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I figured out a way to describe my problem better. I wanted to keep my iTunes database files on my Lacie drive as well as the "iTunes Music" folder, so that if I brought it elsewhere and plugged it into somebody else's computer, all of my ratings, etc. would remain intact. iTunes didn't seem to have an option for storing those database files anywhere but on the local drive, where they would be inaccessible if I went elsewhere, but a forums user named phaseshifter posted this solution in the Applications forum at

"what you can do is move the iTunes folder in your Music folder to the external drive. Then rename the iTunes folder in the Music folder to iTunes.old, before you delete anything. Create an alias of the iTunes folder on the external drive an copy that file to the Music folder on your Mac. Rename the alias to iTunes from "iTunes alias". Now launch iTunes and it will read the from the folder on the external drive. Now when you unplug the external drive and then launch iTunes, iTunes will give you an error and not open. Plug the drive back in and iTunes will Launch. If you bring the drive to a friends house then you would have to do the same thing for his iTunes to read from your drive. When you leave you'd rename his iTunes.old folder back to iTunes so as not to screw up his stuff."

This technique is right on the money. Now, if my external Lacie HD isn't on, or plugged into my computer, and I try to start up iTunes, iTunes sends back a message that it "could not find any music folder", and refuses to start. This is precisely the scenario that I wanted. Now my external HD really is a vault (containing my music files AND iTunes database files), and iTunes will not run without it.

Thanks for a great service!

QUOTE Thanks