Opening iTunes library from external hard drive

Q: I have been running iTunes successfully from an external drive for a couple of years. Last week my laptop crashed and I’ve had to get another which is an HP pavilion dv6. I’ve reloaded iTunes software from the website but cant get it to ‘point’ at the library on the external disc. I’ve got over 2000 songs many are copied from the original vinyl so I’m desperate.

– Vic

A: How to proceed depends on whether you are actually storing your library database on the external hard drive or only your media content.

The iTunes Media folder path found in your Advanced iTunes preferences simply specifies where your content is stored, not where the actual library database goes. The library database itself and other supporting files remain stored in the “Music” folder on your internal hard drive unless you’ve specifically taken other steps to manually copy them to another location and point iTunes to that location.

Opening iTunes library from external hard drive

If you have done this and your iTunes library is on the external drive, you should be able to point the new installation of iTunes at it simply by holding down the SHIFT key while starting iTunes. This will prompt you to either create a new iTunes library or choose an existing one from another location. Simply select the latter option and browse for the “iTunes Library.ITL” file on your external hard drive. See Transferring your iTunes Library for more information on this. Keep in mind that even if you didn’t copy your iTunes library database to the external hard drive, but have a copy of it from a backup of your old laptop, you should be able to use this just as easily.

If you didn’t move or backup your iTunes library database before your old laptop crashed, then you’re mostly out of luck in terms of recovering the database. In this case, you’ll simply have to start over with a new iTunes library and reimport all of your music from the external hard drive. Information such as name, artist, album and genre are stored within your music files, however you will lose iTunes specific information such as playlists, ratings and play counts. Note that you may be able to recover some of this information from your iPod. See our iPod 201 article, Copying Content from your iPod to your Computer for more information.


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