iTunes Optimisation Follow-Up

Had a scare with iTunes last night. If you’ll remember my earlier optimisation efforts, I put the iTunes database and media files on an external drive. I love the Western Digital My Book, but it tends to go to sleep a little too readily.

I had iTunes open and the system lost the My Book. Not sure why. The drive didn’t seem to want to wake up when I pushed the button on the front. iTunes informed me that it couldn’t save the database. I force-quit, then launched again. This time iTunes informed me that it was unable to sync 100 items to my iPod because it couldn’t find the files. I force-quit again, ejected my iPods and copied the database to another drive. I then opened the database copy and had to point it at the media files. Then it started to remap all its paths to those on the My Book. This took a while, then it crashed on trying to process sound check adjustments.

I gave up, restarted and restored last night’s backup of the database, put it back on the My Book and opened it. All back to normal.

There are some things I’ve learnt from this experience:

  1. Daily backup of the database saved a lot of trouble.
  2. It’s a good idea to have your database (iTunes folder, excepting iTunes Music) separate from the media folder (iTunes Music). If you move the database, the link to the media is not broken. If the media folder is within the database folder, as is the default, then a relative link is established from database to media folder, thus breaking when they are separated.
  3. Put your database on a drive that will always be accessible to the system to prevent database corruption. You can put it on the main system drive which is closest to the motherboard and will probably never become unavailable or you can put it on an external drive but make sure that drive never sleeps.

Currently I’ve set the hard drives to never sleep and the My Book obeys but gets noisy from time to time when it gets warm, so I’m going to consider putting the database on one of my internal drives and turning the hard-drive sleep option back on. The internal drives don’t tend to sleep as they are being used constantly.

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4 Responses to iTunes Optimisation Follow-Up

  1. yashin says:

    I stopped watching video on my iPod pretty much as soon as I bought it, for me the album is king. So it’s all about getting the optimum selection of albums on my iPod. The new album ratings system seems like a great addition for this purpose (in the album w/artwork list view you can add a star rating beneath the artwork), I will want to sync my ***+ rated albums and leave the rest off. I’ll capture new albums with no ratings via another smart playlist.

  2. tunegardener says:

    Yes. Decide on what you most want on it and use smart playlists to filter that content out, then sync from those playlists. I’m going to sync all podcasts first, then EyeTV-recorded shows, then photos, then fill the rest with the last songs added to iTunes. Then get a 160Gb Classic to store absolutely every music track. That’s what I’m going to do.

  3. yashin says:

    Any tips for paring down a big library to fit onto a 16Gb iPod touch?

  4. yashin says:

    I had this issue on my I-wish-I’d-never-upgraded Vista machine when I briefly dabbled with the notion of sticking my iTunes library and library file on an external drive. In the end I added a new internal SATA drive to hold the files and kept the library file on the root C: drive.

    But I’m considering an external drive for our MacBook. Problem is, I know it’ll be more hassle than it’s worth for my girlfriend to connect to an external drive every time she wants to synce her iPod, and I wouldn’t blame her. Curse those 80Gb HDDs. Time to cut out some of that music and archive those photos.

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