A massive iTunes library is great for pumpin' up the jams at home, but what if you want to take those tunes out on the road with you? If you've got two main Macs, but only your desktop is loaded with all those awesome b-sides, maybe it's time to consider setting up a NAS to get your iTunes library synced across all your systems. While Apple does include a Home Sharing feature, it doesn't work when you're far away from your headquarters.
And that’s where MediaRover comes in: this little piece of software enables you to have your iTunes library sync across your entire home network. So, when you bring your MacBook home, MediaRover will automatically sync with any NAS device on your network.
Read along to learn how to set up MediaRover on multiple Macs, configure a NAS device using an AirPort router, and then sync and manage your libraries.
>> Free MediaRover account (http://mediarover.com)
>> NAS-compatible router (or another NAS device)
>> USB external hard drive large enough to hold iTunes library
>> Multiple Macs and/or PCs (with iTunes)
Before we can get started setting up MediaRover on your Macs, you will need to visit the MediaRover website and sign up for a free account, which will allow you to sync with as many as eight different Macs and PCs. This account will also let you manage your different computers.
Log in to MediaRover and select the Download link near the top of the account page. From here, you’ll be able to select either the Mac or Windows version of the application. At the bottom, you’ll have your account information, including email address and account access code. You should note both of these as you will need to provide them during the MediaRover Setup.
Before we can begin the MediaRover setup, we need to first configure our NAS (Network Attached Storage) on the network. A NAS works just like an external hard drive, except that it's connected to the network and accessible to all computers.
We’re going to use the USB NAS feature on the AirPort Extreme to accomplish this, but you could use any USB-compatible router or NAS drive.
Locate the USB port on the back of the device, then plug in an external drive. If another device is already occupying the USB port, you can then use a USB hub to connect multiple devices to your AirPort Extreme, though may have to opt for a powered USB hub.
Next, launch AirPort Utility on your Mac, located in Applications > Utilities. Dismiss the setup wizard that appears by clicking the Manual Setup button in the bottom-left corner; or Select Base Station > Manual Setup from the menu bar. Enter your base station password if prompted. Then, once you’re in, select Disks from the toolbar up top, which will display a listing of all the connected hard drives.
Click on the File Sharing tab in the Disks section of AirPort Utility. Most of the options here callibrate automatically when you plug in a hard drive, but you still need to change a few items.
Check the box labeled Enable File Sharing, then select With Accounts under the Secure Shared Disks drop-down box. Next, ensure that AirPort Disks Guest Access is not allowed.
Next, click the “Configure Accounts...” button that appears under the Secure Shared Disks section. This will take you to a tab where you can configure different user accounts for hard drive access. Click the plus button (+) to add an account.
In the resulting drop-down panel, type in a username, password, then verify the password by typing it again. Under Sharing Access, select Read and Write to give both read and write permissions to this account. When you are finished, select the Done button.
When you're finished adding all the accounts you need, select the Update button in the lower right-hand corner of the window to save the settings and reboot the AirPort router.
...Pat yourself on the back, because we're half way done!
>> Next: Setting up the MediaRover
Once you've installed MediaRover, launch it from the Applications folder.
On this initial screen, you will be prompted for the account email address and access code that was displayed on the MediaRover download page. If you don't remember this information, you can return to the MediaRover download page in your account to retrieve it. Enter in your information, then click the Next button.
On the next screen, you’ll be prompted for your first name or initials. This will get automatically added in brackets to the end of a synced shared playlist to distinguish who the playlist belongs to--for example, "Workout [Dad]". Furthermore, you can also specify a computer name and view its MAC address.
Click next when you're done.
The next screen lets you choose between two syncing options: Default Sync and Manually Configure.
We suggest going with the Default options, but if you like tinkering around, choose the manual configuration option.
If you choose to manually configure MediaRover, you can select which syncing options you want to keep. When you're finished, click finish.
Next, you will be presented with a screen that lets you select where on your network the MediaRover files will be stored. It will automatically try to detect the NAS, but it won’t find the one connected to AirPort, so select Manual Configuration to manually setup the disk.
In the resulting window, you’ll want to specify the path to the NAS on your network. This is composed of your router’s IP Address, followed by a forward slash, then the name of the hard drive you have connected. AirPort routers will most commonly have three IP addresses: 10.0.1.1, 192.168.1.1, or 172.16.1.1. In our case, the IP address was 192.168.1.1, so we typed in to the path field the following:
In our case, “SCRATCH” was the name of the drive we had connected to the AirPort Extreme. If that IP address did not work for you, try the other two.
In the username field, type in the name of the user you created in the AirPort Utility, and then type in the password for that account. When you're finished filling in the path and account information, select the Next button to have MediaRover verify the NAS.
After a few seconds, MediaRover will find and test the disk for use. When the test passes, you’ll get a confirmation. Click Next.
That’s it. You have successfully set up MediaRover. Now on to syncing your library.
After completing the MediaRover Setup Wizard, MediaRover will pop up on the screen. The application automatically connects to the NAS drive on your network and will sync your iTunes library over to it. When it's done, each song will have a nifty little icon next to it: a green slanted arrow means that the song will automatically sync and there is a copy on both your local iTunes library and on the NAS drive; a red “X” means that either the file is a movie and cannot be copied, or it's protected by DRM; and a small spinning wheel next to an item means that it is currently being copied to or from the NAS drive.
You can see the current syncing status at the top of the MediaRover window. Each song will take a few minutes to copy to or from the NAS drive, so be patient as this process is completed.
By clicking on MediaRover > Preferences, you will be able to tweak different settings that you may have forgotten to check in the setup wizard, including the various sync settings. You are also able to test the network and speed using the button in the Storage tab of the preferences.
You can set up to eight computers to sync with one MediaRover account and NAS drive on your network. To do this, simply follow steps 2, 5, and 6 again on the other computers. You will be able to specify a new person name and machine name when running the setup on each machine, and you can use this naming convention to remember which computers the music was synced from.
Just remember that when you want to sync your iTunes library with the one stored on the NAS drive, you will have to launch MediaRover manually.
Although MediaRover allows you to keep all of your iTunes libraries in sync, there are a few caveats that you should know about. For starters, you will only be able to sync DRM-free music. If you still have iTunes-purchased songs with FairPlay DRM, you’re not going to be able to sync them, or your videos. However, you can sync podcasts by going to MediaRover > Preferences > Advanced and checking the box labeled Include Podcasts when syncing new music.
Despite some shortcomings, MediaRover is still a great tool for getting music to and from your various computers; our only wish is that MediaRover would start up as a menu bar application instead of taking up space in the Dock. There's still room for improvement, but given the fact that MediaRover is completely free, we are willing to live with its few shortcomings.
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