iTunes Server Media Locations

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iTunes Server Media Locations

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I didn't see a section about the iTunes Server app so I figured that I would post my question here. If I should ask this elsewhere then please let me know.

I just got my DS920+ and I'm starting to get it all configured. I downloaded iTunes Server and it automatically installed a Music folder and a Movies folder at the top level of the NAS. My Mac mini has an "iTunes Media" folder that contains all my music, movies, TV shows, podcasts and audio books. This is where where iTunes saves everything and my AppleTV plays everything from it. Do I copy my iTunes Media folder to either the Music or Video folder on the NAS or do I need to split my files between them? Do I need a different app?

Everything seemed simpler when I had a RAID on my Mac mini and it was seen as just as external shared drive. When the RAID died (luckily it was backed up every night) I decided to go with a NAS so I wouldn't need to keep a computer powered up 24/7 to act as a media and file server. The NAS has upped the complexity since it is its own "device" and I'm not sure how everything should be setup so it works just as before for the other people in the house. That means being able to use AppleTV and all of our iOS mobile devices without jumping through hoops just to watch a movie or TV show or listen to music. The wife and the kids won't go for that. I'm hoping I didn't make an expensive mistake.

Thanks in advance for your help. I also need to sync 2 Dropbox accounts and 2 OneDrive accounts to the NAS but I should probably ask about that in a different post.
 
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The most straightforward approach is to copy your media folders to the NAS and share from there.

While there are techniques for having iTunes use a NAS mounted folder for its library, there are complications that make it messy. Presuming that you have the space, run a periodic sync to keep the NAS folder current. Chronosync and Carbon Copy Cloner are both excellent and both have trial versions so you can choose which one you prefer before buying.
 
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I never managed to get the built in server to work. I ended up going down the docker route and using linuxserver/daapd
That said I was trying to set it up so my any device on the network had access to our iTunes library.
 
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fredbert

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When Apple split up Mac's iTunes to Music, TV, Podcasts, and Books that was when Synology's iTunes Server had problems being picked up by these new apps. I'm not sure when it was fixed as I rarely use it but it definitely works again in DSM 7's iTunes Server. There was a reasonably long/old thread at The Other Place about the underlying package being out of date, and hack to fix it (IIRC).

Like other Synology media packages, iTunes Server picks up media folders that have been added to Control Panel's Indexing Service. The /music and /video shared folders are created as convenient places to keep these types of media files but you can add your own, provided you don't use your personal /home folder (shared media cannot be accessed from here). The best approach, I find, is to keep separate folder trees for music, films, and tv shows because life is a lot easier for tagging, esp. in Video Station and Plex. Other than that I created a single /multimedia shared folder with folders here for the different media types.

As for iTunes Server: this only works to present a library to Mac/PC iTunes and Mac Music/TV. It doesn't work with iOS/padOS/tvOS devices.


I've mostly moved to using Plex as I have apps on all my Apple devices. The only thing is any Apple DRM content will not play, but I don't have much of that. To address this I stopped using the 'organise iTunes media' option and keep separate sub-folders for 'movies (drm)' and 'movies', etc. And I've got the family to move to Plex apps.
 
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I never bothered with the iTunes server, I just copied the iTunes folder from my mac to the NAS pointed iTunes to that folder and everything was simple and works flawlessly.
After I made sure it was working I deleted everything from the iTunes folder on the mac, but I am only using iTunes on one computer and not sharing the library to other machines/people
 
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The best approach, I find, is to keep separate folder trees for music, films, and tv shows because life is a lot easier for tagging, esp. in Video Station and Plex. Other than that I created a single /multimedia shared folder with folders here for the different media types.
I was thinking of going down that road but then I wondered what would happen when I purchase a movie, TV show or music with iTunes. Since iTunes looks to put downloaded media in a specific folder do you end up copying the files out of that folder into the other ones you setup? I'd assume that would break the iTunes links for playing the media which I guess is why you moved to Plex on all your devices. I was hoping to avoid using 3rd party apps on AppleTV and iOS devices so that it would stay as simple as it was when I used a RAID on the Mac mini as a server. Looks like I may not have a choice.
 
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fredbert

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Well I’m still mid-migration from iTunes, over 3 years so far. I have a 6TB USB drive on the Mac Mini that holds my organised media files for use with Apple’s apps. This is then fully backed up to the NAS which is also nicely organised for Plex, and Synology’s packages to use read-only.
 
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Well I’m still mid-migration from iTunes, over 3 years so far. I have a 6TB USB drive on the Mac Mini that holds my organised media files for use with Apple’s apps. This is then fully backed up to the NAS which is also nicely organised for Plex, and Synology’s packages to use read-only.
3 YEAR MIGRATION?!?!? OUCH! I see now that you're doing the normal iTunes stuff with a drive mounted on the Mac and using the NAS for backup of the iTunes media and manually reorganizing it for use with Plex. I'm trying to use the NAS for everything so that it holds the iTunes Library, media downloads to straight to it, and all my Apple devices can access it for playback of all media types. Sounds like I'm asking for the impossible and I should have just replaced the RAID that died with a new RAID. :cry:
 
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fredbert

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Actually now I’m mostly managing the media folders on Mac and syncing to the NAS.

It’s incredibly rare that I use iTunes or home sharing to the Apple TV. It’s now mostly Plex. The only time I may use Apple apps is to play downloaded music on the iPhone, which I manage manually with iMazing.

The best thing about not using iTunes/TV for video is that other things are much easier for tagging.
 
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fredbert

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It's in Package Center and looks like this...
1634889621459.png
 
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The best thing about itunes server - when you set it up right, everything is centralized on the NAS and multiple clients can all access it without having to update or sync anything locally on the clients. Here's a good link:

 
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fredbert

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That link is for just moving iTunes Media (as was) from the Mac/PC to NAS, then having iTunes or successor app running on Mac/PC with the NAS shared folder mounted. It's not really any different to moving iTunes Media to a USB drive.

The DSM iTunes Server package is a self-contained library server that presents the NAS's indexed media files to Mac/PC iTunes and successor apps. They appear similar to other Macs/PCs running iTunes with sharing enabled. The downside is that mobile devices do not see the DSM iTunes Server, so unless you have only desktop/laptop devices this has limited use.

A year later that your link and someone on the Apple forum has the same problem to understand DSM's iTunes Server.

The advice is to move the iTunes Media folder to the NAS and keep using iTunes, and forget DSM iTunes Server.

Going to the end of that Apple thread someone suggested a Windows VM and iTunes in that as an always-on service on NAS.
 
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That link is for just moving iTunes Media (as was) from the Mac/PC to NAS, then having iTunes or successor app running on Mac/PC with the NAS shared folder mounted. It's not really any different to moving iTunes Media to a USB drive.

The DSM iTunes Server package is a self-contained library server that presents the NAS's indexed media files to Mac/PC iTunes and successor apps. They appear similar to other Macs/PCs running iTunes with sharing enabled. The downside is that mobile devices do not see the DSM iTunes Server, so unless you have only desktop/laptop devices this has limited use.

A year later that your link and someone on the Apple forum has the same problem to understand DSM's iTunes Server.

The advice is to move the iTunes Media folder to the NAS and keep using iTunes, and forget DSM iTunes Server.

Going to the end of that Apple thread someone suggested a Windows VM and iTunes in that as an always-on service on NAS.

Thank you Fred for your insights and the discussion thread you mentioned above. That is an interesting thread. Since Apple has abandoned iTunes in favor of separate Music and TV apps in the Apple environment I wonder how long iTunes has left in the Windows environment. Also since I'm all Apple at home, how would I add music and movies to the iTunes library on the NAS – especially stuff I purchase from the iTunes Store using my Mac or iPad? Log in to the Windows VM on the NAS and only purchase media using iTunes there? That's not going to fly with the rest of the family.

I think I made a huge and expensive mistake with the purchase of the 920+. It sounds like I should have just replaced the dead RAID with a new RAID and resigned myself to needing to keep a Mac mini powered up 24/7 like I was doing before. Of course since I've been trying to figure out this mess for a month now, I'm sure it's too late to return the NAS and get my money back. :-(

So since I'm likely "stuck" with the 920+ what is my best option for listening to and viewing all my media on all my Apple devices (Macs, iPhones, iPads)? Run Plex on everything and abandon the Apple-native apps? Run Emby on everything and abandon the Apple-native apps? Purchase Windows and some VM software to install on the NAS and run the Apple-native apps? I had such high hopes for a simple NAS solution but those hopes seem to have faded away. Very disappointed.
 
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We've been an Apple house since mid-90s with PCs only coming from work or more recently schools. So I've used iTunes since the start. Once we had more than one shared Mac (and user account) it was clear that iTunes isn't that great to manage multiple users. Then there was the extreme options with iPod/iPhone music managed: easy... updated based on smart playlist but tied to one Mac; harder... by manually adding/removing but not tied to one Mac.

What really tipped me from iTunes-centric was having to manually tag every video. I found it so much easier to, initially, use Video Station and then Plex was even better. The thing with Plex is that I don't have to know what I want from iTunes/Music/TV and load onto mobile devices before travelling, or select lower-bit rate versions. On Apple TV, Plex is a top-level app unlike 'Computers' which I then have to dig into to find I left the MBA running so I now first select the Mac Mini before accessing medie.

And... I found that using iTunes Library home sharing from my iPhones (over years) to the Mac just wasn't reliable and I couldn't guarantee that it would finish loading.

As for Audio Station, there is the mobile app but not one for Apple TV. I do use it sometimes to select and direct music streams to my HEOS setup, but mostly I use the iOS HEOS app and DSM's Media Server. This headless way to access my music at home, without streaming through the phone first, has been great.

How you view your purchase of the NAS should also depend on how you play music (and video). I never bought into the Apple pod speakers thing (nor the old iPod HiFi), having always had some form of separates HiFi kit, and didn't want to have my music tied to just that ecosystem.

I don't use Apple Music sub., never user iTunes Music Match, nor any of the other things they setup that looked like it would mess up my personal music files.

In the end you can load the media files onto the NAS and use them, at the same time, with SMB file sharing to an iTunes/Music Mac/PC, Audio Station, Media Server, Video Station, Plex, etc. I would check out if you find the new options you have are better/liveable-with than using just the Apple native apps.
 
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That link is for just moving iTunes Media (as was) from the Mac/PC to NAS, then having iTunes or successor app running on Mac/PC with the NAS shared folder mounted. It's not really any different to moving iTunes Media to a USB drive.

The DSM iTunes Server package is a self-contained library server that presents the NAS's indexed media files to Mac/PC iTunes and successor apps. They appear similar to other Macs/PCs running iTunes with sharing enabled. The downside is that mobile devices do not see the DSM iTunes Server, so unless you have only desktop/laptop devices this has limited use.

A year later that your link and someone on the Apple forum has the same problem to understand DSM's iTunes Server.

The advice is to move the iTunes Media folder to the NAS and keep using iTunes, and forget DSM iTunes Server.

Going to the end of that Apple thread someone suggested a Windows VM and iTunes in that as an always-on service on NAS.
well, I can tell you I implemented this in 2015 and it just works, with Apple music now in addition to the legacy Itunes windows application.
 
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Sounds like we have similar histories with Apple. I started with an Apple IIe and used a Lisa where I worked so naturally bought a Mac Plus back in the day. Currently have a newer Intel Mac mini and an old one that I will probably replace next year with the larger iMac when they introduce it. Of course the family has Apple mobile devices and 2 AppleTVs. I have never subscribed to Apple Music or Music Match either for the same reason as you. The only Windows PC is a laptop from the company I work for.

The Apple media apps have served us well over the years mainly because when music or movies are downloaded from the iTunes Store they're instantly available on all of our devices. Nice and easy with no need to move items between folders or apps. That's why all this stuff about 3rd party apps and moving media files around has me spooked since I've seen stuff like this go horribly wrong with other people. I guess that I'm not as adventurous as I used to be in my younger days. :)

I'll give the DS apps a go and hopefully I'll be pleasantly surprised. You mentioned Plex and I've heard about Emby. I assume these apps would be used in place of Video Station and not in addition to. Do you just have a movie folder and a music folder for Plex or do you have separate folders for genres? I haven't done any tagging so I'm not sure how that would work with the apps. I also wonder how purchasing media through the iTunes Store would work. I assume that the Music apple and the TV app would download the music/movies/TV shows into an iTunes Media folder and I would need to move the files from there to their associated folders on the NAS?

So many things to try and so much that can go wrong (and right).
 
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Oldest Mac I used in anger was a SE FDHD 4/40.

Having used iTunes/Music/TV for a long time you'll know that some purchased media are DRM-locked. Unless you have some older purchased music then Apple removed DRM from music when they stopped selling 128kbps files, and I think music videos aren't DRM-locked either. We have some of these and I can play them in non-Apple apps. However, films and TV episodes are protected with DRM and you can only play these with Apple's apps (when they are logged in). I have very few films and TV episodes from Apple, purely because of the DRM lock-in: most came as digital versions with DVDs.

How you can proceed will be dictated by how much Apple DRM media you own. If it's a lot then you're better staying with Apple's apps, at least for that media type.

When I started the move I copied across my iTunes Media folder to the NAS: using CCC I made a filter so that known-DRM content was excluded. I then added these media folders to Control Panel / Indexing Server's indexed folders. Now the media will be available in Audio Station, Video Station, and Media Server (I have a Denon HEOS system that can stream music from DLNA/UPnP servers). The way that iTunes organised media into folders (e.g. music in Artist / Album, and TV in show / season) and renamed files is pretty good and seems works pretty well with automated tagging for display.

Later on I installed Plex Media Server and it uses the same media folders for its libraries. All that was needed was to give it permission to access the shared folders (read-only is enough) and then create libraries and select the media folders. I've not used Emby but others here use it.

The new Apple Music and TV applications still allow their 'Media folder to be placed where you want it. The defaults are the user's Music/Music/Music Media and Movies/TV/TV Media but they can be replaced to the NAS, or USB drive, etc.

Another reason for moving to Plex was so I could have additional audio track support in movies / concerts. Using Plex on an Apple TV (HD and 4K) I can play out the Multi-Channel to the Denon AVR for formats like DTS-HA MA, TrueHD, etc etc.


But I'm still interested to know how @Coop777 got iTunes Server to work, especially with iPhones.
 
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Last edited:
Emby is similar in setup to Plex (as is Jellyfin) and there are a good collection of people here who can help with setting them up.
However I'd recommend going to Jellyfin instead as it includes many of the paid Emby features for free.
All 3 have apps for Android and iOS, as well as web based for desktops.

I've got all my films, series, photos, music and music videos all in 1 location I can access from anywhere in the world (that took a little more work). All 3 options are able to do this and I can't recommend enough that you test all 3 and see which one works best for you. Just remember to only give them read access to the folders as then they can't make any unnecessary changes to your files.

Personally I use other media media management software (Tiny Media Manager being an example which will then download covers etc for both Films and Series so everything looks really slick). As an example Series/Film titles come up in the correct fonts etc.

From my testing I could never get the Synology iTunes server to work so I used a daapd container to share all my media for iTunes users(Just firing up an old iPad 2 to see if it can see the server, nope, refused to see it, then again that could be due to it being an iPad 2). I use airsonic for everyone else.

The routes I've gone down require a bit of learning, but there are lots of people here who can help if you choose to go down the same route.
 
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Oldest Mac I used in anger was a SE FDHD 4/40.

Having used iTunes/Music/TV for a long time you'll know that some purchased media are DRM-locked. Unless you have some older purchased music then Apple removed DRM from music when they stopped selling 128kbps files, and I think music videos aren't DRM-locked either. We have some of these and I can play them in non-Apple apps. However, films and TV episodes are protected with DRM and you can only play these with Apple's apps (when they are logged in). I have very few films and TV episodes from Apple, purely because of the DRM lock-in: most came as digital versions with DVDs.

How you can proceed will be dictated by how much Apple DRM media you own. If it's a lot then you're better staying with Apple's apps, at least for that media type.

When I started the move I copied across my iTunes Media folder to the NAS: using CCC I made a filter so that known-DRM content was excluded. I then added these media folders to Control Panel / Indexing Server's indexed folders. Now the media will be available in Audio Station, Video Station, and Media Server (I have a Denon HEOS system that can stream music from DLNA/UPnP servers). The way that iTunes organised media into folders (e.g. music in Artist / Album, and TV in show / season) and renamed files is pretty good and seems works pretty well with automated tagging for display.

Later on I installed Plex Media Server and it uses the same media folders for its libraries. All that was needed was to give it permission to access the shared folders (read-only is enough) and then create libraries and select the media folders. I've not used Emby but others here use it.

The new Apple Music and TV applications still allow their 'Media folder to be placed where you want it. The defaults are the user's Music/Music/Music Media and Movies/TV/TV Media but they can be replaced to the NAS, or USB drive, etc.

Another reason for moving to Plex was so I could have additional audio track support in movies / concerts. Using Plex on an Apple TV (HD and 4K) I can play out the Multi-Channel to the Denon AVR for formats like DTS-HA MA, TrueHD, etc etc.


But I'm still interested to know how @Coop777 got iTunes Server to work, especially with iPhones.
It does not work with the IOS music app, I use DS Audio for mobile devices. Works exactly the same, with the ability to download music to the IOS device for offline playback.
 
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