none have jumped out at me as the way to go. That's where I also read stories that detailed the speed answer I gave above.
posted by ewagoner at 9:24 AM on February 28, 2007

Are you planning on pointing multiple Macs to the same die as their library? I think that isn't supported.
posted by smackfu at 9:28 AM on February 28, 2007

Response by poster: Thanks for the answers so far.

I don't understand your question. Is "die" a typo for "dir"?

What I'd like to do is have a single library on the external drive, which will live wherever my router lives, and to point the desktop there *all* the time, and allow my laptops to access it whenever they're around. (Their local libraries would be "home base", so to speak.)

The Lifehacker article that Matt points to shows great promise. I've got it bookmarked for this weekend when I try to set this up.
posted by jdroth at 10:13 AM on February 28, 2007

Cautionary notes: Backup the music on the harddrive. They will all fail eventually. You will lose data. If you follow the Lifehacker article (which is nice and how I have mine setup, although I run a mixed linux/windows network) remember to:

1. Use a consistent drive letter across your various computers. This makes it easier to get back up and running if the drive tanks and you have to replace it with the same (backed up, of course) data.

2. Backup your iTunes library (export) if you need to move computers.
posted by i_am_a_Jedi at 11:19 AM on February 28, 2007

I don't understand your question. Is "die" a typo for "dir"?

Sorry, I broke my arm this weekend.... anyways, it sounds like your setup will work. Some people think they can use the share as the local library for all their computers, which doesn't work.
posted by smackfu at 1:11 PM on February 28, 2007

The lifehacker article says "This method only works with iTunes on Windows. Windows + Mac users: you're a different article."

Does anyone have a link to that article?
posted by timeistight at 8:02 PM on February 28, 2007

I recently set up a USB drive connected to the Airport Extreme for a client of mine, and I learned a few things.

First, if you're expecting to be blown away by the speed of this thing, think again. It's slow. Dog slow (and I was connected via ethernet!) For that reason, I might caution you against making this a primary drive for your media. It works fine and well for little transfers, but transfering 1GB seriously took an hour.

For my setup, they just wanted a drive they could share files between, and some problems arose when they tried to save files (from Word) directly to the drive. These problems were solved eventually by changing the way the computers connected to the drive from AFP (Apple File Protocol) to SMB (Windows). Surprisingly, this also helped the speed issue a little, so that might be a good option to try out, if you run into trouble.

You lose the built in automounting AFP gives you, but I figured out of a workaround. I disabled autodiscovery in the Airport Disk utility, and made an Applescript to mount the drive, saved it as an application, and made it a login item.

tell application "Finder"
open location "smb://[login]:[password]@[IP address]/[share name]"
end tell

A little legwork, but it worked like a charm.

Hopefully this will help.
posted by jeffxl at 7:49 AM on March 1, 2007

TUAW just posted this tutorial on moving your library over to an Airport Extreme disk.
posted by ewagoner at 7:17 AM on March 2, 2007

Cool! Thanks, ewagoner.
posted by timeistight at 11:35 AM on March 2, 2007

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