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Monday, December 10, 2007

iTunes Sync Speed Varies Greatly between Minimized and Maximized

This past weekend, Ashley’s 8GB iPhone had considerable issues with the music syncing between her iPhone and iTunes on her computer. Although I was able to solve the issue and get the music to sync again, it was not until after I had already wiped the music off of her iPhone that I realized the issue.

On a side note, I think the source of the issue might have been the network connectivity between my machine and Ashley’s – I store both high quality VBR MP3’s and lower quality ACC files on my computer. Ashley’s iTunes connects to my computer to sync up the music. Although iTunes did not complain, I wonder if the network drive was severed.

However, back to the subject of this post. First, the remove of all music from the Apple iPhone meant that some 2500+ songs needed to make their way back to her iPhone through iTunes. After a couple of tries, it was going really slowly. I mean really slowly.

Checking the bandwidth utilization between my computer and Ashley’s revealed that it was only using about 14k average network rate between the two machine. At that rate copying 6GB of music would take oh, about 3 days.

Something was wrong. I tried a number of various things.

First, I thought the problem might be the network. I flipped both computers to use 100/full settings rather than auto-negotiate thinking the router was having an issue. No luck there.

In fact, why trying to sync song #6, I received a message that iTunes had a problem connecting to the network and stopped the process.

I looked at the processor (CPU) utilization – nothing there. Memory utilization – nothing out of the ordinary there either. Disk utilization – no activity worth mentioning was happening. I could not understand what the deal was.

As a last ditch effort, I rebooted both my machine and Ashley’s thinking that might fix the issue. Oddly enough it did.

But, it was not because of the reboot. Ashley’s computer is set to automatically start Apple’s iTunes on startup, in minimized mode and sync. When I check on iTunes, it had magically already synced about 700 songs. A quick inspection on my computer and sure enough, the transfer rate was up in the 3MB/second range – about where it should be.

As soon as I opened up iTunes into the maximized start it grinded to a halt. Immediately the sync speed slowed and the network utilization went down to 14k/sec again. Crazy behavior. Testing to verify, I minimized the iTunes application again and sure enough the rate was increased to 3MB/sec again.

I decided to leave iTunes in the minimized states and it was not more than 5 minutes until I heard the synchronization complete with the iTunes. Unexplainable.

Has anyone else experienced this odd behavior with Apple iTunes? We’re running the latest version here and it appears there is something locking the program from quickly syncing the files from the computer onto the iPhone when it is in the maximized state.