Using iTunes with an external hard drive


Q: I have all my iTunes music on my external drive. I travel a lot and when I returned home and reconnected my external drive, Autoplay came on and moved (or copied) all of my iTunes songs back to my C drive. If I look at Preferences/Advanced, my iTunes Music folder now shows up on my C drive. What now? I don’t want these on my C drive as they take up too much room with music, videos and movies.

– Barry

A: It’s most likely that the Windows Autoplay feature detected the media files on your drive and assumed that you wanted to import them to your computer in general, as opposed to importing them into iTunes in particular.

Further, the change to the iTunes Music folder path is not likely connected to the autoplay import, but rather simply a result of running iTunes while the external hard drive was disconnected. Normally, if you shut down iTunes and restart it after the hard drive is connected, the path should automatically switch back to the external hard drive location, but it does sometimes need to get changed back manually.

Normally with the autoplay import, the media files should have been copied rather than moved from the original location on the external drive. As long as you haven’t poked around too much in iTunes itself in trying to reset paths manually on individual tracks, you should be able to just set your “iTunes Music folder” path in your iTunes Advanced preferences back to its original location on your external drive and iTunes should go back to finding everything there.

Once you’ve confirmed that it’s set back to the original location and iTunes is working properly with the files in that location, you can clean off the copied files from your C: drive at your leisure, which will likely just be located right under your “My Music” folder in Windows. You should also of course disable the Autoplay feature to prevent this from happening in the future.

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Jesse Hollington

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.