How to Transfer Music to an External Hard Drive

By Lorraine J. Floyd

Updated September 22, 2017

Your external drive most likely will have a cord and plug for a USB port.
i USB plug image by Christopher Meder from

Your expansive music collection may be taking up a lot of space in your computer, leaving you little room to download your favorite TV episodes or install games such as World of Warcraft. You may also worry about losing all of the songs you legally purchased from Amazon or iTunes. Regardless of your situation, there is a simple solution. Purchase an external hard drive and transfer your music to create a backup for your files and free up some space on your hard drive.

To facilitate the process of transferring music, transfer all of your songs to one folder of your computer. This process may take a few hours, depending on the number and size of the files you need to move. You may have casually saved some MP3 files in random folders, intending to organize your music later. If it isn't organized, do it now.

After you've transferred your music to one folder, right-click on the folder and select properties. Remember the size of the folder. If you have bad memory, write the number down on a piece of paper. You will need to know the approximate size of your music folder to purchase an external drive.

Go to a store specializing in computer parts and look for an external drive. Even stores such as Walmart or Target have drives, but they usually hold smaller volumes of files. If you have quite a large music collection, you'll probably need an external drive larger than the palm of your hand.

If you don't have the size of your music collection, you can also guess the size using your MP3 player. Most MP3 players have the capacity on the back of the player. It will say 4GB, 8GB, 16GB or more.

If you are careful using your external drive, almost any drive with enough storage capacity will be sufficient for the purpose of storing music. However, if you are still unsure, you can research different drives and read reviews on the Internet.

Your external drive should include a cord, which will plug into a USB port. If possible, do not disconnect the cord from the drive. It is very easy to lose the cord in a mass of your other equipment, so keeping the cord and drive connected constantly will help.

Plug the cord into an empty USB port. Some external drives have programs that pop up as soon as the device is plugged in. However, others will simply appear as a “removable” drive when you click "Start" and select "Computer."

Open the drive's folder in one window and open your music folder in another window.

Select all your music that you wish to transfer or simply select the music folder. Right-click on the selected files. You have the choice of clicking “cut” or “copy.”

If you select “cut,” the files will not be on your computer once you paste them to the external drive. Do not select this option if you are simply using the external drive as a backup.

If you want to simply remove the files from your computer, you can select “cut.” Otherwise, click on “copy.”

Right-click and select “paste” in your external drive folder. The music should take a few minutes to transfer.

If you do not disconnect the external drive correctly, you may lose all of your files. Look on the system tray located on the bottom right corner of your screen. If you hold your mouse over the icons, one should say “Safely Remove Hardware.” Double-click on the icon and disconnect your external drive. Pull out the USB cord once you receive the message that you can disconnect the drive.