Moving iTunes and iPhone to a New Computer

Filed Under (Personal) by Robert on November 27, 2009

I’ve been dreading having to move my entire iTunes library off of my old Windows XP computer and onto my newer PC running Windows Vista and have avoided it for a while now. I sync my iPhone with several computers—contacts and calender with one  and music, videos, podcasts, and applications with an older PC running XP—and it was just time to get the iTunes library moved over to a third, newer PC. But, this seemed like a daunting undertaking and like everyone else I was concerned my iPhone wouldn’t be recognized by iTunes on a new PC, that iTunes would force me to wipe it and add it as a new device.

Because I sync my contacts with yet another computer, the potential for problems seemed huge. If you search the Internet you’ll find dozens of ways to do this. Some ways more complicated than others. There’s no need to have to re-add your devices, merge contacts, etc. as described in many of these procedures if you just follow these steps.

This procedure is simple and the upgrade will be completely seamless. Once you plug in your iPhone or iPod to your new computer iTunes will recognize it and not force you to add it as a new device. All of your music, playlists, ratings, playcounts, apps, etc. will be migrated and appear as they di on your old computer.

These steps are  for moving your iTunes library from you current PC running Windows XP to a new PC on Windows Vista, but I’m sure the same can be done with a Mac just the locations of the iTunes folder will be different.

  1. Make sure you have the latest and the same version of iTunes installed on both PC’s.
  2. Do one last sync of you iPhone on your current PC which will create a recent backup file should you need it.
  3. As long as you let iTunes keep your media folders organized and copy all of your music to the media folders everything will get moved over without a hitch. Edit your preference and make sure that  in the “Advanced” tab both “Keep iTunes Media folder organized” and “Copy files to iTunes Media folder when adding to library” are checked. If not, do it now and save the settings.

  5. Copy your entire iTunes folder from your old computer to some external media. The easiest way to do this is with a portable or desk external hard drive. If your library is not that big and/or you have some large flash cards you can use these as an alternative though you may have to do it in pieces if your cards are not large enough to hold the entire contexts of your iTunes folder. In Windows XP the iTunes folder is located at C:\Documents and Settings\USERNAME\My Documents\My Music\. This is where you’ll be copying from. Copy this entire folder along with all of its contents to your external media.
  6. Copy the entire iTunes folder from your external media to your new computer.  In Windows Vista the iTunes folder is located at:  C:\Users\USERNAME\Music\. After you had downloaded and installed  iTunes on your new computer, iTunes should have created the default iTunes folder underneath the Music folder. You can delete this entire folder since you will be copying it from your external media, or just copy over it.
  7. Start iTunes on your new PC. You should see all of your music and media just as you did on your old computer. Now edit your preferences and go to the advanced tab just as in step 3. Make sure that  in the “Advanced” tab both “Keep iTunes Media folder organized” and “Copy files to iTunes Media folder when adding to library” are checked. If not, do it now and save the settings.
  8. Authorize your new computer by going to Store->Authorize Computer.

  10. Connect your iPhone or other device and sync as usual. You should see all of the same sync settings as when you connected to your old computer.

That’s it!


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