How can I keep backing up my 'iTunes' folder without storing each and every song multiple times?


Up to today I've made a backup of my 'iTunes' folder about once a year. Each time I've simply copied the 'iTunes' folder to an external hard drive, ... which means that most songs/albums are stored multiple times on my backup hard drive (I have one hard drive dedicated only to backup my music). I always assumed that there must be a better way to backup my music files, but I just never got around to doing it.

I'm using a 2TB Western Digital portable hard drive with 'SmartWare' pre-installed, ... but I think WD charges £19.99 per year if I want to use it.

Isn't there an easier and less expensive option to do this?

Many thanks in advance,

H AAsked:
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JohnBusiness Consultant (Owner)Commented:
I would just delete old backups. Keep current and 1 back and delete the rest. A good recent backup is all you need. Delete the old ones and you are done.

I think your current method is fine.
VB ITSSpecialist ConsultantCommented:
How are you backing up your iTunes folder? Are you manually doing a copy/paste of the iTunes folder from your My Music folder?

If so, you can just avoid copying over the iTunes Media folder within the iTunes folder to your external drive, e.g. My Music\iTunes\iTunes Media
H AAuthor Commented:
Thanks John for your reply!
The problem with deleting old backups is, that I occasionally I 'loose' a couple of albums in iTunes and I don't notice it until I try to play the album (which can be much later). It's a mystery to me how I sometimes loose an album, but I do. The album still shows up in iTunes, but the minute I want to play it iTunes tells me that it can't locate the file.

I'm worried that I 'loose' lots of CDs, don't notice it for a year or two and delete the backup folder.

Any ideas?
JohnBusiness Consultant (Owner)Commented:
Please take a look at this Apple Support article for backing up Apple Media. It discusses deleting old backups.

Another thing I do for critical backups is to make 2 backups. More space, I know.

You can use Beyond Compare (Scooter Software) to determine if a backed up folder is the same as the original. Beyond Compare is not free but it is a very low price application.
H AAuthor Commented:
Thanks for your reply VB TIS!

Yes, I manually copy/paste the iTunes folder (from the My Music folder) to the external hard drive.

What do you mean my 'you can just avoid copying over the iTunes Media folder'? If I don't backup my iTunes Media folder I won't have a backup for the albums that I've added since my last backup. Or did I misunderstand?

Many thanks in advance,

VB ITSSpecialist ConsultantCommented:
Ah right, my apologies. I forgot about any new music you might add between backups.

I think this can be achieved by using a file copy utility. Are you using a Windows computer or a Mac? Also please specify what version of Windows/OSX you are using.
H AAuthor Commented:
John Hurst: Thanks for the link and I will try Beyond Compare this week and see how it goes.

VB ITS: Thanks, I'm using Windows Vista. When I bought my Western Digital Drive (which are more expensive than other drives) I actually hoped that it was coming with a free utility that would do this sort of thing, but that doesn't seem to be the case.

Thanks again to both of you,

VB ITSSpecialist ConsultantCommented:
Alright, what I would personally do is create a batch file on your desktop to run the Robocopy utility (which comes built-in with Windows Vista). This is a powerful file copy utility that many power users and system administrators use for copying files and even for backing up your data.

See here for more info regarding Robocopy;

First thing we'll need is to do is determine the path to your iTunes folder. It will most likely be C:\Users\<your username>\Music\ as specified here in Apple's article:
Follow the steps in the Find and change the iTunes Media folder location section of the above article to verify the path to your iTunes folder.

The process to create the backup script would then be as follows:
Open Notepad by clicking on StartAll ProgramsAccessoriesNotepad. Alternatively you can just type Notepad in the Search programs and files box in the Start Menu
When Notepad appears, copy and paste the below code (this script assumes your external backup drive has been assigned the letter F: and that you have a folder on this drive named Backups which holds all of your iTunes files):
ROBOCOPY "C:\Users\<username>\Music\iTunes" "F:\Backup\iTunes" /E /XO /R:0 /W:0 /NP /V /LOG:F:\iTunesBackup.log pauseNote: Remember to specify the correct path to your iTunes folder in line 1. Also update the path to your external drive as required
In the Notepad menu, click on FileSave As
Name it something similar to Backup iTunes.bat
Click on the Save as type dropdown and select All Files
Save the file to your Desktop
You should then see an icon with a cog on your desktop with the filename Backup iTunes. Double click on this icon and a Command Prompt window should appear - the backup process will then start.
You will know it's complete when a Press any key to continue... message appears

The above code will back up your entire iTunes folder but will not copy any old files that already exist on your backup drive. Best of all it's free - no need for third party software. Yes, it's a bit cumbersome to set up but once it's up and running it works very well.

Post back here if you run into any issues or have any questions.
H AAuthor Commented:
Thanks a lot VB ITS, this is exactly what I was looking for!!! Since you were asking which version of Windows I'm on, I assume that I will have to look for a different solution once I upgrade to Windows 7 or Windows 8 (which might happen fairly soon)? Would be nice if this little batch file (Robocopy) will also work in Windows 7 and 8 :(
VB ITSSpecialist ConsultantCommented:
This batch script will work perfectly fine in Windows 7 and 8 as Robocopy is present in both these Operating Systems :)

Only reason I asked was to make sure you weren't on a Mac as then the backup steps would be completely different.

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H AAuthor Commented:
VB ITS: Great, thanks! As I said before, it's exactly what I've been looking for!
H AAuthor Commented:
Thanks to both of you for your Help!

All the best, HA
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