Last night at 2AM, I finished a month-long project I’ve been working on late nights and on weekends: consolidating, normalizing and archiving my master music library to a backup disc so that I can swap drives around. To make a long story short, the drive in my iMac music server went bad enough that I can’t use it as a boot disc anymore, so I had to compare the music on two separate drives (the working iTunes library and the backup I made a few months ago), make sure the backup was updated, and then get the bad drive ready for its new job. I tried using a couple of utilities for this task, SuperSync and syncOtunes, and found them lacking in many different respects. SyperSync does a pretty fair job of working through two iTunes libraries to find duplicates and differences, but its UI is a nightmare of little icons, buttons, and lists, and the ‘filtering’ features are arcane and nonintuitive. I found myself spending more time reading the manual repeatedly to make sure I didn’t erase anything than I did syncing files, so I gave up on it. syncOtunes semed to work, but my experience was that it didn’t find all the duplicates or missing files. Instead, I resorted to looking through side-by-side folder directories and comparing file sizes to see where I had differences from one side to the other. This was time-consuming and tedious, but it satisfied the anal-retentive part of my brain and helped me prune the duplicates and bad files from the library.
My plan is to build a Smart Folder for the iTunes server, which will import any music file I add into iTunes and then write out a logfile of the additions so that I can keep track of the changes. I had a basic version of this on the old music server I ran at work, but I found it would get backed up as iTunes added the files and cancel itself out, which was unreliable and annoying. I’d also like to make a script that will create a record of which files get metadata additions or changes so that I can update the backup drive, but that’s a little more involved.