Since ditching my cable TV subscription a couple of years ago the Apple TV and the iTunes ecosystem have been one of my primary sources of entertainment. However, in order for an Apple TV play the media locally stored in an iTunes library, it’s necessary to have a iTunes running on a Mac on the same local network and sharing that content via Home Sharing. In this day and age, it seems like an outdated system. (Perhaps Apple will consider addressing this when they next revamp the Apple TV.)
To accomplish this I keep an 2009 Mac mini running in my home, with its primary function to act as an iTunes server. Because the SSD hard drive on that machine is fairly small, I choose to keep my iTunes library on a Drobo 5N, which introduces a few additional complications to this system but overall seems to work well.
A couple of months ago I started having problems with the meta data of my content not properly appearing on my Apple TVs. I have gone to great lengths to make sure that all my media has proper meta data and album artwork using iFlicks, but no matter what I tried, the Apple TV would only sporadically display appropriate album artwork. I chalked this up to “general iTunes weirdness” and moved on.
Then last week things got worse. Apple TV would churn for minutes at a time when navigating between menus in my media library and it would take several minutes for a TV show or movie to start playing. Eventually it would, but the process was painful. I also noticed that iTunes on the Mac mini was becoming non-responsive for long periods of time and taking up more CPU cycles than normal. Something was not right.
The solution I found that eventually solved all my problems was rebuilding my iTunes Library. From Apple:
The iTunes Library files store information about your iTunes library, such as what songs are available for iTunes to use, but they do not store your actual song files. The two iTunes Library files are:
- iTunes Library (“iTunes Library.itl” in Windows) is a database of the songs in your library and the playlists you’ve created. Some song-specific data is saved in this file. If you delete the file, iTunes creates a new, empty copy when you open the application, but any playlists, song ratings, comments, or other information you created will be lost. The iTunes Library file is only used by iTunes.
- iTunes Library.xml contains some (but not all) of the same information stored in the iTunes Library file. The purpose of the iTunes Library.xml file is to make your music and playlists available to other applications on your computer. If you delete the file, iTunes creates a new copy from the iTunes Library file.
Your iTunes Library file may become damaged and cause iTunes to become unresponsive. The “iTunes Library.xml” file may be used to re-create a new iTunes Library file.
Re-creating the iTunes Library file is a very specific troubleshooting step which you should only perform if you have been directed to do so by a specific troubleshooting article.
Apple's Knowledge Base Article outlines additional troubleshooting steps you can try before rebuilding the database, as well as the steps necessary to rebuild the database file.
Since rebuilding the iTunes library I’ve found it speedy and responsive and all of my meta data is now appearing properly. My suspicion is I’ve had problems brewing for months that finally came to a head. Of course you should always have a good backup of your data before you proceed. If you have a large library (either in size or number of items) the import can take a LONG time. (I actually let mine run overnight).
Hope this helps.