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One iTunes Library Multiple Hard Drives

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For the longest time I looked for an answer to my disk space issue. I was running out of room on my hard drive and wanted to add an additional one. Every website I went to said iTunes could only use one hard drive and libraries could not span more than one drive etc ... Well, I have the answer and it is beyond simple. This may seem trivial or obvious to some people, but others will find this very useful.


1. All your music is on hard drive A

2. Add hard drive B

3. Open iTunes and point the iTunes Music Folder Location to hard drive B

4. You are done!


Your library will still point to hard drive A for the original music and for everything new it will point to hard drive B. The only pitfall is that you lose the ability to consolidate you library through the built in iTunes feature. Big deal. If your library ever needs to be rebuilt, just point iTunes to hard drive A, when it is done cataloging all your music on A, then go to step 3 above and point iTunes to hard drive B and that's it.


Sure iTunes can span more than one drive without any changes if the drive is presented as one volume and the drives are concatenated or in a raid configuration such as 0, 1, 5, 10 etc... For Joe Public this is the easiest and quickest way to add space. Speaking of RAID 0, I recommend never using it for anything. I don't really care about the potential speed benefits of striping two disks because you are twice as vulnerable to a hard drive failure. When one drive fails you are going to lose the data on both drives. In OS X Leopard it is possible to add to a volume with additional disks, but I have not used this function and I don't want to take any chances with my 600 GB iTunes library. Re-ripping my music is not an option. If anyone has experience with this please relay your experience.


- Chris

Computer Audiophile | Turn Down The Silence




Founder of Audiophile Style | My Audio Systems AudiophileStyleStickerWhite2.0.png AudiophileStyleStickerWhite7.1.4.png

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  • 2 weeks later...

I did this on my PC when I started copying my music collection there. It was entirely unplanned and I just added disk volumes as the library grew. Eventually I had music on 6 disk volumes. This worked fine until the time came to back it up. With, for example, Bruce Springsteen folders on three volumes there was no way to back up the whole thing.


I ended up working my way manually through all the volumes, dragging files to the backup. That's when I discovered the other gotcha: none of my playlists worked because they pointed to drives that didn't exist.


So... multiple drives work fine so long as you keep it that way. Changes are difficult. I plan on buying larger single drives as my collection grows.


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Yes, I've thought about NAS. The Squeezebox will work with that so I wouldn't need to run a computer.


The problem, I've heard, is backup. I have about 416GB of music on the offboard drive. Backing that up through Ethernet would be very slow. I intend to buy two Firewire drives fairly soon. The current USB drive is nearly full, and I need a backup big enough to handle it.


My assumption is that NAS would work fine for playing music. Audio isn't that demanding, and it works great with the Squeezebox. Maybe I'm wrong about the backup speed.


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I am guessing you would have to get a NAS box with RAID 1 or 5 if you weren't going to back it up. This would be a "fairly" safe move, but certainly not fail-proof.


I'm using FireWire 800 for external storage and it is blazing fast. I highly recommend it.


- Chris

Computer Audiophile | Turn Down The Silence


Founder of Audiophile Style | My Audio Systems AudiophileStyleStickerWhite2.0.png AudiophileStyleStickerWhite7.1.4.png

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Educate me here, guys.


As I've previously mentioned, I want to have a backup for all of the reasons everyone else does. Once I get around to copying more than 1000 of my favorite CDs to a hard drive, I don't want to lose all of that work when the drive ultimately fails. That's why I used the word, mirrored, when I said I would be buying two (external) terabyte drives. I've always thought that a mirrored drive appears as an exact clone of the one it mirrors, so, when one of the drives fails, you simply replace it with your mirrored backup. Then restart and you're back in business with no adjustments necessary. It later dawned on me that it would be just as important to "mirror" your computer's internal drive in order to have a backup of all your library essentials.


Thinking about that led me to a site that shows how easy it is to change out the drive in a Mini. The site suggest a two-part process where you install the new drive for your mini in an appropriate external case then CLONE it using the "Restore" feature in Disk Utilities. I like his use of the word, clone, because that suggests to me that you have an IDENTICAL drive (all except the serial number, of course). Given that, I see no need for such utilities as Carbon Copy Cloner, and this would be useful in making the backup of the terabyte drive as well. Am I wrong? Here, BTW is a link to that site:





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Thanks for the link! You are correct. You should back up anything you have on hard drive (HD), including your 'system' drive - the one with the operating system / 'library essentials' on it. If you plan ahead for it, it can be quite easy to do.


I would recommend a minimum of one removable (drawer-type) HD system. One with an "Oxford chipset". Many of them really aren't noticeably noisy at all. Generally less noisy than a Mac mini, and some are silent. Two or more 'drawers' are better for reasons you yourself already mentioned (be sure the brand of HD system that you choose is RAID 1 capable): you can set up a two drive system for RAID 1 ( mirrored ) operation so that your music collection has a duplicate at any given point in time (barring EXTREMELY unfortunate circumstances). Look here for some RAID info:

( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/JBOD#Concatenation_.28JBOD_or_SPAN.29 )


A removable HD system also has the advantage of allowing you to intelligently collect your "playlists" any way you would like, by buying several 'sets' of removable HD 'drawers'. To mirror properly, you just have to buy each 'playlist' set in pairs of identically-sized HD's. OK, they don't have to be identically sized, but that is another discussion. You can even use just a single drawer of this system to create a backup of your computer's system drive - pop it in a HD bay when you want to do a system backup, and pop it out when you are done! This will be there ready and waiting when you need to do the Mac mini HD replacement procedure that you sent the link for above. ........ now you'll need a storage system for all of your removable drive drawers. Less extensively sized than for your CD collection though..... 8^)




"There are only two kinds of people: Those who understand binary and those who don't"

hear here


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Just get a external RAID 1 (mirrored) drive (2x1TB for 1TB usable space). When one drive fails you do nothing except replace the drive.


To be honest you don't need to backup your library because it is simple to automatically recreate. If you have custom cover art that you entered manually then you probably want to save it. I would just copy the local iTunes folder containing the library and the cover art to your external RAID 1 drives. When you change your library, add new music etc..., then copy the small local folder to the external drive again.


I personally don't backup my local system drive because in reality it is all on the OS X disc, except my applications and customizations. Since I don't run my website or anything "mission critical" on my local system drive I will just reinstall OS X when my system drive fails.


Just my simple and cheap way. Surely not fail-proof but it is a good balance between expense, complexity, and functionality.


- Chris

Computer Audiophile | Turn Down The Silence


Founder of Audiophile Style | My Audio Systems AudiophileStyleStickerWhite2.0.png AudiophileStyleStickerWhite7.1.4.png

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You say there's no need to back up the library. I assume you mean the Itunes library file? Isn't this where Itunes keeps all of your playlists? The library itself can be reconstructed from the music files, but if you have a bunch of playlists, and use them to develop other playlists, losing them would be a big problem.


If they're not kept in the library file, can you tell me where they are? I've tried to find them, with no luck.


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Yeah, I am talking about the library file. I don't use playlists too much so I have just recreated them using smart playlists. If needed I would just copy the library file whenever something "major" changed. I really don't care much about losing the play count information, but if I manually add several tags then I'll create a copy of it on my external drive.



- Chris

Computer Audiophile | Turn Down The Silence


Founder of Audiophile Style | My Audio Systems AudiophileStyleStickerWhite2.0.png AudiophileStyleStickerWhite7.1.4.png

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  • 3 years later...

I'm using RAID 10 (2TB usable, with a "hot spare"). I have 2 computers attached to the NAS (hard wired), and each of those has an external 2TB hard drive attached via USB. I use a program called Synk (OS X) to do an incremental clone of the RAID array to each of those eternal drives overnight. This has been working well for me so far (I've got about 700gigs of data - mostly music, but also photos and a bit of video).


Anyone think of any issue with this kind of setup? I should probably keep one of the external drives offline, and only run the clone on it once a month or something.


Digital: Schiit Yggy + Gumby, Meridian Explorer2

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For larger libraries, we like and use direct attached storage (DAS) arrays. When configured in RAID5 or RAID6 you get the benefits of both speed and fault tolerance. Fault tolerance is NOT the same thing as backup, but for primary storage it works quite well. A second (larger) RAID5 or RAID6 array should be used for incremental backup, of course. We also like keeping the entire library together on one volume (including the library files, XML data etc., as well as the underlying media). This makes it easy to move the entire library without to much fuss.


If you do add space the easy way (by adding additional drives over time and pointing iTunes to the next one as the prior one fills up), it is fairly easy to keep everything in tact when moving to another computer. You can: (1) add a new storage device/array capable of holding the whole thing; (2) point iTunes to the new location; and (3) consolidate the library (which copies all files over to that location).




Sanjay Patel | Ciamara Corporation | New York, NY | www.ciamara.com

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