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One time it duplicated every file in my library! For no reason!
July 26, 2011 3:58 PM   Subscribe

I have a computer with way too much music on it, and I have an external hard drive. Can I store all my music on the external hard drive without making iTunes angry? Please explain as if I am twelve.

The computer on my laptop's hard drive is like 75 GB; the one on my external is 232 GB. My computer is almost totally full, and probably almost half of the reason is that I have a shitton of music on my computer.

What I would LIKE to do is to put all of my music on my external and delete it from my actual computer. For music I download, I would have a folder on my computer and periodically migrate it to my external. This sounds very straighforward, but is it?

I'm worried that iTunes will flip out on me over it. Every time I've ever tried to move my music around, iTunes gets angry and confused. Frankly, I don't understand why. (Which is why I currently have like three different folders of music in different places on my computer, all of which I am absolutely terrified to move, lest iTunes never find it again. Can you tell I have NO IDEA how any of this works?) What will happen, for example, when I disconnect the external and then re-connect it? Will iTunes still remember where everything is?

Please help me. Pretend I'm an Amish child with only the most basic working knowledge of how these magic info-boxes work. Thanks.
posted by showbiz_liz to Technology (14 answers total) 37 users marked this as a favorite
 
Apple has instructions that are pretty straightforward.
posted by kindall at 4:03 PM on July 26, 2011


I have iTunes on my XP machine. I have all my music on an external hard drive.

Just go into iTunes and add a folder to the library. Also, make sure you don't have iTunes organize your music for you.
posted by theichibun at 4:05 PM on July 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


This is fairly easy to do. I've done it a couple times. First with and external drive, then with a network drive.
Basically, you need to move the music files over the external HDD, delete the files on the internal HDD, and then tell iTunes where to find the music files.

The link that kindall posted has pretty instructions.
posted by nickthetourist at 4:07 PM on July 26, 2011


If you have a Windows machine, the link kindall provides is helpful. On a Mac, copy your Music folder (User/Music/) to the external drive. Delete (or rename) the original. Highlight the Music folder on your external drive and hit ⌘-L to make a new alias which the OS will name "Music alias". Drag "Music alias" to your user directory. Rename "Music alias" to "Music". (Without the quotes.) Start iTunes. Warning: iTunes will not function if your external drive is not connected.
posted by Hylas at 4:25 PM on July 26, 2011 [2 favorites]


There's also a Mac version of the Apple instructions, just BTW.

The key is to use iTunes to do all the moving and copying, not Explorer/Finder. That way it knows everything's new location.
posted by kindall at 4:55 PM on July 26, 2011 [3 favorites]


I do this. Go into Advanced and set the external hard drive as your music library's folder.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 5:18 PM on July 26, 2011


What will happen, for example, when I disconnect the external and then re-connect it? Will iTunes still remember where everything is?

Nope. When you do that it'll default back to your Music folder. But when you plug your HD back in it'll be fine.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 5:19 PM on July 26, 2011


If you start iTunes when the external hard drive is not connected it will default to the internal drive (C:/documents/music etc...), so if you've already deleted your music from there you'll get little exclamations marks beside the songs when you try to play them cos iTunes can't find the file. When you subsequently plug the HD back in you may have to point iTunes to the external drive again in the advanced menu, but then everything will be back to normal.
posted by TwoWordReview at 5:46 PM on July 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


iTunes likes to be in charge of things. If you want to be in charge of things -- that is, put your music where you want it -- you have to tell iTunes that you're in charge. In the preferences, tell it to stop copying music to the iTunes library.

Now, play it safe and assume you'll make a mistake: COPY (not move) your music from your local drive to your external drive. You'll understand why in a moment.

Next up, open iTunes and delete all the music, because it's actually just references to the music, pointed at the local hard drive. When you do this, it will ask if you also want to delete the music files themselves, BUT YOU DO NOT. If you accidentally tell it to delete the files, you've already backed them up to the external drive, so you'll be okay.

Now, open your external hard drive folder and drag all your music into the iTunes window. Now iTunes will build new links to the files on the external drive. You're almost done!

Last step: verify the music can be played, then delete the music files from your local drive (if you didn't already accidentally do this before.)
posted by davejay at 5:57 PM on July 26, 2011 [2 favorites]


Oh, yeah, and what LiB said: "Go into Advanced and set the external hard drive as your music library's folder." Do this when you tell it to stop managing your music.
posted by davejay at 5:57 PM on July 26, 2011



If you start iTunes when the external hard drive is not connected it will default to the internal drive (C:/documents/music etc...), so if you've already deleted your music from there you'll get little exclamations marks beside the songs when you try to play them cos iTunes can't find the file.


Is there any way to get rid of all these duplicate, broken files?
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 6:35 PM on July 26, 2011


You're getting at least two or three conflicting answers here.

If you want all your music collected in one place on the external hard drive, the easiest solution is the official Apple solution linked in kindall's answer. iTunes will copy everything for you and even sort it into folders by artist and album. Once it's done, and you verify that everything works, you can delete any music remaining on your internal hard drive.

You can double-check whether iTunes is playing songs from the external drive or the internal by selecting a song and choosing File > Show in Explorer (Show in Finder on a Mac).
posted by designbot at 7:02 PM on July 26, 2011


If you start iTunes when the external hard drive is not connected it will default to the internal drive (C:/documents/music etc...), so if you've already deleted your music from there you'll get little exclamations marks beside the songs when you try to play them cos iTunes can't find the file.

Is there any way to get rid of all these duplicate, broken files?


In this scenario, all you'd have to do is plug the external drive in and maybe restart iTunes.
posted by designbot at 7:07 PM on July 26, 2011


I had this same problem last year. This might help.
posted by Rangeboy at 11:36 AM on July 27, 2011


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