One iTunes Database, part 2

Saturday, December 9, 2006

Almost a month ago, I explained how to maintain one iTunes database for multiple XP users. “jeffjunk” wrote in to tell me this didn’t work for him. Well, turns out, it didn’t work for me, either.

The problem is in hardlinking the individual files. When you change something in iTunes — like adding music — it doesn’t modify the existing library files. It creates new files and deletes the old files. That kills the link the first time it updates the library. So, although I originally didn’t want to hardlink the entire directory, now I think it’s a grand idea.

As Daniel explains, hardlinking directories is not built into XP, but it is available via the Windows 2003 Resource Kit. He mentions other options, but this was something I had planned to install anyway. Install the software, then log out and log back in so the new functions are in your command line path.

As before, backup your iTunes data before you start. One thing I should mention is that this requires NTFS formatted drives. This was true with my previous instructions as well, I just forgot to mention it. That is the default for Windows XP, so if you don’t know what it is, you’re probably fine.

Now, copy the iTunes directory (most likely found in C:\Documents and Settings\<ACCOUNT NAME>\My Documents\My Music\) from the account that has your main library to someplace where all accounts can access it. I used the “Shared Music Folder,” which can be found at C:\Documents and Settings\All Users\Documents\My Music.

Next, remove the iTunes directory from each account. It should be found in C:\Documents and Settings\<ACCOUNT NAME>\My Documents\My Music\. Open a command prompt, navigate to the directory where you just removed the iTunes folder, and issue this command:

linkd iTunes "C:\Documents and Settings\All Users\Documents\My Music\iTunes"

You should get a “Link created at: iTunes” message. And that’s it! Thanks again to Jeff for catching my mistake.