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Archived - Use a Smart Playlist to make regular backups of your music in iTunes

This article has been archived and is no longer updated by Apple.

You can use a Smart Playlist in iTunes to make regular, incremental backups of your music, videos, and spoken word media (audio books).

If you have an optical drive that can burn a CD or DVD, you can make regular backups of your iTunes library including music, audiobooks, and movie files.

To make an initial backup of your library, follow the steps outlined in "How to back up your library in iTunes 5 or 6" or "iTunes 4: How to Back Up Music".

Once you have backed up all of your existing iTunes library, take note of the date and time you completed the backup and then continue with the following steps.

Create a playlist of content you've added since your last backup

  1. Open iTunes.
  2. From the File menu, choose New Smart Playlist.
  3. Configure the Smart Playlist so that it includes all content with a Date Added that is after the date of your last backup.

  4. Click OK.
  5. Name the Smart Playlist something like "Backup Playlist".

Burn a backup disc of all the files you have added since your last backup

  1. Open iTunes.
  2. Open iTunes Preferences.
    • Mac OS X: From the iTunes menu, choose Preferences.
    • Windows: From the Edit menu, choose Preferences.
  3. Click Advanced (iTunes 5 or later).
  4. Click Burning.
  5. Click Data CD or DVD.
  6. Click OK.
  7. Select Backup Playlist in the Source list.
  8. Click Burn Disc.
  9. Insert a blank disc. If you have added more files since your last backup than can fit on one disc, iTunes can burn them onto two or more discs.
  10. When iTunes finishes burning the disc, eject it and write the current date on it.

Next time you do a backup

  1. Open iTunes.
  2. Select the "Backup Playlist" in the Source list.
  3. From the Edit menu, choose Edit Smart Playlist.
  4. Change the date to the date you wrote on your last backup disc and repeat steps 1 through 10 above.

Only want to backup purchased files?

If you only want to backup content you purchased from the iTunes Store, you can configure the Smart Playlist to only look at the Purchased Content playlist as shown here:

Then follow the burn a backup steps above.

Restoring files from backup:

To add music files back into your iTunes library from your backup discs:
  1. Insert the disc into your computer. The disc shows up in iTunes.
  2. Click the disc in the Source list.
  3. Click the Browse button in the upper right to make browsing the disc easier.
  4. Locate the songs, albums, artists, videos, audiobooks, or entire genres you are missing.
  5. Drag the missing files to Library in the Source list.

Last Modified: Feb 18, 2012
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  • Last Modified: Feb 18, 2012
  • Article: TA47742
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