iTunes help URGENTLY needed - Expert advice ONLY, please

Boomzilla -- Fri, 10/23/2009 - 11:48

 I'm trying to set up a PC as a music server using iTunes software.  My music is currently on an external, USB HDD.  My current iTunes library file is on my MacBook Pro.  I want to move the library file from the Mac to the PC.
There are issues with this:
1.  The Mac and the PC use different file structures.  The PC wants a drive letter rather than a path name
2.  If I just plug in the external HDD on the PC and ask the PC version of  iTunes to recognize the tracks, it will do so, but all the album cover art and additional information that I've manually entered into the Mac iTunes copy will be gone.  I want to preserve this information.
3.  Although I can export the iTunes library file from the Mac (Library.xml), there is no option on the PC version of iTunes to import that library.
4.  I've already taken this problem to the local Apple store's "Genius Bar."  The "genius" was completely stumped, as were the rest of the store personnel.
I've spent about 8 hours online so far trying to find a solution to this problem without success.  All the online solutions assume that your actual music is either on your internal HDD or on an iPod.  The few that assume an external HDD don't address cross-OS migration.  None of the online solutions provide ALL of the elements that I need (Mac to PC conversion - not vice versa, latest iTunes software versions, external HDD music media location, and transfer of existing library database file information with no loss of data).
Intelligent suggestions appreciated.  Thanks anyway, but I can do without suggestions like "you should have stuck with all Mac / all PC," or "Dude - just copy the folder."  These are not effective solutions for this specific problem.  I own the hardware that I own; this IS a transfer that is doable.
I'm profoundly frustrated by what should be a simple job (yes, I know that the Mac & PC worlds aren't willing to play nicely, but I'm willing & able to apply "brute force and awkwardness" solutions if needed, including editing and modifying the xml programming.  Just for info, the Mac is running OS-X 10.6 Snow Leopard with iTunes 9.  The PC is running Windows XP with iTunes 9.
Thanks - Boomzilla

Steven Stone -- Fri, 10/23/2009 - 18:39

 One option for the art is to "embed " it in each music file. That's what I have to do so my Sonos and Squeezebox units will have art. I suspect that would also work for the PC iTunes, BUT it is a PITA because you must imbed each song or selection individually....
For a big music library imbedding will take years....not really but it might as well be years.

Steven Stone
Contributor to The Absolute Sound,, Vintage Guitar Magazine, and other fine publications

Boomzilla -- Fri, 10/23/2009 - 19:50

 Thanks Steven - You're right, individual embedding is not an option.  I've got close to 3/4 of a terrabyte of music.  I took the trouble to scan the CD covers and attach them to iTunes when I originally ripped the music, but I'm not about to go through that again.  The iTunes data MUST be recovered, and I'm confident that someone (either online or in the local Mac user group) can reveal the process.  Once I find out how, I'll post a step-by-step to this thread.

 A good sense of humor makes it ALL sound better!

imickey503 (not verified) -- Fri, 10/23/2009 - 20:06

I will download itunes 9 just to make sure that I can duplicate your issue. And this is a horible place to post a write up like that here.  Be sure to post it someplace else that really has a fan base and send it on a googable (Search engine identifiable blog.)
I will try mine out.  My library is from 2001,  And I will see what I come up with. 
BTW, I have long stopped using itunes.  To much work and itunes has a habit of screwing up your data.    It's become bloated.  I perfer the old itunes like 4.9 and the stuff before they added all the video stuff.
I wilget back to you when I can and If I ever remember to come here.  There is no way of getting an email to remind you of a post or anything liek that here.
Have a good one!
PS,  Be sure to back up that data, Otherwise, Your kids family and freinds will ruin your originals,  Power outages will corupt files, and next thing you know, You will start using the pirate bay to try to scrounge up all your old music  that you once had, 
That or spend about $25,000 to replace your music library. 
I hope you are using exact audio copy.   And nothing propriatery.     BTW,  Watch out for copy protected CD's    They are everywhere now and really are effecting sound quality. 

imickey503 (not verified) -- Fri, 10/23/2009 - 20:21

I know that in itunes 7 the big woop was that it would automaticly get all the album art for you if the files were actual music cd format. 
I know that windows trys to do the same thain g as well but it dowes not imbed it in the file. I know that it can,  but I do not think it does. 
If you have a FAST HDD that is not more then 50% full, Then it should only take  about overnight with a 500Gig library.  (Asuming you also have a lighting quick internet acsses as well) 
I also know that the best program to use for this was I belive the original music match jukebox (No longer made)  It kind of sucked as player, but was great in the fact that it could really make a mess of a library into a neat and wonderfull pakage. Weather they were music cds, or just files.  
Just about every other auto tagget that was open source really required you to spend hours and hours infron of a computer. IT WAS HELL!.  
I will tell you my soulution to the problem in a bit. 

imickey503 (not verified) -- Fri, 10/23/2009 - 19:51

Album art should be embedded by defalut by itunes on both platforms.   Something you can also do is share the libray over your subnet (your home network if both computers are at the same location)  and you should have all the information (Metadata) show up on the PC.
There are options in itunes that allow you to kjeep the MetaData in the MP3 files.   If the songs were purchased from iTunes, al the data will be there regaurdless of where the file is located at or what Operating system us playing the file.   Even other programs like Winamp and the better music media managers out there can play and decihper all the the Metadata (Song info, pictures, data)  that is in the id3-id4 tags (that is the metadata for the song files. 
Can I get your hardware setup please?   That would help a bit in deterimining what is best for you and your music.   Please back up your music data.  Be sure all the files are there with no errors. 
It Pro.

Boomzilla -- Sat, 10/24/2009 - 05:21

 THANKS to those of you who have replied.  To assist, the hardware list is below:
Source:  Seagate FreeAgent 1.5 TB external USB drive (This will remain in new configuration)
Mac:  MacBook Pro 17" unibody with OS-X 10.6 Snow Leopard (This will disappear in new configuration)
iTunes: 9 for Mac & PC (This is the constant in all configurations)
PC:  Eee Netbook running Windows XP (This will remain in new configuration)
Netgear Wireless N router (This will remain in new configuration)
Apple AirPort Express using the optical digital output (This will disappear in new configuration)
Yamaha RX-V2200 AV receiver (used as DAC & amplifier) (To be replaced in new configuration with a Benchmark DAC1 HDR dac/preamp and a McIntosh MC352 power amp)
Some of your replies bring up additional questions:  How does CD copy protection work and why does it mess up the sound of a ripped file?
None of my music is online purchased - all of it comes directly from my own CDs.  All is in AIFF (uncompressed) format.
Since I'm using my iPhone (running the free "Remote" application) as a controller, I must retain iTunes.
Thanks again for your help!   -   Boomzilla

 A good sense of humor makes it ALL sound better!

Andrew from Oz (not verified) -- Sat, 10/24/2009 - 06:20

 Hi there
Having just done this
I believe the following link may give u the answer to ur dilemma
PS follow every instruction to the letter!
Let me know

Boomzilla -- Sat, 10/24/2009 - 09:50

 Thanks, Andrew, but your link is for moving files from the internal HDD to an external and for moving the library information from one computer to a computer using an identical operating system.  These instructions would work if, for example, I were moving iTunes from one Mac to another Mac (or from one PC to another PC).  There are significant file structure differences, however, between the Mac and PC operating systems, and a simple file move won't work (trust me - I've tried).
I appreciate your effort. - Boomzilla

 A good sense of humor makes it ALL sound better!

Boomzilla -- Sat, 10/24/2009 - 13:38

 Here's the most successful try I've had so far:

Copy the entire iTunes folder from  Macintosh HD - Users - the file of your user name (looks like the house icon) - Music - iTunes) to the external HDD
Fire up the PC & download/install iTunes, but do not start the program
On the PC, go to My Computer -  Local Disc (C:) - Program Files - iTunes and drag the entire iTunes folder to the Recycle Bin (you may have to go to the processes and manually exit iTuneshelper.exe before Windows will let you delete the directory)
Open your external HDD from Windows Explorer and move (or copy) the iTunes folder from there to the Program Files directory on the C: drive.
Reboot the *&%^)(*^% PC again
Start iTunes on the PC
After initialization, iTunes will have lost about half of your cover art and lots of your music.  Unfortunately, this may be the best that the PC with the Windoze version of iTunes can do.

 A good sense of humor makes it ALL sound better!

Boomzilla -- Sun, 10/25/2009 - 11:02

 OK - I have a working setup, but not the way I desired.  When I try to export a digital music stream via the ethernet port of the Netbook, the music continuously skips.  When I ask the computer to play via internal sound circuits, it works fine.  I'm wondering if the CPU on the Netbook is insufficiently fast to stream music?  Since I don't yet have my USB DAC, I have no way to test whether the Netbook will stream smoothly via USB.  Does anyone have experience with a similar setup?

 A good sense of humor makes it ALL sound better!

NAS Guy (not verified) -- Sun, 10/25/2009 - 13:02

Have you thought about getting an external media server to stream the music like HP MediaSmart Server or one of the Buffalo Network Attached Storage Devices? It would centralize the music and stream it to multiple devices. Additionally it would serve as a back-up as well.

Boomzilla -- Sun, 10/25/2009 - 13:49

 I looked at media servers, but then I'd need an external stereo preamp as well.  It seemed more cost-efficient to get the Benchmark DAC1 HDR which has a USB-DAC, a preamplifier, and balanced outputs for my power amp all in one (small) box.  Boomzilla-

 A good sense of humor makes it ALL sound better!

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