AOIP - Networked Audio

High Sierra & iOS ’11 – Files, Backups & Internet Sharing

I’ve seen a good amount of consternation over iOS & macOS updates. Both High Sierra and iOS ’11 are particularly daunting, in light of their new file system, functionality, and changes to our workflow. In any case, music production requires a more granular look at some of these changes. File management on iOS can be contentious, and producers working across Os’es with many files and apps, know the challenges. Let’s face it, a rock-solid recording flow coupled with proper file saving and managing is important, and Apple is evolving in very new ways with iOS ’11 and macOS High Sierra. Given that the interoperability of iOS and macOS is increasing on all fronts, it’s even more important to come to grips with the Apple way.

I try to take a reasonable approach; for me this means gaining as much understanding as I can, weighing some other factors, then coming to a final decision. In this case, however, I’ve been on the betas for both since June. I had decided to pick up my Developer’s License, and was tempted to try out the betas. After spending the summer using both exclusively, it was an easy decision for me to make the upgrade, which is to say keep on with iOS ’11 and macOS High Sierra.

While I’ve already written about quite a few of the Audio & MIDI features coming with iOS ’11 and macOS High Sierra here I want to focus on Content Caching and Internet Sharing, two entirely new services for macOS High Sierra, and iOS ’11:

Both Content Caching and Internet Sharing are highly Useful. Let’s continue learning about some of the features.

Table of Contents

  1. Establish Ethernet Connection on Mac
  2. Enabling Content Caching
  3. Enabling Shared Internet Connection
  4. types of Data the Caching Server backs up (and serves)
  5. Allocating the Caching Service Storage Space on your Mac
  6. Configuring Advanced Content Caching Preferences via Terminal and the Advanced Options Pane
  7. Content Caching – Wireless Style
  8. Final Tip – Changing the Default storage location for the Content Caching Service
  9. Take the Poll About these New Services 

Establish Ethernet Connection

To get started, you’ll need your Mac to be connected to the Internet via Ethernet. If you don’t have an ethernet jack, you can use the Apple Thunderbolt-to-Gigabit Ethernet Adapter, or the Apple USB-to-Ethernet adapter to establish the connection. However, don’t get dismayed if you don’t use ethernet, later on I’ll show the way to enabled Content Caching for Wireless environments.

Presuming you’ve established an ethernet connection, go ahead and turn off Wi-Fi.

Enabling Content Caching

Next navigate to System Preferences–>Sharing you’ll notice there’s a new Service listed Called Content Caching.

Once you’ve enabled the Content Caching service, you can decide whether to Cache iCloud content, and whether to Share Internet connection.

As noted in the above image, the Content Caching service reduces bandwidth usage and speeds up installations on supported devices by storing Software Updates, Apps, and other content on your computer. the “Cache iCloud Content” option stores iCloud data, like photos and documents, on your computer.

Enabling Shared Internet Connection

when enabled, utilizes your Mac’s internet connection, sharing it over the Lightning-to-USB cable to your iOS device. This feature is terrific, I’ve been using it for the past several months with no issues, and I get my maximum home download speeds of 70mb p/sec over the connection, and max upload as well. You won’t see anything register on the iPad when it’s on. But turn off your Wi-Fi, and there you go!

Content Caching has come to High Sierra from macOS Server. In Server, where it was called “Tethered Caching,” and usage was mostly designed for Enterprise deployments, where managing hundreds or more iOS users, devices, and the associated bandwidth makes such a service highly practical, but less so for typical end users. However, when you are dealing with large sample, music, app, photo and video libraries, and multiple devices, and want reliable, recallable backups, the Caching Service is now the way to go. Baking the Caching Service into High Sierra, the new AFPS File types, the Files app, and the removal of the “Apps” section in iTunes 12.7, are clear indicators of the direction Apple is taking on managing file, app, content, and device backups. That being said, if you happen to use multiple iOS devices, or want to utilize Apple’s method of backups, content servicing, and you want to save bandwidth and speed up Operating System updates, app recover, picture and file transfers, then the Caching Service is great.

Once an update is downloaded over the Lightning-to-USB connection, it is Cached

Now, any subsequent downloads of that update on your other devices will be delivered over Lightning-to-USB as well. This means the Apple Servers are only contacted once, so the download is just a matter of pushing it out to the device, which is lightning-fast, waka-waka.

You’ll definitely want to read on though, as configuring the Caching Server and understanding its behavior are key to properly managing expectations and behavior of the Caching Service

Types of Data Backed up by the Caching Service

Let’s start with the types of Data the Caching Server backs up (and serves). Apple has a good document on this

Here are the Highlights:

So as you can see, there’s a good bit of your data that can be Cached by the service.

Allocating the Caching Service Storage Space on your Mac

However, doing some digging I discovered there are more granular options for the Caching Service, which are important to know about:

System Preferences–>Sharing–>Content Caching – Click the Options Tab.Here you decide how much of your Mac’s hard drive you want to allocate to the Caching Service, which defaults to 2 GB. What does this mean? Well, the Caching Service is somewhat round-robin. Once it has used that 2GB, it returns to Start and begins Overwriting the Cached Data. If you think about it, depending on the frequency of updates, and normal archiving needs, a Couple GB will go a long way to save bandwidth and serve updates to your family of devices. However, if backups are more important, you’ll want to increase that Cache. If you elect to Cache iCloud content, you’ll want enough Cache to cover your iCloud storage. There are even more considerations here, which I will cover in a later post. But, for example, the Caching Service will also delete certain content types if they aren’t “requested” by any of your devices for a certain time period. If this were to include an app backup, it wouldn’t be available. You’ll want to look into multiple cache servers and other options related to storage behavior. Again, I’ll cover these later, or feel free to drop a Question in the comments.

Configuring Advanced Content Caching Preferences via Terminal and the Advanced Options Pane

Now, if you’re not freaked out to open Terminal, you can set some other useful options. These options are useful enough, that I wish they were baked into the Content Caching section of Sharing preferences. You’ll need be on macOS 10.13 or later for these to work:

Content Caching Advanced Parameters are set by:

sudo -u assetcache defaults write /Library/Preferences/com.apple.AssetCache.plist

After the above command use:

sudo AssetCacheManagerUtil reloadSettings

if you prefer, you can directly edit the Caching Service .plist. Its default location is:

/Library/Preferences/com.apple.AssetCache.plist file.

**Also Note** to make any changes to the Caching Service that are Not editable on the Content Caching Tab in System Preferences, you’ll need to Stop and Start Content Caching. You do this by simply unchecking/rechecking the “On” tab in the Services Pane.

Lastly, I discovered you can Access quite a few Advanced Options by holding down the Option Key while on the Content Caching Tab in the Sharing menu: 

Content Caching – Wireless Style

This feature is hidden, but useful enough that I’m including it in this initial article.

I noted above that you need a Wired Ethernet Connection to initialize the Caching Service. However, you can indeed utilize the Caching Service over Wi-fi, – it’s worked great for me, but I do want to hear how others are finding the wireless aspect?

Use: AllowWirelessPortable to enable Wireless Content Caching. (Remember the Content Caching Service must be Stopped/Restarted for the new Wireless Content Caching service to initialize).

For me thus far, the Content Caching Service, and Shared Internet have worked great. They do require a bit of homework. If you think about it, having a rock solid internet connection over Lightning-to-USB is really useful! You can still run StudioMux, use the Network Session for MIDI, and keep your devices updated in a managed and bandwidth-friendly manner.

Final Tip – Changing the Default storage location for the Content Caching Service

I mentioned above the default Mac location for the Content Caching Service’s files:/Library/Application Support/Apple/AssetCache/Data. You can change the directory where your cached assets are stored by using DataPath /… Doing so will only change the path for the Cached Assets going forward, so take the option on initial setup. The documentation states there’s a way to reconcile multiple paths – but I haven’t found it yet. If anyone figures it out, drop a note in the comments.

 

 

 

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