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I have a couple of PCs and a Mac that I have my music libraries on them. Occasionally, I add files, edit artworks and ID3 tags on one of them. I want to keep them synchronized on all of my computer. Any organizational change I make (e.g. update album name, which will reorganize the folder structure) should automatically propagate to others.

What's the best way to do that? Please suggest a free (as in beer) solution (bonus points if it's free as in speech). Better yet, one that doesn't require third party software.

Note that sharing iTunes libraries is not a solution for me as I want to have all my files when I take only one of them and go out.


The issue is resolved with the advent of iTunes 9.0.

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Here we go. The first bounty question on SuperUser.com for a free, fricton-free and reliable solution. – Mehrdad Afshari Jul 17 '09 at 10:05
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iTunes 9.0 has a major limitation - it only syncs songs bought from the iTunes store – Casebash Jun 12 '10 at 0:54

16 Answers 16

up vote 20 down vote accepted
+100

This answer is obsolete. myTuneSync has since been declared end-of-life and is no longer available to download from the developer. Please see the other answers in this question for up-to-date answers.


myTuneSync will synchronize files, metadata, and playlists between multiple iTunes libraries. It uses the iTunes APIs to update your library so you don't run the risk of corrupting your library file.

There is a 15 day free trial if you only need to synchronize once, and a 3-pack of licenses is only $30.

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Do you have to manually initiate each synchronization, or can it do it automatically every so often? – Herb Caudill Jul 15 '09 at 21:42
    
You can schedule synchronization to happen at specific times. – Stephen Jennings Jul 16 '09 at 5:45
    
This seems to work pretty well for me. It does exactly what you are asking for except that it costs some money. – Jay R. Jul 25 '09 at 16:47
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This question was asked before iTunes 9 was released. At that time, there was no free solution that easily, reliably, and safely synchronized iTunes libraries. I agree that the built-in iTunes 9 sharing is a better solution now. – Stephen Jennings Oct 7 '09 at 1:19
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See this FAQ to see why paying for myTuneSync may still be worth it (auto-sync, metadata sync, customizability). socketheadstudios.com/mytunesync/faq.html#faq12 – Stephen Jennings Oct 7 '09 at 1:23

Update iTunes to 9.0. It let's you sync up to 5 computers in your home.

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This only syncs songs/apps/books that you buy AFTER you turn on syncing. It also doesn't sync any CDs you rip or songs you buy from Amazon. AND it doesn't sync your playlists. Hopefully they'll expand this feature but for now it's very limited. – Chris Williams May 29 '11 at 21:04

Try rsync

rsync -a -v --progress --block-size=15000 othermachine:/Path/To/Music/ /Local/Path/To/Music/
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Will it work for downloaded artworks? – Mehrdad Afshari Jul 15 '09 at 8:01
    
I don't think rsync deals particularly well with the monolithic metadata files (iTunes/iTunes Library*). Media files get copied though. – laalto Jul 15 '09 at 8:04
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Yes. and paths in my iTunes library XML file are absolute, not relative, so I need a way to sync those too. I prefer a solution that doesn't trash my track play counts. – Mehrdad Afshari Jul 15 '09 at 8:05
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bhen: Not all music files have metadata attached. For example, I have ripped some CDs as uncompressed WAVs (to preserve quality and still be able to use any media player) and the metadata is stored in the library itself. – Mehrdad Afshari Jul 15 '09 at 8:14
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The library file have path names in form of /Users/Mehrdad/Music/... on OS X while on Windows it's D:\Music\.... I can't just blindly copy them. – Mehrdad Afshari Jul 16 '09 at 7:31

I'm pretty sure you can use DropBox for this. Dropbox is free, and will allow all your computers to share your files, and file structure. Changes are made, almost at the same time, and you can even access your files over the web.

The only problem is that you can only share 2GB of files, before you need to upgrade (for a fee).

More info and discussion on DropBox can be found at this question.

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Seconding this; I use Dropbox specifically for this purpose! – Kyle B. Jul 17 '09 at 17:22
    
Even taking the external hard drive with my iTunes library off my PC and plugging it into my Mac, it takes quite a bit of time to convert the iTunes DB into the slightly different Mac format, and then if you made changes to the Mac DB and had to convert it back to a PC iTunes DB, regularly, it would get very galling very quickly. – Jared Updike Jul 17 '09 at 18:44
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I have already enough file sharing methods in place. DropBox would be the last method I'd use for that purpose. The problem is I don't want to just copy stuff blindly. The method should be aware of iTunes library stuff. Path names can change between machines. – Mehrdad Afshari Jul 17 '09 at 18:59
    
By the way I love Dropbox too, but Mehrad is trying to make it clear that it's gotta be seemless and for many reasons Dropbox is insufficient. – Jared Updike Jul 18 '09 at 20:18

This may sound simplistic but I use Sync Toy from Microsoft.

It only has to run on one system, your main one usually, and as long as the Mac is reachable by UNC it will push the files there.

It can run on demand on on a schedule. Even if you buy music on your Mac it can keep them all in Sync.

Just make sure that the iTunes music folder is shared out with proper permissions.

Has worked for me for years.

Let me know if you have any questions on my experience.

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I just read your comment on Eric Koslow's answer pertaining to not wanting just file sharing. That,mostly, eliminates my simple solution as I have always had "business rules" for myself in place that keeps my folder structure the same and allows this to work perfect. – Refracted Paladin Jul 18 '09 at 19:18
    
Cool sounding technology, like Dropbox with no central server and no GB limit? – Jared Updike Jul 18 '09 at 20:20
    
much older. Of course its lan only, and not cross platfrom. – Journeyman Geek Sep 10 '09 at 9:04

What I use is to have my library on my big box, and iTunes points to the samba share that I have on it.

My network is plenty fast enough to sync the files I want to. Since they don't make an iPod big enough for my library, I am always picking playlists to sync instead of the whole thing, so that works for me well.

If you're big into podcasts, this is an especially good solution. If you listen to those on your iPod, and your music at home - syncing is usually a very quick process.

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I manage my music on my linux machine, and use rsync to keep an external HDD in sync. I set iTunes to point to that external drive, and as long as the drive is connected to the computer, I don't have problems.

rsync -vru --size-only Music/ "/media/WD Passport/backups/Music/"

You just have to go to the File -> Add Folder each time you update it, which is a bit of a pain, but doesn't usually take more than a minute or so. I tried doing this over a share, but it was just way too slow.

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"doesn't take more than a minute or so"... with 80 GB of music and videos, 2,000 photos? – Jared Updike Jul 18 '09 at 20:17
    
I only have about 40 GB of music, but I think the time it takes is related to the amount of new music it needs to process. With nothing new, a scan is about 30 seconds., and another 30 seconds or so to "download album covers". – chris Jul 18 '09 at 22:37

Supersync I think is the best way to do this.

It allows you to

  • Sync itunes libraries and metadata over the internet and locally
  • Sync between mac and pc
  • A bunch of other stuff

edit: I am not in any way affiliated with SuperSync.

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http://www.echodio.com/ is a great solution if your library is not too big.

I've had success putting my music on a shared server (a Windows home server box) and using Hamachi to map the Music share across my machines. Once you have all your machines pointing to the same music share you can just keep the iTunes library files synced between them.

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Got an email about this one a few days back. Works well - inc on PCs - plus its a 4 computer licence.

TuneRanger - $29.99

http://my.smithmicro.com/win/tuneranger/index.html

Link and sync iTunes libraries over any network!

Chances are you keep your iTunes music and video collection on more than one computer, so you already know how hard it is to keep them all the same. Add a spouse and some kids to the mix and the task is virtually impossible. Until now.

TuneRanger connects iTunes-running computers over any network, allowing you to copy music, video and playlists from one iTunes library to another. Music, video and playlists can then be synchronized and merged with the click of a button. Buy a song on any computer, add an album cover or lyrics, and all changes are updated everywhere. Easy!

Synchronize the easy way and protect your files

Synchronize, copy or merge music and video from iTunes to iTunes via any network. Supports music, video, playlists and more. Cross-platform network transport can link Mac and Windows versions of iTunes. Tools included to optimize iTunes, manage duplicates, remove orphans, and handle disconnected media files. Install on up to 4 computers — Mac or Windows. Now, PCs can copy from Macs or vice versa, plus, you can perform bi-directional iPod synchronization! Using advanced sync settings and filters, TuneRanger compares songs and videos and moves only what is different. And, if a file needs to be removed as part of a sync, you can opt to delete it or have it moved to a safe designated folder.

Whether at home or on the go, TuneRanger keeps your iTunes music and video libraries current and up-to-date!

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I want to vote this up but does it work as well as advertised? Is there a free trial? – Jared Updike Jul 17 '09 at 18:48
    
no but there is a 30 day money back guarantee - "There are no worries with our 30-day 'no questions asked' return policy!" – Josh Jul 19 '09 at 6:52

I haven't tried this, but I plan to: LiveDrive gives you unlimited storage for $150 a year, and allows you to mount your stuff as a local drive (L: or whatever you want it to be). They advertise specifically the ability to share iTunes libraries between different computers.

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I use Mojo for my various Macs that need to have shared iTunes data. Don't know if there is a PC version, or if the automatic stuff is pay-for only (I don't keep everything on all of the libraries: the Media PC has everything, but my laptop only has music, and her indoors' machine has only a subset of music).

It is pretty simple to use, however, and if you use some smart playlists, it is easy to keep a track of new items and pull those across as you need.

IIRC, it will work across WAN, with subscription. I only use LAN sharing, however.

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Not sure this solution would work for everyone, but I use Microsoft's Live Mesh to sync the iTunes Music folder and the two other key folders (Application Data\Apple Computer\iTunes and My Music\iTunes)

It will do a real multi-master replication, or you can set up multiple accounts and have a master library and then a series of slave libraries, which is what I do.

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Similar to what Warren mentioned, this is a free solution (as long as you have the hardware).

Here is the high level overview:

  1. I have a NAS hard drive setup on my network.
  2. Configure a share on the NAS that all of your computers can access on your network.
  3. Copy your music files to the share.
  4. Copy the iTunes library files to the share.
  5. Open iTunes holding the shift key down (you should get the 'choose iTunes library location' message).
  6. Choose the library found on the network share that you set up.
  7. Repeat steps 5 & 6 for each computer you have on the network.

Now each computer can access the same library & make changes.

For a more detailed step by step check out this article.

Sorry Mehrdad I didn't see the part where you said you didn't want to share libraries. I don't have such a constraint because I only play music on my iPod when I am out of the house.

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FolderShare Allows you to synchronize files between all your computers, PC or Mac. You can remotely access those files through web.

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Now that they've added Itunes Home Sharing you can use Hamachi to sync **just songs ** over the internet. I'd use supersync if I wanted more (playlists, metadata, podcasts and stuff (I'm not 100% sure how well this stuff is synced with supersync, but it isnt with home sharing.

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