Networking – Share single iTunes library across multiple computers


I have a large (> 2TB) iTunes library of music and videos that I keep on a Drobo connected to an Airport Extreme base station so that I can access it wirelessly from my MacBook. This works great for just me, but with my soon-to-be wife about to move in with her own iTunes library and MacBook, I would like to consolidate our libraries and continue to keep it on the Drobo, since it keeps everything (more-or-less) safely backed up. I would like my wife and I to be able to share the same iTunes library.

I've already looked at this question, and I've already looked at Dropbox and myTuneSync. I love Dropbox for lots of things, but obviously it's no good for a very large library (could I use it just to sync our iTunes.xml files? Would this work?). myTuneSync seems like a great solution for some people, but as I understand it, instead of consolidating our multiple iTunes libraries into a single one, it would sync them, meaning that any music files residing on my MacBook would be copied to hers, and vice versa. This doesn't work for us because:

  1. there are no music files on my actual MacBook, they're all on the Drobo (which is where I want all of our media to live), and
  2. neither of our MacBooks have hard drives that can accommodate our media library.

In other words, I don't want multiple, sync'd iTunes libraries. I want one single library that multiple computers can access and edit. What I'm looking for is a solution that does the following:

  • Allows my wife and me (and maybe later, a Mac Mini connected to our TV) to access via iTunes the music and video content currently on the Drobo.
  • If I add new music or video, the media files are stored on the Drobo, and the new addition is reflected in both my and her iTunes. Same thing if she adds it.
  • If either of us edit the metadata to our media, the changes are reflected in both of our iTunes (and the iTunes of our aforementioned hypothetical Mini).

Is this even possible? If so, how?

Best Answer

I have this set up at home. (Windows XP/Vista/7)

All music resides on my file server on a drive called M:\. This drive is shared as \\fileserver\m\. The Itunes library file is located at M:\Music\Itunes\ituneslibrary.xml.

Every computer maps the network drive \\fileserver\m\ as M:\, thereby making the paths to the files the same on all systems.

Load iTunes on each machine. During startup press Shift (windows) or Option (mac) to select the library file. On each machine you'll select M:\Music\Itunes\ituneslibrary.xml

You can add media from any system by simply dropping it into the M:\Music folder (or wherever your tunes reside). It will not get added to itunes on its own (Thanks alot Apple!), so you need to use iTunes Library Updater (ILU). This will add all your songs to iTunes and remove songs that you've deleted behind iTunes' back.

Some limitations: When you modify a playlist or something on one computer, you need to close iTunes to save the library information. Say you open up iTunes on two machines at the same time, make changes on one and close, it will save that library. If you then close the other one it will save it's version of the itunes library (without your changes you made on the other one). So be careful with that one.