Q: For many years I’ve had a number of XP machines in my house, one of which is used as a file server for the rest. All of the XP machines use the same My Documents folder on the server. I only installed iTunes on one machine and it wrote everything that it puts into My Documents on the server’s shared drive. I keep all of my music files on a USB drive attached to the iTunes machine. I completely lost that machine and I needed to rebuild it using Windows 7-64. When I replaced this machine in the past, I connected the USB drive and told XP to use the shared My Documents directory. I found that iTunes reinstalled successfully and I still had all of my music, cover art, iPods and playlists.
Now, I’m having a problem with Win7; it won’t let me choose the shared folder as its Documents folder. I am looking for guidance on how to reinstall iTunes and not loose setups that took years to put together. Possibly I could temporarily install iTunes on one of my other machines and have a chance to export some type of config file that could be used when I install on the Win7 machine. As far as I know, when installing you can point to a folder with the music files, but you can’t avoid using the My Documents folder. I would greatly appreciate any suggestions on how to go about this. Thank you.
A: The first piece of good news here is that you can uninstall and reinstall iTunes as often as you like without actually affecting any of your iTunes database files or media content. Removing iTunes using the standard uninstallation tools simply removes the application—all of your data is left intact. Similarly, reinstalling iTunes will only create a new iTunes database if one is not already present on your computer.
However, from the description of the problem you’re having, it sounds like you don’t even need to go this far. While iTunes wants to store it’s library database under your Windows XP “My Documents” folder by default, this is by no means your only option. You can easily tell iTunes to open a library database from any location you like—even a network location—simply by holding down the SHIFT key when starting iTunes.
Instead of starting iTunes right away, this will display a dialog box providing you with the opportunity to either create a new library database or choose an existing one in another location. Simply click the “Choose Library” button and a standard Windows file selection dialog will appear where you should then be able to select the shared “My Documents” folder.
Once you’ve selected a new library database location, iTunes will continue to use this as your default database until you change it again using the above method. Note that this will not affect the location of your iTunes Media folder; the location used in your iTunes Advanced preferences controls this separately regardless of where the actual library database is stored. See Transferring your iTunes Library for more information.