14 Replies Latest reply: Nov 13, 2012 12:06 PM by turingtest2
dignityjec Level 1 (0 points)


I had a Dell laptop with Windows XP on it recently crash, but I have everything saved to a Seamagine external 1 terabyte hard drive. I have about 250 gigabytes of media on it, mostly CD's and audiobooks. The setup I had on the XP computer was my Itunes folder saved on the C drive, but I kept all the actual music and audiobooks on the external hard drive, which was labeled the F drive.


After the crash, a relative sold me their three year old Compaq laptop, with Windows 7 instead of XP as the OS. My relative already had Itunes downloaded on it, but when I opened the Itunes on the new (new to me) laptop, Itunes only recognized their (my relative's) account. So, I uninstalled their Itunes and then I re-downloaded Itunes for 64-bit Windows 7. I then opened the Windows Explorer folder so to drag and drop my backed up Itunes folder and library information from the old C drive to the new Itunes folder in the new C drive. But, it wouldn't do anything. It still wanted the password info from my relative's account. It wouldn't recognize my account, even though I had uninstalled and then reinstalled a newer version of Itunes. Dragging and dropping my backed-up Itunes folder from my external hard drive to the new C drive didn't work because it said it didn't have certain permissions or something like that. I think I might have downloaded a newer version of Itunes, different from what I had saved a couple of days ago, which might be one of the problems here, not to mention that I switched OS's from XP to Windows 7. 


When I plugged the external hard drive USB into the new laptop no Seamagine manager came up for user-friendly accessibility. I didn't know what to do, so I installed Seagate Dashboard onto the new computer. It didn't do anything for me either. No problem, I thought, I'll just use Windows Explorer to move the Itunes library, and then once I transfer (i.e., drag and drop) the old Itunes folder to the one, all will be as it was. I could then direct my Itunes account to use my external hard drive as the media source folder. I was wrong. It won't let me do that either. It says I don't have permission to do it. 


How c an I get my old Itunes library info onto the C drive of this new computer, but keep the 250GB of media files on the external hard drive, just like the setup I had on the old laptop before it crashed? If you can help me, then you will be my hero. I'm scared to death that I've lost my library info and afraid to mess with it too much more for fear of erasing it or, worse, losing the 250 GB of media that is on the external hard drive, which has taken me a tremendous amount of time and money to compile. It is, in effect, irreplaceable. I'm very worried and frustrated. I've been working on this for days, to no avail. You're my last hope. Thank you.

Windows 7
  • identd Level 2 (355 points)

    Hold down the shift key when opeing itunes

    choose the top iTunes folder on your external HDD

  • dignityjec Level 1 (0 points)

    There is no top Itunes folder. From Windows Explorer, do you mean go to Backup, then C folder, then Program Files, and then Itunes?


    Holding the shift key down when I try to open it does nothing. It won't open.

  • dignityjec Level 1 (0 points)

    I think I made the problem worse when I dragged the Itunes folder on my external hard drive to the newly downloaded version of Itunes on my new laptop, since Itunes had been updated since I backed it up. Either way, it won't open now. Would downloading Itunes again work? If I uninstall the one on my laptop now, the Itunes that won't open, wouldn't I lose the Itunes folder that I dropped and dragged earlier (as explained in my initial post)?

  • turingtest2 Level 9 (64,795 points)

    Sounds like your original library with ratings, playlists, play counts etc. has been lost along with the dead Dell laptop. Rather than recreate the same set up I suggest you create a new iTunes library at X:\iTunes where X: is the drive letter currently assigned to the external drive, then move/rename your media folder to X:\iTunes\iTunes Media and finally use File > Add folder to library to import the media from X:\iTunes\iTunes Media.


    To create a new library click the icon to start iTunes and immediately press and hold down the shift key. Keep holding until asked to choose or create a library. If iTunes opens normally close and try again, otherwise click create, browse to X:\, make sure the folder name reads iTunes and click save. Then proceed to add the media.


    The advantage of this approach is that the entire library is in a self-contained and portable form. If Windows decides to give the drive a different drive letter you simply shift-start iTunes, browse to the new ?:\iTunes folder and open the iTunes Library.itl file inside it. Everything works. You can also connect the drive to any other computer running the same build of iTunes and connect in the same way.


    To avoid problems in the future you should really invest in a second external drive and backup your library to it.



  • dignityjec Level 1 (0 points)

    Why does it sound like I've lost my library? It is saved to the external hard drive, not just once, but mulitiple times. And I do have a second external hard drive it is backed up to, though the second external drive hasn't been backed up for about a month. The primary external hard drive that I'm trying to restore from, a Seamagine GoFlex 1 terabyte, has the more recent backups.

  • dignityjec Level 1 (0 points)

    *********************Where I said "Seamagine," I mean "Seagate" external hard drive. My bad.

  • turingtest2 Level 9 (64,795 points)

    I omitted the word database. It looks like you've lost your library database. Importing the media into a new library will bring back the collection of albums, but other data such as paylists, ratings, playcounts etc. are only stored in the iTunes Library.itl database file. Lose that and you have to start over.


    Do a search for all files of the form *.itl - if you have a backup copy of your old library file somewhere then I can explain how to open it and offer suggestions/tools to reconnect any broken links.



  • dignityjec Level 1 (0 points)

    Oh, cool! Now things are starting to make sense a bit. I don't care about the ratings, play counts, playlists. Besides playlists, I never paid much attention to the ratings and such. Do I need the *.itl file to get the library listing back? The only thing I really want, besides the actual music, is the library listing of Artist-Song-Album-Genre-Year. You know, the basic info of each song/album. That would be SOOO time consuming to have to go through and listen to each song, manually typing in that data.

    I don't see any *.itl folders in my Windows Explorer of the Seagate Backups folder. That might be synced with the Itunes from when I tried to drag/drop (as described in a previous post in this thread, above).


    To be honest, right now I'm scared to do anything. I don't want to screw anything up more, LOL! The only other choice I have, though is to go to Geek Squad at Best Buy and pay them $100 to do it for me. I don't want to do that, but if I have to so to have my music back, I will. I bought the external hard drive from Best Buy.


    You have helped, though, so I give you props. Any additional info, and especially info that is clear enough for me to not be afraid to attempt alone, is VERY greatly appreciated! Thank you!

  • turingtest2 Level 9 (64,795 points)

    The other data; artist, album, song name, track number, genre etc. should be stored in the tag of each file. If you follow the plan in my first post you should be good.



  • dignityjec Level 1 (0 points)

    Thank you, Turingtest2!

    Sorry about the delayed response. Apple has been "read only" all day long today due to website ballyhoo, until now.

    Because I'm paranoid about doing this, I'm going to tell you how I interpret what you're saying to do before I actually do anything. Please tell me where I'm wrong, which I'm sure that I am in many places here, LOL. I'm not completely inept, but I'm not very tech-savvy either.

    First, let me mention that the external hard drive(a Seagate GoFlex)  that has my backups on is now my G drive. Second, this external hard drive, G drive, while it has my entire C drive backed up on it, is the primary and only place that I keep the actual music files on. So, the only backup of the actual (250GB of) music files that I have is on a completely other hard drive that I should probably update more often than I do. I keep the Itunes folder on my normal C drive, but since the C drive cannot fit 250GB's of music, the actual music files are all on my external (G) hard drive. I hope that makes sense.


    So, here's how I interpret your directions, which I'm sure is not the way you mean them, LOL: 

    1. I right-click and choose "Create a new folder" within my G drive. I name the folder "Itunes."

    2. I then move the entire Itunes folder that is already in my Seagate Backups folder to this new folder that I have just created. I then name that folder G:/itunes/itunes media.

    3. I then click "File" in the G drive and "add folder to library" to import the media from X:/itunes/itunes media.

    4. Next, I doubleclick Itunes. [What if, like before, the folder doesn't open? Do I redownload it again? Won't it still want my relative's account password, thus not letting me open it as my own, as I described in my initial post?]

    5. After clicking the Itunes icon, I then immediately hold down the shift key until Itunes asks me to choose or create a library. If Itunes opens normally, then I close it out and try again.

    6. When it asks to choose or create a library, I then browse to the folder that I just created (G:/itunes/itunes media and click to save it.


    A few notes of where I'm confused:


    A. Do I use the backward slash mark ("\") or the normal one I see, which I typed above ("/")?

    B. I don't see any folder named "media" within the  Itunes backup folder.[Note:  My entire actual music (the sound files that are the actual songs) is in a different folder, since I keep it on my external hard drive because it has around 250GB of music/audiobooks, way more than is able to fit on my normal hard drive.]

    C.Please see my concern in my initial post about Itunes wanting my relative's account info and password when I open it on this computer.


    Finally, thank you so very much for your time, patient, and assistance!

  • turingtest2 Level 9 (64,795 points)

    Hmm, I think we should start over...


    Here are the typical layouts for the iTunes folders:



    In the image above the red outline denotes the "media folder", that is the folder listed under Edit > Preferences > Advanced. In the standard layout where the "media folder" is inside the "library folder" the iTunes library has the advantage of being self-contained and portable. Since you've lost the "library folder" from your old computer you're going to have to start over so you might as well get organized properly.


    1. If the folder curently holding your media files is called G:\iTunes then rename it as G:\Media.

    2. The support doc How to open an alternate iTunes Library file or create a new one explains how to create a new iTunes library where you want it. In short click the icon to start iTunes and immediately press and hold down the shift key. Keep holding until asked to choose or create a library, click Create and browse to G:\, make sure the folder is going to be called iTunes and click save.

    3. Move the folder that actually holds the media inside the folder G:\iTunes\iTunes Media. We're going to let iTunes reorganize everything (unless you have a collection of .wav files in which case stop and tell me because they require a different approach).

    4. Use File > Add folder to library and select the folder G:\iTunes\iTunes Media. iTunes will search through the whole series of subfolders adding all media files into the library and reorganizing them into the correct artist & album folders.

    5. Again, for data security, you really ought to obtain a second external drive at some point and backup your library to it. Only having one copy, as you have found, leaves you vulnerable to failure. External drives are no less prone to it.


    A) Windows uses \ as a folder separator in path descriptions, Mac uses /.


    B) Do you have a backup of the iTunes folder that was on drive C:\ or are you simply referring to the location of your media as a "backup" when it really the only copy? If you have a backup copy of your "original" iTunes library you could move/copy that to G:\iTunes shift-start-iTunes to open it, and then I can offer tools or techniques for fixing the links that will be broken becuase the drive letter has changed.


    C) Use Store > Sign out and then Store > Sign in to sign into your iTunes account. You will also need to use Store > Authorize the computer to allow playback and transfer of any protected content. If your new library contains protected content from any other accounts then you will have to authorize the computer for those too.



  • dignityjec Level 1 (0 points)

    TT2, You are the man (or woman, since I don't know your gender)!  That worked. I have it all again, and can't express in words how apprecative I am, but, to understate it, thank you! Thank you! Thank you!!!

    I will be pulling the other external hard drive out of my desk drawer and backing it up on there too as soon as I finish reassigning some of the album artwork and organizational preferences today. {{Wiping sweat off brow}} Whew!


    I do, or did, have the Itunes folder from the C drive backed up, but I did not have the media files backed up, as there isn't enough room on my C drive to hold them, so I have been keeping all the audio (media) files on the 1 TB external hard drive without backup. Well, to be clear, I backed the media files up on my other 500 GB external hard drive many months ago, but do not have anything I've added backed up since then.

    To state it more precisely: Itunes folders were all on C drive, and backed up to the external hard drive, with the exception of the audio/media files, which were all kept solely on the external hard drive.


    I'll gladly manually adjust and re-playlist everything. That's no big deal.


    Your patience has been that of a saint, and I can't express my gratitude, but I'm going to ask you for one more point of advice: Should I leave the Itunes folder, as it is now, on the G (external hard) drive? I had it setup on the old computer so that all my Itunes folders, except media files (i.e., the audiofiles that are what I *really* don't want to lose), were on C drive simply because that's where Itunes always wants to go when the software updates. I kept the actual media files (about 250 GB's worth) *not* on the C drive, but rather on the external hd (now called the "G drive"), simply due to space available. Should I keep them together on the G drive from now on and direct Itunes to go there instead of the C drive when it updates?


    Again, I will back everything up on the other external hd I have in my desk after I finish organizing and fixing my organizational preferences. That was too close for comfort! You are my hero.

  • dignityjec Level 1 (0 points)

    BTW, TT2, I think that I might have been on this forum one other time, quite some time ago, and you might've helped me then, too. I say this because your handle, "TuringTest2," sounds familiar to me. So, I might owe you doubly. I have no idea how I can repay you, but if there is anything, just say the word.


    I also see you are in London, England, which makes me envious of you. I spent a semester abroad (I'm from the USA, if that isn't obvious or stated in my user info) in college studying at Imperial College London and it was the best six months of my life. London is my favorite city in the world and if I could afford to live there, I would. I have degrees in philosophy and religion, and it is probably obvious that I didn't take any actual technology courses while a student at ICL, LOL!

  • turingtest2 Level 9 (64,795 points)

    You're welcome.