Q: I am running iTunes on my HP lappy, using an Airport Express connected to my old school home stereo, directing traffic with the Remote app on my iPhone 4. Now my music library is burgeoning and I need to move my iTunes library off my hard drive, mostly for performance reasons. I am considering the best hardware—as in very small and portable—so I can always have the library with the laptop. So far an SD card looks like my best option, followed by a hearty thumb drive. I am leery of doing this and would like some advice along the lines of “it’s OK it’ll work fine” or “don’t even think about it.” I want to keep all my music library hardware driven and not go into the heavens with it all. Can you point me in the best direction please? Note that I do regularly back up everything to back up hard drives, once a week at the minimum.

– J.A.

A: There’s no reason this shouldn’t work fine provided you can find an SD card or USB thumb drive larger enough to store your entire music library.

For all intents and purposes, an SD card or USB thumb drive is just another type of removable storage device, and iTunes neither knows nor cares about the difference between that an an actual external hard drive. As long as the storage is using a standard file system, it’s all the same as far as iTunes is concerned.

So moving your library to the SD card or thumb drive can be done in the same manner as with any other external hard drive. See our tutorial on Transferring your iTunes Library for more details on how to do this.

The key point to keep in mind is that your actual library content will only be available when the external storage device is actually connected to your computer, and ideally you will need to ensure you purchase an SD memory card or thumb drive large enough to store you entire library in one place. The alternative is to split your media content up between two or more memory cards, which is possible since each card will be assigned the same drive letter, but this can start to get complicated in terms of lining it all up so that iTunes can find it and will likely require some manual management of where your files are located on each card.


Jesse Hollington was a Senior Editor at iLounge. He's written about Apple technology for nearly a decade and had been covering the industry since the early days of iLounge. In his role at iLounge, he provided daily news coverage, wrote and edited features and reviews, and was responsible for the overall quality of the site's content.