Here are typical layouts for the iTunes folders:
To restore your library you need both the media files and the database file iTunes Library.itl. The other library files and even the album artwork folder can be reconstructed if missing but the database is the file that records all the playlists, play counts, etc. The library also contains an ID that should match a record on your device, or iTunes will see itself as a "new" library and want to replace all current content on the device.
If for some reason your backup is incomplete then see Recover your iTunes library from your iPod or iOS device.
Note the .xml file is provided to support 3rd party apps. iTunes doesn't normally make use of it except in rare cases when the .itl file is corrupted.
These are two possible approaches that will normally work to move an existing library to a new computer.
- Backup the library with this User Tip.
- Deauthorize the old computer if you no longer want to access protected content on it.
- Restore the backup to your new computer using the same tool used to back it up.
- Keep your backup up-to-date in future.
Connect the two computers to the same network. Share your <User's Music> folder from the old computer and copy the entire iTunes library folder into the <User's Music> folder on the new one. Again, deauthorize the old computer if no longer required.
Both methods should give the new computer a working clone of the library that was on the old one. As far as iTunes is concerned this is still the "home" library for your devices so you shouldn't have any issues with iTunes wanting to erase and reload.
I'd recommend method 1 since it establishes an ongoing backup for your library.
If you have an iOS device that syncs with contact & calendar data on your computer you should migrate this information too. If that isn't possible create a dummy entry of each type in your new profile and iTunes should offer to merge the existing data from the device into the computer, otherwise the danger is that it will wipe the information from the device.
If your media folder has been split out from the main iTunes folder you may need to do some preparatory work to make it easier to move. See make a split library portable.
Should you be in the unfortunate position where you are no longer able to access your original library, or a backup of it, then see Recover your iTunes library from your iPod or iOS device for advice on how to set up your devices with a new library with the maximum preservation of data. If you don't have any Apple devices then see HT2519 - Downloading past purchases from the App Store, iBookstore, and iTunes Store.
Sorry I haven't come back earlier but there has been a major family problem over the last few days.
I don't see that any of the advice you have given will really solve my problem. Let me explain.
1. When I say a 'new machine' it is actually the same one having undergone Recovery (Hewlett Packard). Therefore in the eyes of Apple it is new.
2.Absolutely everything on the iPod is transferred from my own CD collection. To date I haven't used iTunes Shop. There are about 66 gigabytes (Classical and Jazz, all very carefully listed as I want).
3. I have taken your tip and made the iPod unable to sync automatically. This should stop anything happening by accident.
4. I still have CD's to add to my iPod but clearly if I tried to do so the iTunes autmatic syncing would take over and I'd lose everything,
My conclusion is this.
I shall be away from home (where my CD collection is for some months. Until I am back in the UK I shall use the iPod as it is, delete iTunes from my machine, and then start all over again repeating the entire operation. A big job as I tend to be a bit fussy about getting it right. Then, if I do lose everything I can at least replace it all.
Would you agtree with my conclusions?
Once again, let me say how grateful I am to you for your interest.
See Recover your iTunes library from your iPod or iOS device. If all your media is in formats other than .wav head straight for the link to the iLounge article at the end which will explain how you can copy all your media files back into a computer for free, and have them all reorganized with the data in their tags. If you have .wav files then it would be worth exploring the features of the commercial tools.