Ways to Back Up Your Digital Music Library

Some of the best ways to safely back up your media files

If you currently store your digital music on your computer and haven't backed it up onto some kind of external storage, you run the risk of losing it. A large collection of digital music can be expensive to replace, especially if you use music services that don't store your purchases in the cloud or prevent you from re-downloading songs.

If you haven't decided on a backup solution for your digital music, or want to discover alternative storage options, here are some of the best ways to keep your media files safe.

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External USB Hard Drives

An external hard drive on a table.
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What We Like
  • Easy access to files without an internet connection.

  • Frees up space on your hard drive so it can perform faster.

What We Don't Like
  • Need a USB cable to access files.

  • More prone to physical damage than a PC.

It's a fact of life that your computer's hard drive will fail, and so backing up your digital music, audiobooks, videos, photos, and other important files is essential. Buying an external hard drive also means that you have a portable storage device that you can take almost anywhere—non-networked computers can also be backed up too.

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USB Flash Drives

A flash drive being plugged into a computer

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What We Like
  • Sturdy, durable, and difficult to damage.

  • Inexpensive.

What We Don't Like
  • Easy to lose.

  • Easy for others to steal.

Even though USB flash drives typically have smaller storage capacities than external hard drives, they still offer a robust solution for backing up your important media files. If you're looking for a budget solution to store and share your music files, then a USB flash drive is a good option.

Flash drives come in various storage capacities such as 1 GB, 2 GB, 4 GB, and larger, and can hold a reasonable amount of music files. For example, a 2 GB flash drive can store approximately 1000 songs (based on a song being 3 minutes long with a bit rate of 128 kbps).

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Cloud Storage Space

A phone uploading a file to the cloud.
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What We Like
  • Never worry about losing music.

  • Download music onto any device with an internet connection.

What We Don't Like
  • Putting your security into someone else's hands, so choose your provider carefully.

  • Can get expensive if you have a massive library of files.

For the ultimate in safety, you'd be hard-pressed to find a more secure location to back up your digital media library than the internet. Cloud storage offers a way to remotely store your important files using virtual space, rather than using physically connected local storage devices like hard drives, flash drives, and other removable media.

The amount of cloud storage that you can use typically depends on cost. Many file hosting services offer free space that can range from 1 GB to 50 GB or more. If you have a small collection, this could be all that you need. However, if you have a large media library, you'll probably need to upgrade by paying a monthly fee for extra storage (sometimes unlimited).

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CD and DVD

A DVD being placed into a player.
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What We Like
  • Files are safe from hackers.

  • Has a longer lifespan than USB drives if well taken care of.

What We Don't Like
  • Easy to break.

  • May be hard to find a CD player soon.

The CD and DVD is an aging format that has been in existence for quite some time. However, it is still a popular option for backing up different types of media (such as mp3s, audiobooks, podcasts, videos, and photos) and also non-media files (documents, software, and similar files). Popular software media players like Apple Music and Windows Media Player have the facility to burn CDs and DVDs.

The only downsides with storing files using this format are that discs can become scratched (and you'll need a CD/DVD repair kit) and that the materials used can degrade over time (so you'll need to protect your optical media with ECC).

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