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Using FireWire to help speed up the iTunes Home Sharing process

One of the new features of iTunes 9 is Home Sharing. The feature allows you to manually browse, import, and automatically add iTunes content from up to five authorized computers in your house. While Home Sharing is certainly a welcome feature, it's so slow that you may not live long enough to see all of your content transferred.

Okay, maybe that's a bit of an exaggeration.

Given the trend toward larger file sizes of digital media -- higher bit rate music and videos, in particular -- iTunes Home Sharing may take quite a bit of time for some. However, some FireWire shenanigans should shorten this time significantly.

One of the neat features of FireWire is its networking capabilities. Similar to how you can connect crossover Ethernet cables to directly connect two computers, you can use FireWire to directly network (or daisy chain, if you have more than two) your computers. Doing this with iTunes Home Sharing, however, requires a bit of trickery, and here are the steps, assuming that your network config is set to Automatic:

  1. Turn on iTunes Home Sharing on two computers. Let's call them Computer 1 (which we'll call the target) and Computer 2 (which we'll call the host).
  2. Connect the two computers via FireWire.
  3. As you'll need an Internet connection to authorize your iTunes account on both computers, leave your Internet connection on for both computers.
  4. After authorizing, turn off the Internet connection (whether it's via AirPort or Ethernet) of the target computer (Computer 1). However, the Internet connection of Computer 2 should remain on. I've found that leaving on an Internet Connection on Computer 1 will result in Home Sharing using its Internet connection (either AirPort or Ethernet) to transfer the file within your LAN.

Now, Computer 2 should be able to import the files from Computer 1 via iTunes Home Sharing using a FireWire transfer, which will likely save you a lot of time.

Note: Using FireWire for iTunes Home Sharing is not bi-directional, so you'll need to repeat these steps if you want Computer 1 to import content from Computer 2.

Although these steps are a bit of a hassle, you'll likely only need to do them once, as subsequent uses of Home Sharing will more likely be incremental in nature, for which AirPort or Ethernet should be adequate.

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