Itunes library sharing betweens users and PCs computers using windows XP.

Posted on 2007-03-18
Last Modified: 2013-11-24
There seems to be loads of ways to share an itunes library between PCs and users, but it seems that if you do as described here:

which , if I am correct, says to make a network share of your library and then point other PCs / other users on this machine to that shared letter.

but it seems that only one user can be in there at a time?  the other users get a message that the itl file is locked by another user?

ANd what caveats are there with sharing the library?  Sync only from the same PC each time?  If I rip a CD on machine A, will it show up on machine B's library, since they are (or I want them to be) the same library?  same for ripping on machine b and play it on machine A?
Question by:babaganoosh
LVL 14

Assisted Solution

warrenbuckles earned 150 total points
ID: 18746314
Hello  babaganoosh:

The answer you refer to (which links to still another example) doesn't have users listening to music off the shared file, it has users updating their own music libraries from the shared folder using Sync Toy - that is, they are copying files across the network from the shared folder into their own machine's music folder.  This avoids the exclusive file access problem that you mention since each user is accessing their own, local, copy of the files.

(By the way, if all the computers belong to the same person/family this is a grey area as far as copyright is concerned, but if they belong to different people living in different apartments/dorms/houses/etc. it is black and white - they are sharing copyright work without the permission of the copyright holder - not a legal activity in the USA.)

If you use Windows Media Playe (WMP)r, it can update its local database from network shares, making the content available at different points in the system.  However, there is still only one copy of the data and the file contention problem you mention will still be there (and the copyright issues are no longer present in a non-commercial situation).

In the answer you cited, the music library is maintained by a single copy of the software - iTunes - so ripping must be done to the library on the same machine, not across the network.  Note that WMP can share music databases across multiple computers, so a CD ripped to Computer A can be accessed from Computer B, provided the WMP in Computer B is set to look on Computer A for media files.  I don't know how iTunes handles sharing of media files across multiple computers.

LVL 39

Accepted Solution

Eoin OSullivan earned 175 total points
ID: 18747405
warrenbuckles is right.

iTunes has 1 official way of sharing Music.  Everyone on the network can SHARE their library (from within iTunes Preferences) and other iTunes users can see all the shared libraries from within their copy iTunes and play those songs but cannot copy them to their PC or manipulate them.  The port 3689 MUST be open on your nework & PC to allow iTunes to communicate.

The other 2 options are
a. Sync Music Libraries
b. Share Music Libraries

a. Sync involves comparing 2 or more users Music Folders and copying music files from one to another .. this results in each user having a FULL copy of the music. After each Sync, each iTunes user would have to update their own Library file to add the new music to their iTunes Library

b. The other method is to have a communal music store, located on one users PC or a network share.  If all users have the share folder mapped as the exact same drive letter then it can be possible to duplicate the iTunes Library file from the primary user to all other users.
Where it can get complicated is if several users add music ... and each update their iTunes .. the last user to rebuild the library will have the most complete index. Therefore for a reliable solution you would need a synchronisation tool that compares all Library .ITL files and overwrites all the others with the most recent one.
I won't get into that one here but you'd need a good Sync tool .. alternatively each iTunes user could just update their Library file periodically to see any newly added music.


Assisted Solution

PaultheBroker earned 175 total points
ID: 18822943
eoinosullivan - in your second solution, is there any ggod way to update your Library? (I found this tool - (from the links above) which does this.

I think the requirement here is be able to share a single (networked) store of music.  Sharing the media files themselves is easy.  The trouble is obviously with the .itl files, which don't allow multi-user read/write.).  To sum up the pros and cons of the various options as far as I can tell....

1) Point all your iTune installations to a single itl file: PRO: all playlists and music available instantaneoulsy all the time.  CON: Only one PC can write to the itl file at any time - write conflicts are inevitable unless you are very disciplined, or only use one PC to edit playlists and upload music.
2) Designate one installation as the 'Master' itl, do all write operations on that install, and synch/duplicate that itl periodically to all other machines.  PRO: similar to above situation, but less discipline is required from the users (any 'errant' updates by Slaves will be lost permanently when the Master file is synched.)  CON: you can't update your library from any other PC
3) Maintain separate itl files for each install.  Periodically sync each Library file using a tool such as iTunes Library Updater to ensure the itl is up-to-date.  PRO: any installation can update the library at any time without risk of write-conflicts.  CON: you need to periodically sync each library file, but this can be scripted using the console version and then auto scheduled.  Playlists aren't synched between il files (I think the next version is supposed to do this).  the Itune Library Updater might not work for iTune purchased songs.
4) Maintain separate itl files for each install.  Periodically "Considate Library" to keep the itl files up-to-date.  PRO Third party software not required CON:  As far as I know you would have to do this manually.
5) Wait for Apple to persuade the industry to relax the DRM restrictions, and build out a proper multi-user Library.  PRO: its what you want! CON: how long can you wait?

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