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How to Make Your Music Library Truly Portable – Part 2: Moving your iTunes Library to your new portable HD

You have bough your spanking new portable hard drive. If you did not read part 1 on what to buy, click here and catch up. Now its time to move your music library. If you organize your own files and folders, its easy, just move your music library folder to the root of the new drive, point iTunes to the new drive, and you are done. But, i highly suggest that you let iTunes manage your music this is definitely the best way to have your music organized (I switched to this way about 2.5 years ago and will NEVER go back to organizing my files myself). If you are using iTunes to organize your music library (suggested), this its only a bit more complicated, but in the end, much better.

But before you do any of that, there are a couple of set-up steps you should take with the new drive for maximum compatibility across multiple operating systems.

Click through to continue reading... Also look for Part 1: Buying the Portable Hard Drive, 3: Moving your Serato Files to the new portable, and 4: Plug and Play (literally).

Part 2: Moving your iTunes Library to your new portable HD:

Transfer iTunes to your HD

Ok, strap in cause here we go! Plug in your new drive into your computer and we can begin.

WAIT!!! Before you begin, back up all your data on a different hard drive!!! This is crucial, and you should do this often so not to lose any data.





Mac Disk Utility

Step 1: Reformat to FAT
Be sure your hard drive is formatted correctly. It needs to be formatted as "FAT". This will allow your hard drive to be read to and written to from Windows, or Mac, or whatever OS with no problems. Do this BEFORE putting any info on your drive!

For a Mac, its easy. Go into "Disk Utility" from your applications folder. Once the program is up, select your new drive on the left. Then and click on "Erase" and select "MS-DOS (FAT)" from the Volume Format menu. Click "Erase" and you are done. It might take a few minutes, but its usually pretty quick. For Windows, its a bit more complicated, and I am not going to get into it. I would recommend asking to use your friend's mac, haha. Click here to read how to re-format your drive for Windows.


Step 2: tell iTunes what to do

iTunes prefs

First, on your new portable drive, create a "Music" folder on the root. Inside that, create and "iTunes" folder. These will just sit for now.

Open iTunes and update it to the current version.

Then, open the Preferences (File > Preferences). Click on the Advanced tab. Make sure the check boxes are checked for "Keep iTunes Music folder organized" and "Copy files to iTunes Music folder when adding to library". Then click OK. iTunes will now copy all your music into your iTunes Library on your local machine and re-organise your music. Your playlists will still work (if any file was moved, iTunes will now point to the new folder, so you should never get the "!" lost file icon again).

At this point, I suggest to back up your playlists. Go to File > Library > Export Library. Then save it to your desktop (or anywhere that is easy to remember), and name it with today's date. I recommend doing this from time to time anyhow.

Now that that is done, open the Preferences and "Advanced" tab again. Click on "Change" to change the location of your iTunes library. Point this to the new "iTunes" folder you created on your new drive (Music > iTunes) and click OK. We are almost there.

Step 3: Copy your iTunes folder to the new drive
Go to the file menu again and choose File > Library > Organize Library

Organize Library

Select both checkboxes, this will make your library up to date with the latest organization from Apple. And hit OK.

This will then copy all your iTunes media to your new drive. This could take hours to complete. It took me about 4 hours to finish, if I remember correctly. Do not disconnect the drive or interrupt this process.

This copies your music to the new drive, leaving all the music on your computer untouched. When its finished making the copy, all your iTunes music will now point to the new drive. Lets check to make sure:

Get Info to Locate Your File

In iTunes, click on any song, the get info. Click on FIle > Get Info. In the "Summary" tab and look at the bottom. You should now see the file is located on your new portable drive. If so, then you are done! Good Job!

An important to note:
Whenever adding new music, you must have your portable drive plugged in. This is because whenever it is not plugged in, iTunes defaults to your old iTunes folder on your computer's internal hard drive. Thus defeating the purpose.  So, keep that portable close when you are managing your music! (Otherwise, you will get missing files when you try to play out.)

Thats it for this lesson. Next up is Part 3: Moving your Serato Files to the new portable. And stick around for Part 4: Plug and Play (literally). And you can check out the previous article Part 1: Buying the Portable Hard Drives.