Thursday, June 10, 2010

Solved: iTunes Home Sharing Problem

A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away I was wrestling with an issue where iTunes home sharing between my two Vista computers would not work properly. All the computers were signed in using the same account and they appeared in the other computer’s “Shared” list in iTunes. However, when clicking on the computer in the list the computer would briefly disappear with its home share icon and then reappear with a regular sharing icon. If I clicked on it again it would disappear altogether until the next time I rebooted iTunes.

I wasn’t the only person having this problem and I had gone through a few steps to try to diagnose the issue. I could get home sharing to work with another PC in the house running XP, and I could get it running with the server in the basement running Windows Server 2003. Vista machines seemed to be able to home share with other machines as long as they weren’t running Vista.

And then a (not-so) funny thing happened. The wireless connection on my laptop stopped working... at least it stopped working properly. It would connect with the router and get an IP address and report that everything was happy, but it couldn’t connect to anything else (the entire internet, for instance). After diagnosing that for a while I found out that it was the NCP Universal IPSec Client I am using (the reason I’m using it documented here). After uninstalling it the network connection started working again. I reinstalled the client and the network connection continued to work, so I thought nothing of it.

Until it did it again a few weeks later. I uninstalled the client from my laptop and left it uninstalled as I was away from the house and didn’t have time to go download it and reinstall. Some time later I was using iTunes on the laptop at home and for ha-ha’s clicked on the name of my desktop PC. Voila, it worked and I started copying songs and playlists from the desktop PC iTunes to my laptop. On a hunch I reinstalled the NCP IPSec client and home sharing stopped working again.

I have a few other scenarios to try, but for the time being, for the 3 or 4 people on the internet who may run into this issue, try uninstalling your IPSec client (be it Cisco’s, NPC’s or somebody else’s) if your iTunes home sharing doesn’t work.