Back in August, I whined about iTunes and how multiple library management just sucked. Well, somebody (not Apple, naturally) has gone a long way towards fixing it. The app is SuperSync, and it’s available for Windows and Mac, with a "pair" of licenses (to allow syncing two libraries/machines for just $29, which is a bargain in my book.
In addition to keeping iTunes libraries on two boxes/locations completely in sync (and with some amount of duplicate reduction, which I haven’t explored yet), it has a terrific "one-way" sync feature which is exactly what I needed. Here’s the use case: my laptop drive is much smaller (100GB) than my storage array, so I have two libraries, a large "main" one which sits on the storage array, and a "subset" library that lives on my laptop (and syncs with the iPod). The "main" array has a ton of stuff I’ve merged from other folks, fairly obscure things. The "subset" library has music I listen to all the time, all of my playlists, and is where I tend to rip new CD’s when I get them.
So the problem is how to make sure anything I add to the laptop’s subset library gets added to the main storage array library as well. This avoids having to rip CD’s twice, and it also makes sure that music I get from eMusic or the iTunes store is available in both places (since the storage array drives the Mac Mini/stereo in the house). SuperSync makes this easy — one of the synchronization modes is to "upload" things which are unique in the "local" library to the "remote" library. Obviously this can work in either direction, depending upon which copy of SuperSync you initiate the action from. This allows a very easy workflow for new CD’s or downloads — upload to the main library. And it allows me to "switch out" music from the laptop and replace it with music from the main storage array, when I want to copy things from the main library to the laptop but not use up my precious remaining disk space on the laptop.
I haven’t explored all of SuperSync’s features yet, and in particular I’m going to be interested in how it might help me deal with duplicates, since my "main" library on the storage array is chock full of duplication caused by unintelligent merging of libraries in the past. I’m also interested in how SuperSync deals with playlists — I have a ton of playlists (one needs playlists for the iPod, and because libraries with thousands or tens of thousands of tracks are unmanageable without some kind of organizing metaphor) which tend to originate on the laptop/iPod combo, and then migrate to the Mac Mini/storage array. But the process today is manual — export playlist/import playlist, and frankly this means that many of my playlists exist only on the laptop/iPod. If SuperSync helps with this problem, I’ll consider my earlier complaints to be a thing of the past.
Of course, it would be nice if iTunes would simply do all this without the need for a third-party application, but perhaps this is the first step: some entrepreneurs saw a need, fill a gap, and if they succeed, let’s hope Apple acquires and integrates the technology.