How Do I Move My iTunes Library When I Set Up a New Computer?

by Andrew Aarons

Buying a new computer is kind of like changing houses. You have to pack everything up from the old place and move it over to the new one. The digital equivalent requires the same organization and focus in order to occur smoothly. Moving your iTunes library from your old computer to your new one can be a big job, depending upon how much media you have.

Using an External Hard Drive

Consolidate your media files. If you've been disorganized with cataloging your MP3s and MP4s, you will need to organize everything. You can do this using My Computer, manually arranging your files, or you can use a handy iTunes feature. Open iTunes and click "Edit then Preferences," then click "Advanced." Select "Copy files to iTunes Media folder when adding to library" and click "Okay." All of the files that aren't in the library will be copied.

Click on "File > Library" then choose "Organize Library." Click the checkboxes beside "Consolidate Files" and "Upgrade to iTunes Media organization" if you are using iTunes 9 or newer. Click "Okay" and wait while all of your media files are copied to a single location.

Close iTunes and connect your external hard drive (make sure it is turned on). Open the "Computer" window and go to "\Users\username\My Music\." You may need to check the iTunes preference if this folder is empty. Chances are you set the music folder to a different location. Press "Ctrl" and "A" at the same time to select everything in this folder, then copy and paste it into a folder on your external hard drive.

Attach your external hard drive to your new computer and launch iTunes. Click "File" and "Add folder to library" then browse to the folder on your external drive where you just copied the media. ITunes will add all files to the library.

Back up to Disc

Open iTunes and click "File > Library" then "Back-up to Disc." There are three back-up options at this screen: back-up everything (library and playlists), back-up only iTunes Store purchases, and only back-up items changed since the last back-up. Click "Back-up entire iTunes library" and select the burn speed. Click "Next."

Insert a blank CD or DVD into your burner. ITunes detects the type of disc and determines how many of your selected media are required to perform the back-up. Make sure you have enough discs available, then click "Continue." ITunes ejects each disc after it completes burning. Label each disc as it comes out, in the case of multiple-disc back-ups.

Open iTunes on your new computer. Insert the first disc from the back up in step two. ITunes automatically recognizes the disc as a back-up. Click "Restore" and follow the on-screen prompts to change discs, if necessary. When the process finishes, your library has been transferred.

Items you will need

About the Author

Living in Canada, Andrew Aarons has been writing professionally since 2003. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in English literature from the University of Ottawa, where he served as a writer and editor for the university newspaper. Aarons is also a certified computer-support technician.