12 Replies Latest reply: Aug 4, 2009 7:37 AM by bfarber
bfarber Level 1 (0 points)
I'm sorry for asking a question I would assume has been asked a million times, I just couldn't find any direct topic that answered this question. The Apple KB seems to have a couple of entries that are helpful, but I don't feel confident they fully answer my query.

Basically, when I first setup my iPhone I was forced to use my wife's Vista laptop, because iTunes doesn't support Windows XP64. No biggie at the time, but I hate her laptop, and I have a new XP (32 bit) computer at the house that I use day in and day out, and I'd really like to get everything moved over to this new computer.

For me, that means all of my music and applications that I have manually loaded onto the laptop, and content purchased from my iPhone directly (all synced on the laptop already). Additionally, as I'm using an iPhone, I want to move all of the iPhone data over to my new computer as well. I certainly don't want to wipe/restore and start over!

From doing a little Googling, it seems that the following procedure should work. I'm just wondering if there's anything I'm missing, or if anyone has tried this either successfully or unsuccessfully.

To move my music and applications, I should be able to copy the My Music data folder entirely from the old PC to the new PC. This should be straightforward, best I can tell, and iTunes on the new pc should see all of the music (and applications) regardless of whether I then synced my iPhone or not. Since both pc's are on my local network, and I have around 8GB at most worth of music, I wouldn't expect this to take that long.

To move my iPhone backup, I should be able to copy the files from


on the laptop, to the similar folder on my new computer

C:\Documents and Settings\USERNAME\Application Data\Apple Computer\MobileSync\Backup

The information above was most clearly spelled out in this forum post at macrumors (transferring from PC to Mac, but steps would still be the same I'd imagine).


My one main sticking point that I haven't seen anywhere clearly confirmed is whether transferring the backup file alone will allow the new PC to automatically retain all of my iPhone data (SMS, etc. etc.). I use gmail for email, and I use gmail Sync (Exchange service) for contacts and calendars, so I'm not as concerned with that data, as I presume the data would be automatically restored, however everything else I'd like to retain. The process is a little scary given the lack of clear specific instructions, so I'm hopeful someone can chime in and confirm if the above will work flawlessly, and whether I should be on the lookup for any specific "gotchas" in the process.


iPhone OS 3.0
  • Jane Knox Level 3 (690 points)
    I have moved my iPhone back and forth between two different Macs several times without losing anything. (Macs, not PCs.)

    I did not use the Restore, I simply copied my entire ITunes folder from one Mac to the other and ran a sync. I get a message that the phone is synced to another computer so I tell it to sync to the new one.

    Then I have to go into iTunes and tell it to sync all the local data (Address Book, Calendar, etc).

    I have no idea if that will work the same on a PC: BACK UP everything on both computers first. If you have a disaster, you can restore the PC to the state it was in before you attempted the transfer.

    Hope that helps ...
  • dlcrouch Level 1 (20 points)
    a bit off topic, but ITunes does work under Vista x64. I just got a new desktop that came pre installed with x64 and had no problems installing and using ITunes.
  • JoeZinVA Level 2 (430 points)
    When I transferred it between my PC and Mac, I plug it in and right click the iPhone and "transfer from iPhone".

    Another alternative which I did was plugged in an external hard drive, and manually selected all my purchases from the user\music\iTunes folder and dragged the iTunes folder with the sub info to an external drive and then select the folder again and move it from the drive to the new computer in the same location it was
    (Windows: My Documents folder\music\iTunes)
    (Mac: Accountname\Music\iTunes)

    Note: For all purchase accounts, you need to authenticate. I have two accounts (gmail and me) which is troublesome. I have yet to find out how to change the email address properly from gmail to the me account since the account already exists.
  • Randy Fast Level 4 (1,415 points)
    He has XP not Vista, the 64 bit version is not supported.

    I've never tried transferring the backup file and restoring that way. I would say just transfer all your media and iTunes library file to the new computer and set it up as new.
  • Jane Knox Level 3 (690 points)
    I have two accounts (gmail and me) which is troublesome. I have yet to find out how to change the email address properly from gmail to the me account since the account already exists.

    Yep. Happened to me too after the MobileMe transition. You cannot fix it yourself but the people at Apple can fix it. Go to http://www.apple.com/support/itunes/#music_purchases and keep digging through the windows until you get to an _"Email Us"_ option.

    It took me about two weeks and they kept escalating the issue, but my request finally got far enough up the chain to find someone who could combine the two accounts under a single user name.

    Good luck!
  • bfarber Level 1 (0 points)
    Transferring the media should be no problem, I agree.

    But if I set it up as new, won't that wipe my phone? I really really don't want to do that, and I'm convinced there has to be a better way to move to a new computer than restoring your iPhone completely.
  • JoeZinVA Level 2 (430 points)
    bfarber wrote:
    Transferring the media should be no problem, I agree.

    But if I set it up as new, won't that wipe my phone? I really really don't want to do that, and I'm convinced there has to be a better way to move to a new computer than restoring your iPhone completely.

    Yes and No. If you have the files on the iTunes folder, it wipes the music and videos but not the Applcations and Data. It just recopies your Music and Videos after you checkboxed everything in all the tabs and hit "Apply" and "Erase and Sync".

    I did it this morning when I decided to re-use my Mini when I found a convenient hiding place from my relatives.
  • bfarber Level 1 (0 points)
    Great, thank you for replying. I spoke with some co-workers and was informed that the aforementioned "Erase" option only erases music (and perhaps applications?). It does not otherwise wipe any data from the phone. So, the transfer process appears to be

    1) Copy music to new pc
    2) Plug phone into new pc. Choose erase option. Phone will then make a backup on the new pc (which will take some time as it's a full backup and not incremental).
    3) Do a sync on the new pc, it will copy all the music back over, and nothing else will be lost.

    That's a lot simpler than it sounds like if you start googling how to do this, and that giant scary "WOULD YOU LIKE TO ERASE YOUR PHONE????" message kind of threw me off a bit. I'm going to give this a go later today and will reply back to confirm that it went smoothly.
  • bfarber Level 1 (0 points)
    Ok, I got it transferred. A few hiccups, but what's done is done.

    Here's what I did and what happened in the process

    1) Installed iTunes (didn't even have it installed). When I installed the latest copy of iTunes it installed Quicktime 7.5 instead of 7.5.5, so I couldn't even launch iTunes right away. Had to go manually upgrade Quicktime first, but afterwards, iTunes launched.

    2) Copied My Music folder over to new PC. This was straightforward.

    3) Backed up iPhone (and upgraded to 3.0.1) on the laptop.

    4) Plugged phone into new PC. It made a backup right away, allowed me to Transfer the new purchases from my phone to iTunes, and had me authorize the account. It asked me to authorize my wife's account too, and I'm not really sure why (whether that was triggered from some of her music on my phone, or the files in My Music folder - have no idea). Luckily I guessed her password correctly.

    5) Sync completed, however my apps could not sync. When it got to the apps it said they were not authorized on the computer and to go to Store -> Authorize to allow them. I did this, but it just told me my pc was already authorized (as per step 4). This is where it got fun...

    Sync completed and my phone was fine, however all app store purchases were gone entirely. There was no Applications section to my Library, and my iTunes library basically saw no apps whatsoever.

    6) I then went to Import Folder and imported the applications from my itunes My Music folder (My Music\iTunes\Mobile Applications\) - all of the .ipa files were imported. There appear to be multiple copies of each application, perhaps one for each version I upgraded to?

    7) This pulled them all back into the library. Then did another sync and all apps are back on my phone in the correct locations/screens, however it wiped all application data for each app.


    Luckily, the only app that had important data, my Todo app, syncs with ToodleDo. I reinput my authorization for ToodleDo, did a sync, and cleaned up some old tasks.

    Otherwise, I think everything has gone fine. Notes, SMS, email, calendar, other app config (stocks, weather, etc.) all seem good.

    Thanks to everyone that replied with helpful information! Couple of hiccups, like I said, but overall I was able to overcome them.
  • Jane Knox Level 3 (690 points)
    Good for you! I am always impressed with users who work through issues (as opposed to ranting).

    And a big _Thank You_ for coming back to post the details and process here. Your post will be a big help to the next self-empowered user who wants to complete the same process.
  • spikesnet Level 1 (30 points)
    I moved mine from a mac to a pc by just copying the whole itunes folder.
  • bfarber Level 1 (0 points)
    No worries.

    And I'm a software developer (errr, PHP developer, but let's not get into semantics) by trade, so I try to avoid ranting. I know how useful it really isn't.

    Message was edited by: bfarber