Moving iTunes libraries between computers

Q: I have bought a new computer and plan to give my old computer to my brother-in-law who wants the disk space cleaned off. I want to transfer my library to my new computer and erase it from the old one. I have backed up my iTunes library using the iTunes “Back up to Disc” feature and have also copied my “My Music” folder directly to a folder on an external hard drive.

How should I go about transferring this information to the new computer? Can I “Restore” my library to the new computer from the backup disk? Should I just overwrite the “My Music” from the external drive onto the new computer? Do I have to worry about the new computer not seeing my iPod (“home” computer issues)? Should I set the iPod to sync manually before deleting the library off the old computer? Thanks!

– Alice

A: If you have a copy of your entire “My Music” folder on an external hard drive and all of your music is stored in the default location under the “My Music” folder (normally “My Music\iTunes\iTunes Music”), then the simplest method is to just copy the entire “iTunes” sub-folder structure right back to the corresponding location on the new computer. If you’ve already run iTunes on the new computer, it will have created this folder structure with an empty library, but you can safely overwrite this unless you’ve already manually imported new music into it.

In this case, since you are restoring the entire library exactly “as-is” with the same database and related files, the version of iTunes on the new computer should basically pick up everything as it was on the old computer, including your playlists, ratings, play counts and your iPod sync settings.

iTunes stores information on any associated iPods within the library database itself, so it will simply recognize your iPod normally on the new computer without any reconfiguration required.

The only settings that are not stored in your iTunes library database are most of your iTunes preference settings. You can dig up your iTunes preference files and copy them over separately if you really want to (they’ll be hidden down under your home folder’s “Local Settings\Application Data” on the older computer), but it’s generally far simpler to just pull up your iTunes preferences window and quickly go through them again for any settings that you’re concerned about.