How to Restore ITunes From Backup on an External Hard Drive

Prevent Data Loss by Restoring ITunes From an External Hard Drive Backup

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If you had the foresight to back up your iTunes library on an external hard drive, life is good for you when you have a hard drive failure or need to transfer your iTunes library to a new computer. Restoring your iTunes library from an external drive backup prevents data loss or makes moving the library to a new computer a simple process. Here's how to do it.

  1. Quit iTunes on the computer where you plan to restore the iTunes library.
  1. Attach the external hard drive that contains the iTunes backup. Double-click on the external hard drive icon to open it. You'll find it on your desktop or in the Finder on a Mac or in My Computer in Windows.
  2. Navigate through the hard drive to find the iTunes folder you backed up to it.
  3. Drag the iTunes folder from the external hard drive to its location on your computer. The default location is the best place to put it.

    On Windows, the default is in your My Music folder, which you can reach through the My Documents folder or—on Windows Vista and Windows 7—by double-clicking on your hard drive.

    On a Mac, the default is in your Music folder, accessible through the sidebar of the Finder window or by clicking on your hard drive, selecting Users and clicking on your username.

  4. If there's already an iTunes library in this location, you'll be asked whether you want the new one to replace it. This will delete the old one, so make sure that the one you're restoring from backup has all the latest content in it. If it doesn't, drag the folder to a different location.

  1. While holding down the Option key on a Mac, or the Shift key on Windows, launch iTunes.
  2. When you do this, a window pops up asking you to Quit, Create Library or Choose Library. Click Choose Library.
  3. Locate the iTunes folder on a Mac or .itl file on Windows that you just restored from backup. Click Choose on a Mac or Open on Windows and select the iTunes Library.itl file inside.
  1. ITunes launches, using the new library you just restored from backup.

If you have an older iTunes library that you didn't delete in step 5, you may want to delete it so it doesn't take up extra disk space. Before you do that, make sure that the new library has all the contents of the old one, so you don't accidentally delete something you want.