Back up and restore your iTunes library on your PC

Before you transfer or restore your iTunes media library on your PC, consolidate it and create a back up.

Here are some things to know

Your iTunes library, a database that's made up of all of the music and other media that you add to iTunes for Windows, is organized into two iTunes library files and an iTunes Media folder.

Before you back up your media:

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If you have a Mac

In macOS Catalina or later, your previous iTunes media library is now available in the Apple Music app, Apple TV app, Apple Podcasts app, and Apple Books app. And when you back up your Mac, your media library is automatically included in that backup. When you set up a new Mac, you can also restore your Mac from a backup.

Consolidate your iTunes library

  1. Open iTunes.
  2. From the menu bar at the top of your computer screen or at the top of the iTunes window, choose  File > Library > Organize Library.
  3. Select Consolidate files.
    Organize Library screen showing Consolidate files selected
  4. Click OK.

When you consolidate, copies of any files that were outside of your iTunes Media folder are added to your iTunes Media folder. To save space on your hard drive, you might want to delete the original files after you make sure that the copies are in your iTunes Media Folder.

Find the iTunes Media folder

By default, your iTunes Media folder is in your iTunes folder. To find it, go to User > Music > iTunes > iTunes Media.

If you don't see your iTunes Media folder in the above location, here's how to find it:

  1. Open iTunes.
  2. From the menu bar at the top of the iTunes window, choose Edit > Preferences.
  3. Click the Advanced tab.
    Advanced Preferences screen showing iTunes Media folder location
  4. Look in the box under "iTunes Media folder location" for the location of your iTunes Media folder.

Back up your library and media files

After you consolidate your media files, you can back up your library and media files to an external drive.

  1. Quit iTunes.
  2. Find your iTunes folder.
    iTunes folder showing Music and iTunes selected
  3. Right-click on your iTunes folder, then choose Copy.
  4. Go to your external hard drive, then right-click and choose Paste.

Restore your library from a backup

You can restore your iTunes library from your external drive to your computer. If you're restoring an iTunes Library from a different computer, make sure that your new computer has the latest version of iTunes.

  1. Quit iTunes.
  2. Go to "This PC," then click your external drive.
  3. Select your iTunes folder, then right-click and choose Copy.
  4. Go to the location on your computer where you want your iTunes library, then right-click and choose Paste.
  5. Hold down the Shift key while opening iTunes.
  6. When you see a message that asks you to Choose iTunes Library, click Choose Library.
    iTunes message showing Choose Library selected
  7. Choose the location where you copied your iTunes folder.
  8. Choose the iTunes Library.itl file inside. 
  9. Click Open.

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