Posts tagged: hard-drive

iPhoto Library Sharing

Sharing a networked iPhoto (currently ’09, v8.x) library can provide access for multiple users. There are a number of ways to approach this, but I’ll focus on using an AirPort Extreme, shared network volume (hard drive).

Required hardware:

Installing and setting up your AirPort Extreme is dependent on your local network. Apple provides a couple of manuals to help:

It’s generally a good idea to re-partition and re-format any new hard drive to be more compatible with your Mac. Refer to Formatting your hard drive: in Time Machine Backup Trouble.

Because the AirPort Extreme provides Wi-Fi access, you may be tempted to use the shared library wirelessly. In my opinion, the data transfer rates are too slow for this to work.

Mounting your network volume.

  • From the Finder, Go > Network. (set your Finder window to column view)
  • Select your AirPort Extreme.
  • Click on your hard drive. It should mount and appear on your desktop. Depending on how you’ve setup your AirPort Extreme, you may need to supply a password. If so, save it in your Keychain by clicking Remember This Password In My Keychain.
  • If you’d like the shared drive to automatically mount whenever you use your Mac, open System Preferences > Accounts > your account > Login Items and drop the mounted drive’s desktop icon onto the item list window pane.
  • Follow the same procedure for each Mac that needs access to the network drive.

If you’ve enabled Guest access to your network drive (read & write) a password isn’t required. This may be a security risk if you have sensitive files stored on the network drive.

Storing iPhoto libraries on the network drive.

Defining terms:

  • Managed iPhoto Library: When photos are imported into iPhoto, copies are made and stored within the library.
  • Referenced iPhoto Library: When photos are imported, only references to the originals are stored in the library.

For the purpose of this tutorial, I assume that all iPhoto Libraries are Managed.

If your library is managed by iPhoto, then it may be copied to the network drive without problem.

Referenced libraries develop serious problems when the photos are moved. It’s entirely possible that upon moving the iPhoto Library file, it will retain its connection to the photos – as long as the photo storage remains available to the Finder. However, if the photo storage is moved, iPhoto’s references to those photos may be broken.

Managing iPhoto libraries on the network drive.

To open your iPhoto library after it’s moved to the network drive:

  • Launch iPhoto while pressing the Option key.
  • If the library you want isn’t in the list, click Other Library…
  • Navigate to the desired library and click Open.

If the library list contains your library, just select it and click Choose.

To create a new iPhoto library:

  • Launch iPhoto while pressing the Option key.
  • When asked what library you want to use, click the Create new… button
  • Navigate to your network drive.
  • Enter the name of your new library.
  • Click the Save button


When launching iPhoto, holding the Option key will allow the desired library to be selected.

Any particular library may be access my just one user at a time.

The iPhoto applications used to access your shared library, must be the same version.

For extensive library management, you may find iPhoto Library Manager ($20) to be useful. A free alternative is iPhoto Buddy.

An alternative to network storage is to simply store your iPhoto Library on an external hard drive. This drive can be moved to a different computer and the library accessed as outlined above.

Keep in mind that data transfers are much slower using Ethernet as compared to usb or FireWire.

Time Machine Backup Trouble

If your Time Machine backup fails, try these fixes:

  • Restart your computer and try the backup again. i.e. use the menu bar TM icon and select “Backup Now” after your restart.
  • Make sure your computer’s name doesn’t include the characters ? or /. You’ll find the name in System Preferences > Sharing
  • Make sure your backup drive’s name doesn’t have ? or /.

There are lots of hints on Apple’s Time Machine Troubleshooting page.

If you believe that the data on your TM drive may need to be repaired:

  • Turn off TM from within its Preferences.
  • Use Disk Utility (Applications > Utilities) to “Repair Disk”.

If your Mac is freezing up when TM runs, and you’ve found yourself needing to force a restart or power down:

  • With your Mac’s power off, disconnect your TM drive.
  • Power up your Mac.
  • Turn off TM from within its Preferences.
  • Attach your TM hard drive and power it up.
  • Use Disk Utility (Applications > Utilities) to “Repair Disk”.

Formatting your hard drive:

Note: Connect your HD directly to your computer for formatting. Once connected and powered up, run Disk Utility.

Your HD must be properly formatted to work with TM. The HD must use a Partition Map Scheme of either GUID Partition Table (for Intel Macs) or Apple Partition Map (for PPC Macs).

Partition Map Scheme

Partition Map Scheme

It must also use a Format of Mac OS Extended (Journaled).




Below you’ll find miscellaneous notes about Time Machine. Many were gleaned from MacWorld forums.

Moving Time Machine to a new hard drive:

This may may be required if you get a larger drive for TM or if you need to reformat your existing TM drive. Dragging your old TM backup folder to a new drive does NOT work.

  • SuperDuper (v2.5 or greater ~ $28) can copy a TM volume — Update TM hard drive — Use SuperDuper to copy back.
  • Disk Utility (in your Application folder) can be used to create a .dmg of the TM volume — Update TM hard drive — Restore (with Erase Disk Option set).

Hard drive partitioning & formatting:

  • If your hard drive’s Partition Map Scheme is MBR (Master Block Record) then the maximum partition size is 512GB.
  • Don’t use MBR as your partition scheme unless you need it for compatibility with DOS/Windows.
  • Always use either APM (Apple Partition Map) or GUID (Globally Unique Identifier) as your drive’s Partition Map Scheme.
  • Intel based Macs should use GUID partition map.
  • PPC based Macs should use APM.
  • Each partition has its own format.
  • Format your TM partition as “Mac OS Extended (Journaled)”. This format is also known as HFS+ (Hierarchical File System Plus)

What Time Machine shouldn’t backup:

  • Disk images (encrypted or not) within which you make minor changes. TM will backup the entire image with every change made to these images.
  • Parallels and Fusion images.


  • Get rid of unwanted TM files: Within TM, the Finder-window button-bar has a “gear” drop down menu. Select “Delete All Backups of …” If you don’t see the “gear” you may need to add it using the menu: View — Customize Toolbar…
  • Want to change how often Time Machine backs-up your files? Use TimeMachineEditor (free).
  • You may want to turn off TM, if you’re doing lots of file intensive work. Turn it back on when you’re done.
  • If you reorganize your hard drive, and move around a bunch of files, it can take some time for the next TM backup to complete.
  • If TM is interrupted, you may corrupt your backup storage. Interrupted includes: force quit, unplug the hard drive, unplug the computer, or force a power down.
  • You can use TM to backup to a hard drive connected to an Airport Extreme – over ethernet or Wi-Fi (I haven’t tried this). Be sure that your Wi-Fi uses a password or it may not work properly with TM.
  • Using NAS (network attached storage) drive may work with TM. Not sure it’s a good idea… but maybe. NetGear

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Update 12-6-2009, transferred to WP