579 Views 9 Replies Latest reply: Dec 4, 2005 10:18 PM by Buegie
Reformating and reimaging the PC will erase everything...including any music files on the PC. Backup you systemwide data (not just the music).
You can Use iTunes for Backing up your Music.
It works fine for music files BUT: I prefer more control and completeness over my backup process, and it is also important to note that a large limitation of using iTunes to manage the backup is that the iTunes method does not maintain the two meta-data files (iTunes Library.itl & iTunes Music Library.xml) where your Playlists, Ratings, Play Counts, etc. are stored. See: What are the iTunes Library files?
If you are heavily invested in your Library data (Playlists, Play Counts, Ratings, Last Played, Date Added, etc.), then:
it is critical that you also make multiple backups of your ‘iTunes Library.itl’ file.
If your music is located under one common Folder (e.g.-‘iTunes’), then it is easiest to physically copy that folder and all its sub-folders in one simple process. It can be done quickly, and incrementally – several times a day, when necessary. In the case of any data loss, just re-copy your entire (or partial) music library back to wherever it was, placing it in the main Folder that the previous iTunes expected. Along with the .ITL meta-data file, this completes a full ‘restore’ of your music to the time of your last backup.
Use of a backup software program will greatly help. It will allow you to easily perform incremental backups of only the files that have changed. WinXP has such a facility built-in. I use a free program called FileSync ( http://www.fileware.com ). There are many out there. Some use Zipped files or proprietary formats, others use standard file formats. I like FileSync as it uses normal file formats that can be viewed/managed via any Windows program or utility.
Here's a list of possible ways to copy your music files from your main iTunes computer to another storage medium for backup purposes.
1) Use an External Hard Drive to store the complete iTunes meta-data files and underlying Music Folder structure and songs from your main computer. They are quite cheap now, for their storage volume. This is my preferred main medium.
2) If you have two computers:
2a) Connect them through a router
2b) Connect them using a Direct (w/Mac) or Crossover (PC/PC) Ethernet cable (See: http://www.ifelix.co.uk/tech/3001.html)
2c) Connect them via a USB-to-USB Network Bridge. See: here as an example.
Copy the files and folders from one computer to the other. Use the second PC as your backup repository.
3) Burn several DVDs (at 4.7+ GBs each) with the music data files and store them safely. Re-writable ones are good for backup purposes (if your DVD drive can manage these).
4) Burn 6x more on CDs (at 700MB each) than in #3 above and store them safely in more space Re-writable ones are good for backup purposes (if your CD drive can manage these).
5) Use a larger USB Flash drive (1GB - 4GB) to store the files only if you have a small amount ripped music or have multiple and/or jumbo USB drives at your disposal that will fit your music library.
6) Use the second internal hard drive (if available) of your PC -- not optimum, as you really want to physically separate the storage of backups from the originals, but good as a tertiary storage device.
By keeping only one copy of your music (other than on the iPod), you are not truly 'backed-up' and are running a high risk of losing your music. Music files on just the iPod and the computer is not considered having any backup. If you cannot store your complete music files on the computer, then create and maintain two external sets.
You need at least three sets of your music:
-- One full set on the PC within iTunes (on internal HD or ExHD)
-- One full set on an separate external backup medium (CD/DVD/ExHD/other)
-- One (full or partial) set on the iPod
It is a good policy to backup all your important data. It is a very smart policy to back it up on more than one medium.
External hard drives now run less than $100 for 200-250GBs of storage. Very cheap backup insurance, indeed. See: http://dealnews.com/categories/Computer/Storage/Hard-Drives/USB-Hard-Drives/254. html
I've seen this post from you several times and clicked on the first link you provided with allowing iTunes to do the backup of the library. But that link only provides options for saving it to cd or dvd. I have an external hard drive that I plan on using to back up my library (especially since my computer just decided to act goofy again..). How do you recommend backing up the external one? I do believe I already have a copy of it on there from my last back up (of about a month ago) but of course I've purchased new songs and a couple of videos since then. I want to make sure that once I get my computer booted up and I haven't lost anything yet that I can get it all properly backed up.
I give the 'standard' iTunes backup link as a matter of course, but immediately caveat it by listing its limitations. One of them may be only using CDs or DVDs as a medium, but it is not too hard to make the leap to an ExHD process from there.
I very much dislike the minimal backup facility provided by iTunes. It puts an excessive burden on the end-user to manage it correctly and, as I indicated, completely leaves out any mention of the Library database file that should be routinely and repeatedly backed up and archived. At the least, it is ‘simple’ enough so that folks using it will not lose their music files.
I do list two easy methods for backing up to en ExHD:
- Just 'drag & drop' the complete 'iTunes' folder (and all sub-folders to your ExHD. Windows Explorer is fine for this 'brute-force' method.
- Download, install and use FileSync to setup a backup process that can be run with just several mouse-clicks. This will do a comparison of your current files and copy over (to any destination, preferably an ExHD) those files that have changed.
In your specific case, with an ExHD, I would do the following:
- Download and install FileSync: http://www.fileware.com
- Set up the Source Path as your 'iTunes' folder (and all sub-folders)
- Set up the Target Path as the 'Music Backup' folder of the ExHD (create it if needed)
- Create another sub-folder within the 'iTunes' folder labeled 'Legacy Libraries'
- Create yet another sub-folder within the 'iTunes' folder labeled 'Playlists'
- Use iTunes to ‘Export’ your Playlists to the ‘Playlists’ folder (in both TXT & XML form for each)
- Each time that you close iTunes, wait for it to finish writing the database files (both ITL & XML), then copy both over to the 'Legacy Libraries' folder and rename them with some sequential increment
- Run FileSync every day or so. More often if you are adding to or changing your iTunes Library information
If set up properly, FileSync will scan your complete 'iTunes' folder and compare it to the files on the ExHD. Any new changes will be displayed and you can copy some or all of them onto the ExHD.
The ‘iTunes’ folder will (should) contain:
- The two Library database files (iTunes Library.itl & iTunes Music Library.xml)
- The ‘iTunes Music’ folder (where all the Artist/Album folders are)
- The 'Legacy Libraries' folder where copies of previous Libraries are archived
- The 'Playlists' folder where copies of your Playlists are archived
You may also wish to include other folders where you store data files. Word & Excel docs, Pictures, anything that you create that needs to be backed up.
This is very easy. Do it more often than you think you should. HD space is very cheap, but the time to recover from a problem is costly. Frequent, complete, and multiple sets of backups are a great and inexpensive insurance policy for your valuable music (and data) collection.
Other (better) backup software may be available, but I have been successfully using FileSync since it was initially deployed when I worked, and see no reason to switch as it does the job I need. I’d rather spend my time learning other things than another backup utility.
Thanks Buegie. My ExHD is a Western Digital brand that also has an option to do automatic updates, set at my preference. If I wanted to just have it do it, would that almost be the same as what you described below? I was thinking about that earlier and remembered that it has that feature. Otherwise, I'll do it your way! Thankfully, when I managed to get my computer up and running this afternoon, all my music that I hadn't had a chance to back up (whether via cd or onto the ExHD) was still there, as well as the videos - yay! I tell ya, I'm not getting another HP again...I've gotten two "lemons" that have given me problems!
Anyway, thanks for the help! I'll take a look at things tomorrow night when I have more time.