Home > All, Errors, Hacks/Tricks, iTunes, Music, Technology > Missing iTunes Library Information [Part II – Back It Up!]

Missing iTunes Library Information [Part II – Back It Up!]

If you’ve read my previous entry concerning my iTunes Library losing a lot of information, and you’ve experienced the same problem, you know the frustration I’ve gone through. The purpose of this entry is to help others in preventing this problem in the future.

Since the cause of this error is unknown at this time, there isn’t really an effective way to prevent it. So, the most effective solution in preventing a loss of iTunes Library information is to actually back up your library files.

Now, iTunes doesn’t make this very easy to do. Or, at least, they don’t make it obvious how to do this. There is a list of files that needs to be backed up in order to preserve your information (ratings, play counts, etc.).

The first thing you’ll need is a backup program. I use Genie Backup Manager Pro 8.0. If you don’t have a program for backing up data, here is a site with free backup solutions you can download.

All you need to do is configure your backup software to back up the following files:

  • C:\Users\<user>\Music\iTunes\iTunes Library.itl
  • C:\Users\<user>\Music\iTunes\iTunes Library Extras.itdb
  • C:\Users\<user>\Music\iTunes\iTunes Library Genius.itdb
  • C:\Users\<user>\Music\iTunes\iTunes Music Library.xml
  • C:\Users\<user>\AppData\Roaming\Apple Computer\iTunes\iTunesPrefs.xml

These directory names are for Windows Vista users. And <user> is the name of the person whose account the iTunes Library is under.

Depending on your operating system, your “iTunes” library directory could be in a different location.

If you’re using Windows XP, the iTunes Library directory is found in:

  • C:\Documents and Settings\<user>\My Documents\My Music\iTunes

As a side note, there are also a couple other directories you might want to back up.

iTunes keeps an automatic backup of “Previous iTunes Libraries.”

  • C:\Users\<user>\Music\iTunes\Previous iTunes Libraries

It might be a good idea to back up all the libraries in that directory… just in case.

Also, in case you have an iPhone, iPod or iPod Touch, and you have applications downloaded and stored in iTunes. Here’s the directory for those applications.

  • C:\Users\<user>\Music\iTunes\Mobile Applications

Again, these directories are for Windows Vista. XP will be slightly different.

Make sure to frequently back these files up. Particularly when you add new music, change song ratings, or whatever other changes you make to your iTunes Library. And keep your backups in a separate location. Maybe a Flash Drive, CD, remote Internet backup service, etc. Never on the same drive that your iTunes Library is actually on.

One suggestion is to not set your backup software to make scheduled backups. This is because, like in the case that something like what happened to me happens to you, your software could accidentally back up an iTunes Library with missing information without you knowing it until the next time you load iTunes.

Always manually back up your library. Close out iTunes (wait for a second to see if you see a message saying “Saving iTunes Library…”), then open your backup software and back up your library.

And that’s it. I hope this helps.

Read a book. It’s good for you.

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