Off-Topic: Moving an iTunes Library to a New Machine

ituneslogoI just got myself a new home PC, to replace my no longer very trusty five-year old Athlon-based PC. In the process, I realized I had to move my iTunes library from the old machine to the new. Reading on the web and the Apple support area made me somewhat skeptical as to the feasibility of this operation… would all my cover art, podcast subscriptions, playlists and ratings survive the move? There are many stories of failed moves and lost data out there… and moving from Windows XP to Vista 64-bit did not make the dread less.

In the end, it turned out it was really dead easy!

The steps are the following (please refer to this guide at iLounge for more background and details):

  • On the new machine, start iTunes and authorize it using user iTunes store account.
  • Make sure the folder you use as your iTunes library folder is within the Windows standard user data places, like the default location inside “Documents\Music” on XP and “C:\User\username\Music” on  Vista. It needs not be in your user’s hierarchy, I had mine in the shared hierarchy and that worked fine.
  • Consolidate your iTunes library, using the iTunes 8 File-Library-Consolidate Library option.
  • Copy everything in that iTunes library folder to the corresponding location on the new machine. In my case, this was the folder called “Shared Music” in the “Public” part of the file system.
  • The iTunes database is separate from the storage of files. On Vista, it was located in User\Username\Music\iTunes. This is easy to find, as it is created when iTunes is started. After locating it, simply replace the iTunes folder on the new machine with the one from the old machine (without iTunes running!).
  • Start iTunes on the new machine, and all your data and music should be there!

For me, this worked on the first try. The key thing that I had to do was the consolidation phase… there were some files outside of the managed iTunes folder that needed to be copied into it in order to make this work completely.

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