How Can I Copy My iTunes Library to a Portable Hard Drive?

By creating a copy of your iTunes library, you can protect the music and video collection stored on your iPod or iPhone if something should happen to the device, or to the computer hard drive on which your iTunes library is stored. If you store your iTunes library on a portable device, such as a flash drive or external hard drive, you can restore your iTunes library to any computer at any time.

Launch iTunes on your computer. To launch the program on a Windows system, double-click the desktop icon or go to “Start>All Programs>iTunes>iTunes.” On a Mac, click the iTunes icon in the taskbar.

Move all of the songs and videos that are part of your iTunes library into one folder on your computer’s hard drive. To move all the media into one folder, go to the “File” menu and select “Library>Organize Library.” Place a checkmark in the box next to “Consolidate files” and click “OK.” Any files that iTunes has used in the past are copied into the iTunes Media folder.

Plug the portable hard drive into the computer. Flash drives and external hard drives are generally plugged into a USB port on the computer.

Wait for the computer to recognise the hard drive. An “AutoPlay” box usually appears on the screen when a Windows computer recognises the drive. When “AutoPlay” appears, click the “Open folder to view files” option to open the drive window. If the “AutoPlay” box does not appear, go to “Start>Computer” and, when the external drive appears in the list of drives, double-click the drive to open the window.

On a Mac, an icon for the external drive appears on the desktop. Double-click the icon to open the drive window.

Navigate to the iTunes Media folder on your computer. On a windows system, go to “C:>Users,” double-click the name of the user and double-click the “My Music” folder. On a Mac, go to “Users,” click the name of the user and “Music.” The iTunes folder should be listed among the subfolders.

Left-click on the iTunes folder, hold down the mouse button and drag the mouse cursor from the “My Music” or “Music” folder window into the window of the external hard drive. Release the mouse button to drop the folder in the external hard drive window and the folder is copied to the hard drive.

Wait until all of the files have finished copying and the message about transferring files disappears from the screen. At this point, all files from the iTunes folder on the computer’s hard drive are now copied to the external drive.

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About the Author

Alexis Lawrence is a freelance writer, filmmaker and photographer with extensive experience in digital video, book publishing and graphic design. An avid traveler, Lawrence has visited at least 10 cities on each inhabitable continent. She has attended several universities and holds a Bachelor of Science in English.