I think you have asked this question before. Have you tried SilverKeeper from LaCie? It is free and simple. Don't use Time Machine to backup iTunes tracks.
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I'm not sure if it'll work, but within iTunes there is a "back up to disk" command - not sure it will work to an external disk though - worth a try as you'd likely be backing up all the data since iTunes is doing the backing up. I know it works to burn a set of DVD backups. Have you considered a RAID? If not, here's a relatively economical solution, but it would make the drives you've already purchased, well, er, redundant (sorry). It uses internal drives - you'd have to pull them out of the housings, which I'd guess you probably don't want to do. I don't know that I'd be comfortable with TimeMachine's reliability at this point. Early on there were lots of reports in the Apple forums about folks losing data via TimeMachine. Mac's already come out with at least one update for 10.5 already. I don't know if that addressed any of the problems folks were having. Anyway, I'd wait to make sure they sort out all the kinks there. You may want to check out this thread though the poster's problems have more to do with WAV files, and sounds like you are using AppleLossless, which don't have the same properties (metadata can go with the AL files AFAIK). Not sure why your backup is going slowly though...you should be able to drag and drop one hard drive onto a second and, via a fast interface like Firewire or USB 2.0 it should go relatively quickly. USB 1.0 might take a while. I copied a 300gig drive via USB 1 and it took several hours. Copy the drive and disconnect the original drive and make sure the music and metadata all shows up in iTunes. It's a good idea to copy your itunes folder as well as it has all data that is the structure of your library. That file is much smaller than your actual music files. Back it up whenever you add music to your library (as well as the actual music). Some folks store their music natively, within the overall iTunes folder in the subfolder "itunes music". If you store on external drives your actual music is on the external drive, and the stuff that holds it all together is in that iTunes folder. You can rebuild the library if you loose the iTunes foler, but it's bit of a PITA and takes a bit of time. Per the thread I refered to above; I know enough about this stuff to be dangerous. Regardless, hope that helps.
PS TimeMachine technically is acting to some degree, just like a RAID.
What's wrong with Time Machine?
Just check out a few of the discussions here. Nothing is "wrong" with TimeMachine as a concept. But if you go to the Apple discussion forums you will come across a whole lot of reports from early on where folks had lost data from relying on it. There has also been problems with Disk Utility formating FAT32 drives at that time. Again, Mac has come up with an update since then, so it may all be sorted out at this point. If TimeMachine is working, that's fine. I don't know if it can be set to back up an external (non-boot) drive with your music files on it. Certainly if you've put them on your boot drive it will back them up, but I don't do that. As I understand it, it backs up your boot (startup) drive that has Leopard on it. I've been using it successfully thus far on my g5 tower, but I've yet to have to rely upon the backup. My suggestion was to give it time to prove itself out. It's a great feature, don't get me wrong.
I see. To date, I haven't had any problem with it - knock on wood - although I thought my HD was going to burn up during the initial backup (about 500GB of data). It [i]will[/i] back up anything you ask it to. I have two internals and one external which all back up to a separate 1TB external.
I'll admit that I do have a separate backup just in case, though I haven't updated it since upgrading to leopard.
If you haven't upgraded to Leopard there's a great $28 application called SuperDuper that makes backups simple and painless. It has a very intuitive interface and will do anything from incremental backups of a single folder to creating a bootable mirror image of your system drive. There's a free trial version available. I've been using it to back up to a pair of external drives and am very impressed with the ease of use and functionality.
As changes are made to a file, Time Machine wants to keep multiple versions of the file so that you can go back in time to retrieve the old version. As you reorganize tracks in iTunes, iTunes will rename tracks and move tracks from folder to folder causing multiple copies of the same track being backed up by Time Machine. Also, any changes made to embedded meta data (artist, genre, track number, etc...) will cause multiple copies being backup as well. Obviously, this is not a very efficient way of using disk space.
What you really want is a program that will keep your primary iTunes library and the backup library completely in sync. If a file is deleted from primary, it should be deleted from backup. If a file is added to primary, it should be added to backup as well. In other words, you want the backup to be identical to the primary.
In the case the primary crashes, you want to be able to simply replace the primary with the backup (maybe with minor configuration change due to different volume names), restart iTunes and get back to business. You can't do that with Time Machine. With Time Machine, you must get a new drive and restore all your music files from the backup. It may take a whole day if you have 500G of music.
Well, personally I'm not concerned about how the program uses the disk space. What I mean is that I'd use a dedicated disk regardless, and I'd keep it filled with as many incremental backups as I could. So why not let TM do it for me? In fact, it's much more efficient than if I did it manually, since I would back up entire folders or drives as opposed to the individual files that have changed. So I essentially end up with more backups in a given volume. Plus, after 48 hours it converts the older hourly backups to single daily ones, then after 30 days, the dailies to monthlies.
Your other points I confess I don't really understand. The whole point of TM's journalling is that it is always in sync, and that you can easily restore a single file very quickly to any specific point in time. If I accidently delete all my playlists, for example, I just go to the iTunes folder, click TM, pick the point in time I want to go back to, highlight the file and click restore. The advantage, apart from ease, is that I can choose a backup from less than an hour ago rather than last night (or three weeks ago if I'm doing it manually). Of course, you can also do a complete restore from scratch if you need.
I can see someone being wary of using TM because its new; but as for how it works, I can't imagine a better solution.
Everyone, thanks for your input.
Sidssp, I last tried Silverkeeper about 2 years ago when I was back on 10.2.8 OS X. It didn't work so well. I'll have a look again.
Given that'll be somewhat a manual process, I know where my music files are kept -- on my external 500 GB drive.
But what about my user account files? Shall I just include the entire username directory in my backup? And that will preserve any metadata -- ratings info, lyrics, etc., in addition to album art?
Or should i just copy the Library directory w/in the user account area?
I use a software from Prosoft called Databackup.
I program the Mac to wake up in the wee hours of the morning once a week and then schedule the backup just five minutes afterwards.
It works fine and has saved me from a drive failure a couple of times already.
Personally I don't like the way time machine spins up my hard drive all the time. I have had the same frustration with spotlight. I don't like spotlight....a gimmick like Time Machine IMHO.
I am quite used to having the harddrive spin all the time on PC's and even for the whole PC system to get bogged down for no apparent reasons, as something fires up in the background (SVS host is a real CPU hog) ...but this never happened with MAC's...until Leopard.