I have an iTunes library on my WinXP PC. This library includes tons of music, some podcasts, and a few T.V. shows. What's the best way to back up the whole iTunes library?


  • All music, album art, podcasts and videos preserved and recoverable
  • All album art preserved and recoverable
  • All playlists preserved and recoverable
  • All settings, such as compilations and volume adjustments, preserved and recoverable
  • Catalog can be restored on Win and Mac iTunes installations

It would be awesome if there were a way to do incremental backups instead of having to do the whole process every few months.

  • I was going to mention support.apple.com/kb/TA47742?viewlocale=en_US for how to backup iTunes library, it even has a poor mans incremental backup, but supposedly some things don't come across in the official iTunes backup. Also, educ.umu.se/~cobian/cobianbackup.htm for a recommended backup software, but I have no idea how to set it up, and I think the iTunes Add To Library timestamps would be off. Apr 21, 2011 at 20:04
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    Using CrashPlan or some other smart software to incrementally back up the two folders needed is the only perfect solution for capturing everything iTunes stores - even going forward as new things get added. This has always worked. crashplan.com
    – bmike
    Apr 21, 2011 at 20:08
  • Also support.apple.com/kb/ht1751 to backup the entire library to an external, but again no incremental backup or iPhone backups Apr 21, 2011 at 20:29
  • Crashplan is a paid offsite storage like mozy though, correct? Apr 21, 2011 at 20:33
  • @hobs: CrashPlan is free if you want to use it to backup to another machine or drive on your home LAN. It only costs money if you want to also back up to their cloud storage.
    – Ian C.
    Apr 21, 2011 at 20:38

1 Answer 1


You simply need to backup the entire iTunes folder and optionally the alternate folder(s) where the media is stored.

To ensure your media is consolidated so you don't have to track more than two folders for backup, be sure to allow iTunes to consolidate and organize your music. Advanced Preference tab

The files stored are readable by both mac and windows so you can place them on the new machine, perhaps re-link the directory structure since a Mac won't know what to do with C:\My Documents\Music\Itunes\whatever but everything including the counts, downloaded apps, artwork and playlists will all transfer. You may need to find the folder where iTunes stores iOS device backups as that may be in a different location but that's easy to recreate by plugging your device into the new iTunes and finishing one backup.

It's still a good idea to export the library as XML to cover you for times when the iTunes database gets corrupt but this will work across all versions of iTunes in the past.

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    Mac: ~/Library/Application Support/MobileSync/Backup/ Windows XP: C:\Documents and Settings[username]\Application Data\Apple Computer\MobileSync\Backup\ Windows Vista & 7: C:\Users[username]\AppData\Roaming\Apple Computer\MobileSync\Backup\ for the iPhone backup files Apr 21, 2011 at 20:29
  • Hobs - you are awesome!
    – bmike
    Apr 21, 2011 at 20:47
  • I like it when we work together Apr 21, 2011 at 20:56

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