Moving An iTunes Library

As mentioned previously, I had to move an iTunes library over to a new PC without wanting to re-install 90GB of music. Here’s a step-by-step guide for Windows on how to do it so you too can do it without screwing everything up…

This process assumes your music is stored on an external disk. I also recommend keeping a backup of all the files mentioned so you can revert back should something go wrong.

1. First of all, copy the iTunes folder (usually found in My Documents) from the old machine to the new one renaming it in the process to distinguish it as a backup. This is the folder that contains the library information and not the mp3 files, which are on that external disk.

2. Download, install, run and then close iTunes on the new PC. This creates a new iTunes folder (in My Documents) where it looks for the library information. Replace the files in this folder with the back up copies. The two important files are the itl and xml library files.

Here’s the tricky part, and DO NOT RESTART iTunes just yet!

3. Plug in the external drive with the music on it into the new PC and ensure the drive letter is the same as it was on the old PC. If it isn’t, use Disk Management to assign the correct drive letter. If you can’t do this then open up the library xml file in a decent text editor – I use Textpad – and change the file pathnames using a search and replace function to replace the old drive letter with the new one.

4. iTunes ignores the path information in the xml file unless the itl file becomes corrupted. You’re going to corrupt the file, so open the itl file in a decent text editor, delete everything inside it (it looks like gibberish) and then save it. You have now ‘corrupted’ the file, but you still have your xml file (and hopefully your itl backup).

5. Start iTunes and it will now import all your music including playlists using the information in the xml file. Depending on how much music you have this may take a while. I have approx 90GB of music and the process took about 15 minutes. Next it will import all the album artwork and ‘determine gapless playback information’. Overall it took approx 25 minutes to carry out this ‘import’.

6. It will then tell you that the itl file is corrupt, let it fix it.

7. Check that everything is now back in iTunes. I was missing some album artwork but selecting all albums and then right clicking to “Get Album Artwork” fixed the majority of them. The remaining ones I did manually (Amazon and are good places to copy album artwork from btw).

8. And that’s it. You may have to change some of the Preferences within iTunes to get it working the way you want to. The only other thing I had to do was to add in my podcasts.

If anything should go wrong you during this process you always have your back up to go back to.

NOTE: All my music is stored on an external drive and these instructions assume this. If you have your music stored on your PC then you may not have to carry out step 3 above. Although you will have to copy all your music over to your new PC which could take a while! If you have any questions then leave a comment below and I’ll reply.

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