Q: I have just bought my first laptop and my first iPod. I also plan on buying a portable external hard drive to store my music. I have read several articles explaining how to move iTunes content to the hard drive. My question is how do I set up iTunes from the beginning so everything is on the external drive right away?
Also, some people have said that you cannot make certain types of
external hard drives the default setting in iTunes? Is that true? If so,
what hard drive should I buy?
A: To ensure that all of your music and other media content gets stored on the external drive right from the beginning, simply go into your iTunes preferences, select the “Advanced” tab and set your iTunes Music folder path to an appropriate folder on the external hard drive before actually importing any music. On the same screen, ensure that the “Copy files to iTunes Music folder when adding to library” option is also selected.
This will ensure that any new music you import into your iTunes library will be copied to the external hard drive and stored there, as well as any CDs that you import into iTunes or any content that you download from the iTunes Store.
Note that in this configuration, your iTunes library database will still be stored on your local hard drive, but this doesn’t normally occupy a great deal of space, so there is rarely any need to store it on an external drive unless you plan on using your external drive on more than one computer. If so, our iPod 201 article on Transferring your iTunes Library can provide you with more information on how to do this.
One additional cautionary note: Always ensure that you have your external hard drive connected and powered on before starting iTunes. If iTunes cannot find the external drive when it first starts up, it will temporarily revert back to using its default location on your internal hard drive instead, even if you connect the external hard drive later. This can usually be solved simply by shutting down iTunes, ensuring the external hard drive is connected and powered on, and then restarting iTunes.
With regards to external drive models, any external drive that is supported by your operating system will work find with iTunes, so there’s nothing to worry about in that regard.