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Q&A: MacFixIt Answers

This week, readers e-mailed in questions about archiving iPhoto libraries among other topics.

MacFixIt Answers is a feature in which I answer Mac-related questions e-mailed in by our readers.

This week, readers wrote in with questions about managing DVD collections in a central networked library, a missing or malfunctioning "purge" command in OS X, and options for archiving photos from an iPhoto library. I welcome views from readers, so if you have any suggestions or alternative approaches to these problems, please post them in the comments!

Question: Managing DVD collections in a central networked library
MacFixIt reader "brunnerr" asks:

What's your best recommendation for archiving DVD's to a network drive, for optimal HD playback either AppleTV (presumably through iTunes Library??) or other media player. Looking to retire my physical inventory of 200+ DVD's to the NAS, and allow playback over the network via either my AppleTV, or my DirecTV receiver in the kids' playroom. Appreciate any input. Thanks in advance.

The approach I'd recommend here is for homemade DVDs to use Disk Utility to create a CD/DVD Master disk image of the DVD. To do this, insert the DVD and in Disk Utility choose "New Disk Image from Device" from the File > New menu. Then be sure to choose "CD/DVD Master" as the format to use for the image. This process will work for nonprotected DVDs, but for those with protection you will first need to use a ripping tool to extract the DVD as a raw VIDEO_TS folder, and then use a tool like Roxio Toast to make a new disk image from the contents of the folder, which can then be burned to disk or stored elsewhere as a backup.

For playback through iTunes, you will need to use a ripper program that will encode the DVDs to a single file, which you can then import into your iTunes library or other network-based media library for playback. One of the best encoding tools for this is the utility Handbrake.

Question: Missing or malfunctioning purge command in OS X
MacFixIt reader Arthur asks:

Why does "purge" work in Mountain Lion, but not in Snow Leopard?

It should work for both versions of OS X. Keep in mind this does not clear memory beyond removing inactive RAM and thereby returning the system more to how it was after a reboot, so depending on your system's RAM uses you may not see much of a change with using this command.

If the command issues you a long error output string that mentions something about a missing "osx-12.1.0.xml" file, then you can see this previous article of mine to see how to fix this issue.

However, if when you try to run the "purge" command the system instead only says "-bash: asdfhasdf: command not found" as the output, then you will need to download and install the XCode developer tools from the Mac App Store and then install the command-line tools (done in the Downloads section of the XCode preferences (in the Components tab).

Question: Options for archiving photos from the iPhoto library
MacFixIt reader Wes asks:

I have been using iPhoto to archive our family photos almost since the first version was released. I back up the library weekly on two different drives and upgrade to the most recent version when released. However, I get a little nervous the way Apple suddenly drops support for a product and I am looking for a way to archive the photos long-term (20-30 years). HDs, flash drives, DVDs seem to be a good idea, but will they still be around long-term? Any recommendations?

You should be good. While iPhoto as a program may change in the future or perhaps lose support, the iPhoto library is just a packaged hierarchy of files that can be opened directly in the Finder (right click the library and choose Show Package Contents) to see this. Therefore the photos should at least be accessible.

Alternatively when archiving, instead of copying only the library file, you can additionally (or instead) export the photos from it to save as originally sized and formatted pictures. This will not save their metadata and organization, but it will ensure that they are saved in the way that is easiest to access by any computer.

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