I've pushed across my whole music collection to my Buffalo Linkstation NAS recently. This is the entire iTunes folder including artwork, music, library.xml, the whole kaboodle... (I have iTunes in consolidation mode to keep everything in one place).

Now this is done, I hold down alt and click iTunes, then select the iTunes folder on the NAS (Choosing the library folder I copied across) and am now able to access everything.

However... It is REALLY REALLY slow, iTunes takes ages to load and its hard to even change an ID3 tag... Music seems to play fine though (once its playing).

I get the impression that the extreme slowness is from iTunes's library xml file being accessed a lot in order to update and read/write information. My library file is around 80mb, my collection is about 300gb to 500gb approx. I know it iTunes that is the problem since I'm connected via ethernet to the NAS (not wireless).

So I'm potentially looking for a way to keep the library file on my local computer and then make sure my music files (and playlists) are kept remotely on the NAS.

Is this possible?

Please note, I need to be able to use this for syncing with my iPhone, iPod etc (If that makes any difference to a solution/suggestion made)


The slow but reliable way would be to move everything back to your local hard drive and load it up in iTunes. Then go to iTunes->Preferences->Advanced. At the top, you'll see the current consolidated location of your media. Click Change, and choose the location on your NAS where you want all of the media stored. Then go to File->Library->Organize Library, check Consolidate Files, and click Ok. This will move all of your media (including music, podcasts, apps, books, etc) to the NAS while keeping the iTunes metadata like playlists and play counts on your local hard drive. This is mostly from Apple: http://support.apple.com/kb/ht1449

If that isn't possible (local drive too small to temporarily hold all media), you may be able to try just moving the iTunes Library file from your NAS to your local hard drive and choosing that when you start iTunes with an alt-click. If that doesn't work, there is old advice about corrupting the library file, editing the xml file, and then launching iTunes, which will then supposedly reconstruct the library file from the xml file. This is riskier, so you'll definitely want to create backups of these files before trying it. Reference info: http://hifiblog.com/past/2006/05/11/howto-move-your-itunes-music-while-preserving-library-data-when-you-dont-let-itunes-manage-your-music-library/

It may be worth mentioning that I did something very similar about a month ago; started with everything on the local drive, then followed the first half of my instructions above to move the media to an external drive while keeping the library files on the local disk, so I'm suggesting those steps from experience. Good luck!

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  • Please note, if you follow pberlijn's "fast way", you'll also lose all of your playlists, podcast subscriptions, play counts, song ratings, etc. If none of that matters to you...then pberlijn is absolutely right and that's the best/fastest way to go. – jcardinal May 18 '11 at 13:33

I had the same question and I found that yes, Itunes library file (.itl) could be moved easily. Just copy it from your nas to a folder on your hard drive and launch itunes with alt key pressed. Choose as library, the itl file u just copied to your local drive. U should then see all your lib intact, and can navigate through it way faster. I wrote that blog post, hope it helps : http://geekmeupscotty.blogspot.fr/2015/01/music-files-in-nas-dont-mean-your.html

though Vikash as a great argument against my technique in this post : https://apple.stackexchange.com/a/30667/108834 I answered here: https://apple.stackexchange.com/a/166450/108834

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    Sharing more detail here would improve your answer. Links can break. Link only answers are often deleted – Dave M Jan 8 '15 at 13:05

The fast way: create a new iTunes library on your local drive. Turn off 'consolidation of library'. Add the music from your NAS to your library.

If you want to enable library consolidation later on (to make sure new music gets added to your NAS when added to iTunes) select a new folder on your NAS to consolidate to and go to sleep.

Next day, exactly what you want.

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