Moving iTunes to a new computer

Q: My old computer has iTunes 9 with a combination of songs and movies purchased from the iTUnes Store and songs I loaded from my own CDs. I recently purchased a new laptop and I want to de-authorize the old laptop but want to transfer all movies and songs to the new one. I tried using my iPod touch to transfer my content, but only music and movies that were purchased from the iTunes Store were transferred to the new laptop. The songs I imported from my CDs did not transfer but remained on the iPod touch. Both computers are named the same, both are using Windows XP and the default file locations for iTunes. I don’t want to have to re-add over 300 songs from CDs. Apple keeps tell me to burn backups, but the instructions aren’t clear. Any suggestions for how I can get my library transferred easily to the new laptop?

– Chris

A: The simplest and best way to transfer your iTunes library between computers is really just to copy your entire “iTunes” folder from your old computer onto the new one. You can use any of the normal file-transfer methods to accomplish this, including a network file-share between the two computers, an external hard drive or USB memory key, or by burning CDs or DVDs of the iTunes folder content itself.

If all of your iTunes content is stored in its default locations, simply copying the entire “iTunes” folder from under your “My Music” folder should include your iTunes library database and all of your content. As an added bonus, this will ensure that any playlists, ratings, play counts, and iPod sync settings are also copied, since this content is stored in the iTunes database itself.

Your can find more detailed instructions on how to do this in our tutorial on Transferring your iTunes Library.

Note that it is possible to use your iPod touch to transfer your library as well, but this is a more complicated process than simply copying over the entire iTunes folder to the new computer. Transferring data from your iPod back to your computer is best used only as a last resort when you have lost the data on your computer and it only resides on your iPod. As you’ve noticed, iTunes itself will only transfer back purchased content, however a number of third-party tools are available that can be used to transfer any other content on your iPod back to your computer. See our iPod 201 article, Copying Content from your iPod to your Computer for more information.

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