11 Replies Latest reply: Jun 23, 2007 11:12 AM by mrbmw
Lewis Roberts1 Level 1 (0 points)
what's the best and easiest way to back up my itunes music library to an external hard drive and what's the best and easiest way to open the files in the externa hard drive once itunes is backed up to it

dell, Windows XP
  • Buegie Level 6 (13,330 points)
    Well....You can Use iTunes for Backing up your Music, but I do not favor this mehtod. Buegie

    It works fine for music files BUT: I prefer more control and completeness over my backup process. It is also very important to note that a large limitation of using iTunes to manage the backup is that the iTunes method does not create or maintain backups of 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.), it is crucial that you also make and archive 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 ‘iTunes Library.itl’ metadata 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.

    iTunes Files to Backup (anytime you make additions or changes to the Music or Library that you want to retain)
    1) All music files in their current folder structure (usually located in and under the ‘iTunes Music’ folder)
    2) The Library database file: ‘iTunes Library.itl’ located in the ‘iTunes’ folder
    3) The Library XML file: ‘iTunes Music Library.xml’ located in the ‘iTunes’ folder
    4) Any XML playlist files created for Playlist retention
    5) The two iTunes.pref files (optional)
    -- C:\Documents and Settings\<your username>\Application Data\Apple Computer\iTunes\iTunes.pref
    -- C:\Documents and Settings\<your username>\Local Settings\Application Data\Apple Computer Inc\iTunes.pref
    6) The XML file of Ratings, Play Counts and Last Played attributes saved from the main Library and created by Otto’s SaveRatings script (also optional, but recommended):
    “Download this: http://ottodestruct.com/itunes/SaveRatings.zip . It's a program, just run it like any other program. Run it on the machine where you're copying the info from BEFORE you move the files to the new machine. Click the "Save Ratings" button and it'll create a ratings.xml file. Now when you move the files, move the program and this file as well. Then after you make your new iTunes library, run it again and click the "Restore Ratings" button. Voila, all your information is back in the Library. Well, most of it anyway, it's not perfect. It'll tell you what songs it couldn't figure out though, and there's usually not very many.”

    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 – 4+GBs) 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’s internal HD, then create and maintain at least two external sets (any multiple combinations of ExHDs, DVDs, CDs).

    You need at least two full sets of your music, not including what is on the iPod:
    -- 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 This Link
  • HEC Level 1 (45 points)
    Hello Buegle....I really appreciate the information regarding backing up certain files. My Music Library is moderate size and it appears that just copying the music folder off line sounds like the easiest however as stated earlier the folder is too large to fit on 1 disc. How can I copy in increments to fit on 2 or 3 discs? The copy wizard in windows does not prompt for additonal discs like Itunes does when burning to CDs.

    Thanking you in advance

  • Alan Freemond Level 1 (5 points)
    Very helpful. Thanks
  • jc2 Level 1 (0 points)
    I backed up my Itunes to a USB storage device. When my hard disk crashed I had to buy another drive and when I tried to restore my Itunes it will not restore and I'm assuming it's because I had to download another version of the Ipod and Itunes software from online and it does not match my backup on the USB storage device. Is there anyway to restore my music to the hard drive from the storage device or from my Ipod?
  • Scumitup Level 1 (0 points)
  • Jerry2134 Level 1 (0 points)
    Dear Buegie,

    I read your Mar 18, 2006 message below, but would like to backup with Itunes I have a 60G Ipod and my wife a 20G. We sync to the same computer based on "checked/unchecked" in the main library and playlists.

    My question to you (or any other knowledgable person):

    Will backup using Itunes 7 preserve the "check/unchecked" in library and playlists OR will it check everything before or in copying?

    Jerry 2134
  • PHGordon Level 1 (0 points)
    I enjoyed your post regarding back up. I ripped my large library on a Mac, and tranferrd it to a network drive. I want a windows computer to see the library, but must add folder by folder. Will the Mac library.itl work on a windows computer?

    Thanks in advvance
  • ConnieK Level 1 (0 points)
    I have my library on a 500 gig external hard drive because it was too large to keep on my PC. Can I make a back-up copy on another external hard drive???

    Dell   Windows XP Pro  
  • lsb Level 1 (120 points)
    Thanks for the great post. I am using Backup to copy my files to an external drive. I have found the following files to copy:

    Album Artwork
    iTunes Library
    iTunes Music
    iTunes Music Library.xml
    Previous iTunes Libraries
    Temp File

    However, I can't find the iTunes Library.itl file, even when trying a find file search. Am I covered with the back up that includes the above?

    And do you need to backup previous libraries?

    Many thanks.
  • RubyRooz Level 1 (0 points)
    My question is, how do I change settings to backup to "DVD" instead of "Cd"? Everytime I try to back things up in iTunes, the only option I see is to backup to Cd. I rarely backup anything to Cd, I use my external DVD burner which in my opinion works so much better, not to mention would naturally use far less discs. I am clueless where I can change the settings for iTunes to recognize that I don't want to use Cds. I truly hope one of you knowledgable souls out there can lend a hand to a new iPod owner.
    ((Thanks))ever-so-much for any help/tips anyone can send my way.

    Compaq Presario   Windows XP  
  • mrbmw Level 1 (0 points)
    I just need to back one GENRE I have 3tera gig drives of music. I don't want to backup entire tunes lib . Is it possible to just backup select genres, or specific playlist to data dvd for a positive restore option? Where might i find these steps ? I want to do the Complete Genre , Not just what has changed.