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Archived - iPod 101: Backing Up Your Library

This article has been archived and is no longer updated by Apple.

Now that you've mastered moving all your favorite flicks, tunes, and games into the iTunes Library, and syncing them to your iPod, thoughtful users may wonder if you can safeguard all that effort with a backup. Of course! iTunes 7 makes it a breeze to backup all your media, including music, movies, videos, and even your playlists to disc! iTunes 7 even does incremental backups to minimize disc usage. All you need is iTunes 7 and a SuperDrive or a compatible DVD burner. iTunes 7 will even make the inserts for your backup disc’s jewel cases.

You can also use your iPod to move your iTunes purchases, or even your entire library, from one computer to another and enjoy your media at home, at work, or wherever!

Here’s how to move forward on backing up:

Backing Up Your iTunes Library

First make sure you have some blank CDs or DVDs ready to go, then do the following:

  1. From the iTunes File menu, choose Backup to Disc.
  2. From the iTunes Backup dialog box, choose one of the following:
    • Back up entire iTunes library and playlists (to backup everything)
    • Back up only iTunes Store purchases (to backup only your purchases)

  3. If you have previously backed up your library, and only want to backup the changes, check Only back up items added or changed since last backup.
  4. Click Back Up and wait for the DVD drawer to open.
  5. Add a disc each time iTunes asks for one. If your library won’t fit on a single disc, iTunes will ask—one at a time—for as many discs as needed, and write your library to them.

Printing Labels for your Backup Discs

Like to stay organized? Once your library is backed up you can print inserts for the jewel cases, just use the following instructions.

  1. Insert a finished backup disc in your disc drive.
  2. When the restore dialog appears, click Cancel.
  3. When the disc appears in the Source pane, select it under DEVICES.
  4. From the iTunes File menu, select Print.
  5. In the resulting dialog box, select one of the Print radio buttons.
  6. Select a Theme for the chosen print setting. The text box under the Theme menu explains what each theme option offers.
  7. Click Print and the printer fires up.

Restoring your iTunes Library from a Backup Disc

If disaster strikes and you lose your library, or you just want to restore media you’ve deleted, getting your tunes or videos back couldn’t be easier. Just grab your backup discs and do this:

  1. Insert the first backup disc into your disc drive.
  2. In the dialog that appears, click Restore and iTunes copies all content from your backup disc to your iTunes library. If you want to replace duplicate files already in your library with content from the backup disc, select Overwrite existing files before clicking Restore, otherwise you’ll end up with two copies.
  3. Sit back and relax while iTunes restores your media.

Moving On

So what happens if you get a new computer—maybe a new Mac, lucky you—and you decide to move your iTunes library to the new computer? No problem, if you’ve created backup discs, just insert them into the new computer and follow the restore instructions above. Optionally, you can use your iPod to transfer just your iTunes Store purchases to the new computer, or even use your iPod as a hard drive to move your entire iTunes library to the new computer.

Using an iPod to Transfer Purchases Between iTunes Libraries

If you just want to move your iTunes Store purchases to a new computer, do the following:

  1. Authorize your new computer to play your purchases by choosing Authorize computer… from the iTunes Store menu.
  2. Plug your iPod into the new computer.
  3. When your iPod appears in the iTunes Source pane under DEVICES, select it.
  4. From the iTunes File menu select Transfer purchases from iPod.

Make sure your new computer is authorized to play the newly transferred purchases by using Authorize computer… from the iTunes Store menu.

Using your iPod to Move your iTunes Library

While Transfer purchases from iPod lets you use your iPod to move your purchases from one computer to another, you can’t transfer songs from other sources that way. You can however use your iPod to transfer those songs by using your iPod as a hard drive. If your iPod is nearly full of tunes, you may need to remove some—or all—to temporarily make room for your iTunes library.

For the complete low-down on using your iPod as a hard drive to move your iTunes library, go here.

For other options to transfer your iTunes library between Macs go here, or go here for Windows.

And, if you’ve just run out of space on your iTunes library hard drive and want to move the library to another drive on the same computer with more space, go here.

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Last Modified: Feb 18, 2012
  • Last Modified: Feb 18, 2012
  • Article: TA38534
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