Tech Tip: Back Up Your iTunes Collection — or Your Whole Computer

Tech Tip: Back Up Your iTunes Collection — or Your Whole Computer

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Q. I know you can re-download albums and movies purchased from iTunes, but I have songs from other online stores, personal videos and home-ripped files in my collection as well. What is the easiest way to make a local backup of my entire set of iTunes libraries?

A. You can manually back up your iTunes content by dragging a copy of its folder to an external drive or server. Before you do, make sure everything in your library is inside your iTunes Media folder. Open iTunes, go to the File menu, choose Library and then Organize Library. Select the “Consolidate files” option and click the O.K. button when finished. (Depending on your library, you may also see a Consolidate files option directly on the Library sub-menu.)

Use the “Consolidate files” command to gather copies of all the files you play through iTunes and put them inside the main iTunes Media folder for transfer to a backup site.

Credit
The New York Times

When you have your external driver or server connected to the computer, open the Music folder within your Windows user folder, or the Music folder inside your Mac’s Home folder. Find the iTunes folder within and drag a copy of it to your backup destination. Repeat the steps whenever you want to make a fresh copy of the backup.

If you do not want the responsibility of remembering to manually save a copy of the folder, an automated backup system can easily preserve your iTunes library — as well the other files on your computer. Microsoft includes File Recovery software with Windows 10 (or Backup and Restore if the computer is running Windows 7), while Apple’s Mac operating system has come with the Time Machine program for backup since 2007.

For those who want more than the basic built-in backup software, third-party programs like Acronis True Image (for Windows and Mac, as well as Android and iOS) or Carbon Copy Cloner (for Mac) can grab a backup of the entire computer.

Along with software, you need a place to put those backed-up files, typically an external hard drive or network server. Some programs (like Acronis True Image) also back up your files to a cloud-storage server, but you can also just use an online backup service. The Wirecutter site (owned by The Times) recommends CrashPlan, but also has suggestions for external hard drives if you prefer to keep your backup plan on the ground.

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