How do I safely move my iTunes library to a different HD?
September 8, 2009 7:50 AM   Subscribe

How do I safely move my iTunes library from one hard drive to another?

I've read numerous horror stories on here from people encountering all kinds of problems when moving iTunes libraries around, so would like to get advice on how to plan and execute it correctly!

I have about 50gb of files on my 110gb internal HD, which is pretty much out of free space.

I have a 500gb external HD (that I currently use mainly for backups of all my digital photos) that I would like to move the iTunes library to, then delete it from my internal HD to free up space for work on the internal drive, and have much more space for new music on the external drive.

This is on Windows XP SP3. iTunes version 8.1 (I think - not there at the moment, but I haven't installed the latest update that it asked me if I wanted...)

And yes, I have another backup (Mozy) in addition to the external drive.

So, how do I move that 50gb of files without confusing iTunes or risking losing anything?
posted by valleys to Computers & Internet (7 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: This may be slightly different on the Windows version, but the steps should be similar to how it's done on the Mac:
  1. In Preferences, under the Advanced menu, change your iTunes music folder location to the new drive
  2. Under the File menu, select Library and then Consolidate Library. This should move your library to the new location.

posted by nathan_teske at 8:00 AM on September 8, 2009

Even easier, and this is after many different attempts, as I keep moving hard drives.

Copy the files to the new harddrive, preserving the root folder location, for example, if they are on d:\mp3, move to e:\mp3

Swap the drive letters round.

If you can do that, itunes will work fine, i do it all the time. It also avoids the itunes reindexing which is terminally annoying.

Yes that might affect other applications that reference the old drive, but at home, that doesnt tend to be a common problem.

Quick note, and this is an itunes annoyance. If your external drive is not connected, unavailable or off, and you start up itunes, it will default back to the original c:\documents and settings\..\.. path in preferences. If you then add to the library (including the automatic podcast downloads) they'll go in there. You'll then reconnect your drive, and end up with files going into 2 locations which personally, makes me want to kill things.
posted by daveyt at 8:23 AM on September 8, 2009 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thanks nathan_teske and daveyt.

daveyt - by 'swap the drive letters around' do you mean make my existing (internal) C: drive (which has all my system files, windows etc) a different letter, and make the external drive C? Would this work given it's my main drive? Or do you just mean to switch the letters in iTunes preferences?

All the files are currently in the default "c:\documents and settings\..\.. " location. I guess I can just recreate that file structure on the external drive if needed. Guess I should also assign it a permanent drive letter as I do have a couple other drives that I occasionally use that could mess up the lettering if I had multiple on at the same time.

And thanks for the warning about what happens if the drive isn't on, which I could definitely see happening.....
posted by valleys at 9:55 AM on September 8, 2009

Best answer: Step by step instructions on how to move your library to an external drive (without losing any data) can be found here.
posted by mr_silver at 10:59 AM on September 8, 2009

Best answer: And thanks for the warning about what happens if the drive isn't on, which I could definitely see happening.....

I have a desktop shortcut to iTunes that links to another shortcut on my external drive. THAT shortcut links to the actual application. Sounds complicated, but just make a shortcut to iTunes and put it on your external drive. Then make a shortcut to the shortcut and put it on your desktop.

That way, when I click the icon on my desktop, it is always accessing my external drive. If there's a problem, I know about it before iTunes starts.
posted by grumblebee at 1:37 PM on September 8, 2009

daveyt points out one of my favorite features about iTunes' file management regime (revert to default location if user-specified location is unavailable) - I can keep podcasts on my laptop for use away from my external HD at home.

If you accidentally add files to the wrong drive, the "Consolidate Library" menu option will copy all of them to your preferred location. That is why nathan_teske's answer is the standard way to move your entire library from one drive to another.
posted by Fin Azvandi at 1:53 PM on September 8, 2009

Response by poster: mr_silver's Lifehacker link led me to Apple's official instructions (which, yeah, I should've found earlier...), which are essentially a longer version of what nathan_teske said. All seems good, thanks.

And thanks grumblebee for the shortcuts suggestion which I've also done.
posted by valleys at 7:48 AM on September 11, 2009

« Older I can handle the output.   |   Help my desk buddy not kill me. Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.