Transferring iTunes to external hard drive

Fellow Forum members,

I wonder if someone can advise me (in as basic terms as possible!) how to transfer all the songs in the iTunes folder on my laptop (running Windows XP) to the external hard drive I have just connected. I am concerned that I might lose all the songs that I have downloaded onto my ipod when I next connect it. Do I have to change any settings to make sure the ipod syncs with the external hard drive rather than the laptop? After this will any CD's I put into the laptop automatically download into iTunes on the hard drive?

The idea of all this is to free up space on my laptop so it would be a case of completely transferring the data rather than copying it.

I hope my questions make sense. I'm probably just being over-cautious but it has taken me ages to download the 20GB worth of songs already and I don't want to start all over again.

Thanks in advance,

Original Post

Under preferences you can set the root directory for all your music. You can also add other drives to the library. Alternatively you can copy the files to the remote HD and then set iTunes to that drive.

I believe you can get iTunes to consolidate the libraries.


Probably the quickest way is thus:

Navigate to the itunes folder, on PC this is in the 'my documents' folder.

Open it, in there is a folder called music. Copy this folder to your external drive.

Once its copied goto the itunes preferences then advanced. Here you can choose where the music folder is located. Click browse and select the music folder on your external harddrive and then OK.

iTunes should update. If it does not drag the music folder on your external drive to the itunes windo and it will update.

Once its all updated and waiting to play you can safely delete the music folder on your laptop.
I followed Gary's instructions yesterday without too much difficulty and all seemed to be well - although I did have to drag the 'Music' folder into the 'Library' window to update it. I added a few more CD's to iTunes and then downloaded them to my ipod without any hitches.

This morning I re-connected the external hard drive so that I could access iTunes again. When I open the iTunes folder there are 4 sub-folders/files, namely "Album Artwork", "iTunes Music", "iTunes Library" and "iTunes Music Library". The "iTunes Library" file is the one that I opened up yesterday (to add more CD's) and gives me access to all my stored songs, preferences, controls etc but when I opened it up today it was empty! However, all my music is still in the "iTunes Music" folder which I then had to drag and drop into "iTunes Library" window to 'download' it again. Have I done something wrong or missed something out? Is there a setting I can change so that everything stays in the "iTunes Library" folder?

Thanks in anticipation,

Mark that is most odd. Insure that in the preferences under advanced where it shows you the location of your music folder that you have your external drives music folder selected.

If its currently not selected drag the actual music folder back onto the window and this should be the last time.

What you should land up with is in the itunes folder there should be a folder called music but there should be nothing in it.

Any new additions should be copied over to your external harddrive. If your hope is to start a new library whilst retaining the old, I am afraid it dosn't work like that, one library and thats your lot.

The location of my music folder in preferences is E:\iTunes\iTunes Music - when I changed it to this it didn't give me the option of choosing "iTunes Library" (presumably because this is a file not a folder). Should I perhaps just choose the main "iTunes" folder rather than the "iTunes Music" sub-folder?

In the 'advanced' section should "Copy files to iTunes Music folder when adding to library" be ticked?

I have also noticed that even though I deleted the original iTunes folder from My Music in My Documents it has come back there!

One other strange thing (to me anyway) - the first time I sync'd the ipod to the new iTunes on the external hard drive it came up with a message saying something along the lines that the ipod could only recognise one iTunes - did I want to erase the old songs and download from the new itunes library? This seemed normal and that's what I did. However, when I connecetd the ipod again last night it came up with the same question again. It's as though it still sees the old iTunes folder and/or doesn't see the new one on the ext hard drive.

I just went back into My Documents\My Music and found the iTunes folder there again. I deleted it. I then went back to iTunes on the ext hard drive and found the "iTunes Library" empty. I had to drag the "iTunes Music" folder into the library window to put all the songs back in it. The music has remained in the "iTunes Music" folder as well (although, Gary, you say that this should be empty after doing this). A new "iTunes" folder has appeared in My Documents\My Music! I must be doing something wrong or need to change a setting somewhere? Is it anything to do with "Sharing" files??

I need to calrify with you, the only folder that should have been moved to the external harddrive is the itunes 'music' folder. If you goto into your itunes folder in my documents, in here is a folder called 'music'. its this folder the 'music' folder that needs to be moved to the external drive.

It sounds like you are trying to move the entire itunes folder

From the preferences and advanced you should select the 'music' folder from your external harddrive.

Eventually you will land up with a 'music' folder on your external harddrive and an itunes folder in your documents. In the itunes folder will be two files these are what iTunes uses to catalogue your music and also another music folder, which should remain empty.

As long as the advanced prefs is pointed at the folder on your external you should be fine, but for saftey drag the music folder onto the itunes windows once its in location.
Phew - finally sorted! Thanks Gary.

As I have been away for a few days I finally got round to following your advice last night. It looks as though my initial fault (as you suspected) was trying to copy the whole iTunes folder over to the external hard drive. Anyway, after a bout of copying and deleting files, dragging and dropping etc I reached the stage that you recommended in your last post. I then added some more cd's to iTunes and then sync'd my ipod - all is well.

Thanks very much for your time and patience in advising me - we got there in the end!

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