Upgrading windows computer and external hard drive iTunes library
Ask iLounge offers readers the opportunity to get answers to their iPod-, iPhone-, iPad-, iTunes-, or Apple TV-related questions from a member of the iLounge editorial team. We'll answer several questions here each week, and of course, you can always get help with more immediate concerns from the iLounge Discussion Forums. Submit your questions for consideration using our Ask iLounge Submit Form. We reserve the right to edit questions for grammar, spelling, and length.
Q: My iTunes library is on an external hard drive that was plugged into an older desktop computer running Windows XP. I just bought a new computer that runs Vista and downloaded iTunes. When I plugged in the external hard drive, I was able to see all the albums, but the playlists had vanished. Also, iTunes on the new Vista computer does not recognize my iPod and tries to synch out the entire library which I do not want. When I plug the HD back into the old desktop, everything is still intact. So my question would be how would I get the new version of iTunes to keep the old playlists, and to recognize that my iPod was synched using that library?
A: Although you may be storing all of your content on the external hard drive, the iTunes library database is still most likely located in your “iTunes” folder under “My Music” on your computer’s C: drive. It is this database that contains information such as playlists, ratings, play counts, and your iPod configuration information.
When you connect your external hard drive to the old computer, it of course reads the original iTunes library database for the information, and simply accesses the media from the external hard drive. On the new computer, a new and different iTunes library database is being used (created when you first started iTunes on that computer), which of course does not contain any information at all by default. Any content listed in that library database on the new computer is most likely a result of iTunes searching out and importing tracks from the external hard drive automatically, as it would do for any new library.
The correct solution here is to copy the iTunes library database over to the new computer. You can accomplish this simply by shutting down iTunes on both computers and then copying the entire “iTunes” folder and everything in it from the “My Music” folder on your old Windows XP computer to the corresponding “My Music” folder on your new Vista machine. You can safely overwrite any folder that is already on the Vista machine, as this simply contains the new library that was created when you first ran iTunes on that computer.
You will also want to ensure that the drive letter used by the external hard drive is the same on both computers, since your iTunes database will have a full path to each media file, including drive letter. While iTunes can sort this out for you if your music was properly organized by iTunes in the first place, it’s generally far simpler to ensure that the drive letters are the same. If your external hard drive is assigned a different drive letter on the new computer, you can change it by going into your Control Panel’s “Administrative Tools” section, choosing “Disk Management” and then right-clicking on the external hard drive and choosing “Assign Drive Letter.”
Once you have copied the iTunes library database over and have the external hard drive connected with the same drive letter that was used on the original computer, you should simply be able to restart iTunes and it will automatically pick up the new library database with all of your playlists and other information intact, and be able to locate the media content on the external hard drive.
More information on how iTunes stores its library database and content when using external hard drives can be found in our iPod 201 article, Managing your iTunes Library on an External Hard Drive.
- Will removing a credit card from Safari also remove it from Apple Pay?
- Can I mute Handoff calls coming into my Mac from my iPhone?
- How do I keep my iPhone calls from ringing on my Mac?
- Why doesn’t Traffic show up on my Today Notifications Screen?
- Why doesn’t my iPhone reconnect to Wi-Fi after I turn it on?
- Why can’t I see the iPad-style landscape view on my iPhone 6 Plus?
- Apple Music creative team discusses the service’s exclusives, future
- Apple raising UK App Store prices by more than 25 percent
- Iovine fuels speculation about Apple’s interest in scripted TV shows
- Report: ‘iPhone 8’ to include upgraded water resistance
- U.S. appeals court resurrects App Store antitrust lawsuit against Apple
- Apple increases maximum tvOS app size to 4GB
- Apple releases fourth iOS 10.2.1 beta
- Apple looking to produce original TV content for Apple Music subscribers
- FBI releases heavily redacted information about cracking iPhone
- Apple partners with Tresorit to offer encryption option to CareKit developers
- Revogi Smart Lightbulb, Smart Lightstrip, Smart Candle + Smart Meter Plug
- Audeze iSine10 In-Ear Headphones
- MOCACARE MOCACuff Connected Blood Pressure Monitor
- Apple AirPods
- Elgato Eve Motion
- Olloclip Core Lens Set for iPhone 7/7 Plus
- Logitech Pop Home Switch Starter Pack
- Elgato Eve Light Switch
- iHome iPLWBT5 Docking Clock Radio for iPhone and Apple Watch
- Brydge 12.9 iPad Pro Keyboard
- Top Five: The Best Products for Building a Smart Home with HomeKit
- Instant Expert: Secrets & Features of watchOS 3
- Instant Expert: Secrets & Features of tvOS 10
- Instant Expert: Secrets & Features of iOS 10
- Inside the betas: iOS 10 Photos gets Advanced Computer Vision
- Inside the betas: iOS 10 Music app delivers ‘clarity and simplicity’
- Inside the betas: iOS 10 Maps gets a major redesign
- Inside the betas: iOS 10 shakes up the user experience
- Inside the betas: watchOS 3 promises a real speed boost
- Inside the betas: A sneak peek at what’s new in tvOS 10