Best way to archive my music?
January 16, 2008 12:55 PM   Subscribe

How can I archive my music?

I have approximately 15 GBs worth of music (with a few audiobooks) in iTunes on my work computer. I'm worried that if anything ever happens to my job that I'll have to re-rip/re-buy some of it if I don't find a good way of archiving it.

Fortunately, some of the tracks are from eMusic, so I'm not worried about them. For everything else (including and especially the stuff I purchased from the iTunes store), what's the best way to ensure that I'll have access to these files in the future? Should I burn a bunch of MP3 CDs/DVDs? Should I buy a small portable hard-drive? Should I get an MP3 player?

If I do go the MP3 player route, it has to be one that functions essentially as a hard-drive, and be cheap (say a used Creative Zen). I'm not really interested in anything iPod related.

A minor rub is that my work computer is a Mac and my home computer is an old PC, and will probably stay a PC (or linux) for many years to come.

So how should I hold onto my music?
posted by drezdn to Technology (17 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Ideally, I'm looking for the solution that involves the least amount of work, but will ensure that I will have access without regard to OS or equipment.
posted by drezdn at 12:56 PM on January 16, 2008

Get a USB hard drive, plug it in to the computer that has the music on it, copy the MP3 files to it. No need to overthink things.

(BTW, there is nothing special about "music", you can back up any important files this way.)
posted by xil at 1:00 PM on January 16, 2008

Will that work for the AAC files though?
posted by drezdn at 1:04 PM on January 16, 2008

Alternatively, go to Doug's applescripts for iTunes, and download one of the scripts for backing up the library. There's this one, for instance. Cheaper than a HD for just 15GB of music.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 1:05 PM on January 16, 2008

N.B.: Doug's site seems to be exceedingly sluggish today, but the scripts are good.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 1:07 PM on January 16, 2008

When I said "MP3 files", I guess I should have said "MP3 and AAC files and whatever else is in your music library". But sure, there is nothing special about any of them. Just copy everything from the Music / iTunes folder in your home directory.

You really do want to copy them to some kind of external storage though -- the most likely reason you'd need a backup would be because of a hard drive failure, so merely copying the files to the same hard drive wouldn't help.
posted by xil at 1:11 PM on January 16, 2008

Yes, it will work with the AAC files. When you copy them over to your home computer, you'll need to authorize that computer (using the "Authorize Computer" command from the Store menu) to play files purchased from that iTunes account. You can have up to five computers authorized to play files from the same account. (By the way, when you quit your job, you'll want to deauthorize your work computer before you go.)
posted by jjg at 1:12 PM on January 16, 2008

2nding the hard drive, but 15 gigs will fit on 4 dvds. It's more of a pain to do it that way though.
posted by sully75 at 1:13 PM on January 16, 2008

As long as we're making clarifications, my link was to an applescript that preps your library to be backed up to a DVD (assuming your mac has a DVD burner). Sorry for any confusion--I meant to put that in the post.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 1:14 PM on January 16, 2008

Just to be clear, there are "raw" AAC files and "protected" AAC files. Raw AAC files can be copied freely. Protected AAC files have a set of restrictions that are enforced by iTunes. For more info on how the protection works (and how to illegally remove the protection), you can read the wikipedia article.
posted by burnmp3s at 1:17 PM on January 16, 2008

And to clarify the clarification, protected AACs can be copied freely, they just can't be played freely.
posted by jjg at 1:29 PM on January 16, 2008

i find that the price AND quality combo at Other World Computing for large backup drives is pretty good. they also have very nice drive cases with quad-connections (usb, firewire 400/800 and eSATA)

note: i dont work for OWC, i also dont buy crap $60 HDs
posted by wackoacko at 1:52 PM on January 16, 2008

Upload it all to Amazon S3 using something like JungleDisk for $.15 per GB per month.
posted by nicwolff at 1:58 PM on January 16, 2008

Really, for 15G of stuff I'd just get 3 blank DVDs and call it a day.

As others said, you can copy those AAC files even if they've got DRM on them. You'll just have to authorize the new computer/device you attempt to play them on in the future. The PC/Mac distinction won't matter so long as you have iTunes installed.
posted by phearlez at 2:18 PM on January 16, 2008

I back up my entire computer on Mozy
posted by matty at 2:23 PM on January 16, 2008

Yeah. Burn to DVD-Rs (iTunes will burn your whole collection for you, if you want) or get a thumb drive. There's nothing magical about the music files.

The only caveat is your play counts, playlists, ratings and some other esoteric metadata. If you really care about keeping your Smooth Jams playlist, etc, intact, you'll also want to copy your "iTunes Library" file (located inside your Music folder) onto your backup medium as well. You can then import this into iTunes at home (if you run it at home; if not, I'm not sure if any other music-playing software will parse the iTunes Library file).
posted by adamrice at 2:35 PM on January 16, 2008

I would use an external hard drive. You can get 250GB ones for around $99, small ones for much, much less. They're probably the best cost-per-GB going, and it saves you a lot of trouble versus using DVD-Rs. (I started backing my music library up to DVD-Rs but gave up because it's just way too much disc swappage.)

Protected AAC files -- ones you purchased from the iTunes Music Store -- will copy just fine, like any other file. It's when you go to play them on the other computer (in iTunes, since nothing else will work) that you'll run into trouble. You'll need to "Authorize" the home computer with your iTunes ID and password in order to play them. You can authorize up to 5 computers on a single account at one time.
posted by Kadin2048 at 5:14 PM on January 16, 2008

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