Migrate your iTunes library off your local hard drive (updated)

Migrate your iTunes library off your local hard drive (updated)

Summary: If you're a MacBook/MBP user like me, you're probably always filling up your hard drive. It's a constant battle for space with me, delete something to make room for something else. So I decided to do something drastic - I deleted my 60GB iTunes library from my hard drive today.

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TOPICS: Hardware
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Airport Disk UtilityUPDATE: This setup worked for me for about three days, then suddenly iTunes couldn't find any of my music. I got a horrible sinking feeling after clicking on track after track only to be greeted by the ugly error that my music couldn't be found and "would I like to find it?" Ugh. For more see AirDisk and iTunes problems.

If you're a MacBook/MBP user like me, you're probably always filling up your hard drive. It's a constant battle for space with me, delete something to make room for something else. Archive, backup, purge, repeat.

And with a new penchant for playing with my new Sony HDR-HC7 HD camcorder and iMovie, hard drive space becomes even more of a premium. So I decided to do something drastic - I deleted my 60GB iTunes library from my hard drive today.

No, I haven't completely lost my mind. I just decided to act on an excellent tip that I found on TUAW.com called Use your iTunes library over AirPort Disk. The little nugget is loaded with vitamin wonderful and if you own one of Apple's new snappy Airport Extreme Base Stations (AEBS) - the 802.11n variety - then it behooves you to give the tip a try.

Essentially it involves moving your iTunes library to an external USB hard drive that you then attach to the AEBS. The new AEBS allows you to use the built-in USB port for hard drive sharing also called "NAS" or Network Attached Storage. Then all you need to do is to edit the iTunes advance preference to point to the library's new location.

Important: Before you delete the local iTunes library, make a backup of the entire iTunes folder in a safe local.

Two things to consider:

1. The AEBS only has one USB port. If you want to use a USB printer and a hard drive with the AEBS you'll need to use a powered USB hub. One tip: stay away from the Belkin 4-port USB 2.0 hub that Apple sells, it doesn't work.

2. Deleting your local iTunes library on a portable means no iTunes when you're away from you home network. This can be easily remedied by connecting your iPod when you want to listen to tunes away from home. The other thing you can do is create an additional iTunes library (mine is called "iTunes Local") on your local hard drive and just keep a few CDs of your favorite tunes in it, just in case. To switch libraries, hold down the option key when launching iTunes.

Migrating your iTunes library to an AirDisk is a great way to save a lot of space on your local hard drive. Give it a shot!

Topic: Hardware

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10 comments
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  • Great Idea; Not Just for Airport!

    I've had a severe case of the same affliction -- not enough space for all the music & podcasts. In my case, I (a) upgraded my MacBookPro's hard disk -- there's now a 200GB drive that fits -- and (b) moved my iTunes library onto my original 120 GB drive that I removed from the MBP. A portable case that handles SATA/150 drives isn't too much of an add-on, and no sense wasting that perfectly good drive.

    That gives me the OPTION of having iTunes on the go (nice for longer trips where I want more than the iPod's current collection) and no need to upgrade my existing WiFi net.
    WaltFrench
  • This would be great, it I only had a New APBS

    I'm always struggling for space, even on my PowerBook's 160GB hard drive. I'd love
    to offload my iTunes library, that would really free up some space. Alas, I don't have
    a new APBS, and I likely won't be able to afford one any time soon.

    Continue the daily fight for hard drive space.
    CoolCat312
  • This works fairly well on the PC as well

    On an upgrade, I installed a new HD on my desktop with a new OS. The old disk with my music ended up in an Ubuntu server that shares the hard drive. (I know, a bit more clunky, but it works and I had all the parts.)

    The only downside, is that if my network is down, iTunes can't find the music. Then when the network is back up, iTunes won't look to see if the song is back. I have to manually play each song before it will check the location and remove the grey exclamation point.

    If you have any suggestions on fixing that slight problem, I would appreciate it. Otherwise, this is a great concept.
    mtgarden
    • I have a suggestion

      Don't use iTunes.
      NonZealot
      • Actually,

        I bought an iPod just because I wanted iTunes. I would have been willing to use another device, but not another player.

        :-) Cheers
        mtgarden
      • Gee, you're kidding!!

        Gosh, NZ furnishes a "don't" solution, not a "do" solution.

        Mr. Helpful, isn't he?
        mlindl
    • Getting iTunes reset can be done

      Assuming you are pointing at the external drive as your default iTunes folder. To get rid of the grey exclamation points takes a couple of minutes. First, do a "Select All" on all your music files in iTunes. Next, right-click on the selected files and choose "Delete from library" (don't panic, it comes clear in the next steps). When it asks, choose "remove", but if it asks a second question about whether to delete the files, say "KEEP FILES!!!!!!". Once the screen clears, then go to "Add Folder" which should come up with your default iTunes folder (the one you want) and select that one to "import". Since you already have the files on the drive, it won't import anything; it will just rebuild the database and XML file it uses. Should take all of about two minutes with a BIG library (I have done it in 5 with a 150GB library on a USB 2.0 hard disc). Time may vary based on network speed. But until Apple makes a "Refresh" that truly works, this is the best workaround I have found.
      jwspicer
    • @mtgarden:

      @mtgarden:
      Have you tried to just drag and drop the music folder over iTunes when the network is back?
      bergman
  • The Airdisk feature does not work as stated

    I tried two AEBSs. Mounting/detecting the external hard drive seems to be an act of god. Returned in frustration. Looks like this feature works for some and fails miserably for others.
    I wish apple had a set of compatible drives that they tested the AEBS with.
    So, until this issue is addressed by apple, I would not suggest this feature to the world.
    srinidatari@...
  • Did something similar with an older iMac

    I have a 17" Flat Screen iMac. It didn't really like running X.4 on the internal drive.
    So I installed it on a new external drive which I use for backups for all my machines.
    It is a 300G drive so I use it as my startup disk and backup disk for the iMac internal
    drive and my PBP. BUT, I keep my iTunes library for the iMac on a second, older
    120G external where I keep all media. It's all connected via Firewire, works perfectly
    well and since iTunes 7.1, I can download new podcasts while watching a movie or
    TV show via iTunes and there are no bumps, skips,etc. in full screen. Very nice. Not
    bad for a machine built in 2002 for OS 9 and Mac OS X.2 with no upgrades except
    memory.
    mlindl