Apple TV and the Home Sharing Nightmare

My household has three second generation Apple TVs which all rely on the iTunes library I have on a Drobo connected to my iMac. Until recently there would be the odd glitch and an Apple TV would decide that it didn’t want to play which was usually fixed by restarting iTunes and/or the Apple TV in question.

A few weeks ago Apple announced the third generation Apple TV, one which supported 1080p HD. Along with the new hardware came version 5 of the Apple TV firmware which could be installed on the older, second generation Apple TVs (the original Apple TVs are so different they are best considered a different product at this point). I dutifully updated all three Apple TVs and then the nightmare began.

Regularly the Apple TVs would lose their connection to the iTunes library and your film or TV show would be replaced by a message telling you that Home Sharing needed to be enabled. This wasn’t an infrequent event, this could happen three minutes into watching something. Once you got everything working again it could happen three minutes later. Essentially the Apple TVs became unwatchable.

This problem isn’t happening to everyone and I doubt that the cause is the same for everyone but in my case it turned out that having my wireless network extended via Airport Expresses was causing the problems. If I switched them all off apart from the main one then the two Apple TVs that could access the remaining wireless network were rock-solid.

Since this didn’t happen with version 4.x of the Apple TV firmware I’m guessing that the problem is software related and I am hoping that it is fixed in a future update. However, this doesn’t help me at the moment and my solution will be explained in my next update which will be all about reconfiguring my wireless network.

However, if you are suffering from Home Sharing drop-outs on your Apple TVs and you happen to have multiple WiFi hotspots it might be worth trying to turn them all off apart from one and seeing if that improves things.