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How to Setup an iTunes Library On an External Hard Drive or NAS

Did you know you can move your iTunes library to an external hard drive? If you are short on space and have a lot of media that simply cannot be saved using iCloud, then a great option is to move everything to an external USB drive.

I personally don’t use iTunes anymore, but I know a lot of people who store all their music and movies on their computer. Personally, I find it much easier to stream content from iCloud and use iTunes Match or Apple Music to listen to my music.

However, if you are using iTunes to manage music outside of iTunes or home video files, etc., then you really have no choice but to store your content locally. In this article, I will show you how to easily move your entire iTunes library to an external drive.

Basic requirements

Before doing any data movement, we first need to make sure everything is stored locally correctly. Open iTunes and click iTunes – Preferences in the navigation bar in OS X, or on the small icon in the upper left corner in Windows.

Now click the “Advanced” tab and make sure that the location of the iTunes Media folder is the default path is set to Users / Username / Music / iTunes / iTunes Media.

If the location is different, write it down, because this is where you will need to go, when we need to move data. Then on your Mac, click File in the navigation bar, then Library, and choose Organize Library. On Windows, you need to press CTRL + B or ALT for the navigation menu to appear first.

When you do this, another dialog box appears in which you will see a checkbox for merging all your media. You only have to do this to make sure everything is stored there before we make a move.

Select the Merge Files check box and click OK. Now that we have completed these two tasks, we can move on to the actual process of moving the library.

Move iTunes Library

At this point, close iTunes and connect your external hard drive. Now go to the iTunes Music folder on your computer. Mac users: Open Finder and click Music in the left list of shortcuts.

On Windows, navigate to the folder listed on the Advanced tab, which should be C: Users UserName Music . Inside, you should see a folder called iTunes. Copy this folder to the root of your external hard drive by dragging and dropping it.

Depending on the size of your iTunes library and your network connection speed, this process will probably take the longest. Please note that you should copy the library, not move it. We will later delete the local copy. After copying is complete, we need to open iTunes in a special way.

On a Mac, hold down the Option key and then click iTunes in the Dock. On Windows, press and hold the SHIFT key and then double-click to open iTunes. When you do, a dialog will pop up before downloading iTunes.

Of the two options, you want to click “Select Library”. Now go to your external hard drive and open the iTunes folder. There you will find the iTunes.itl file you want to select and then click Open.

If all went well, iTunes will download along with your entire library! You should be able to see all your media and play them. At this point, we can delete the local copy of the iTunes library. To do this, you need to first close iTunes and then remove the external hard drive. Now delete the entire iTunes folder stored on your computer.

If you open iTunes without reconnecting your external hard drive, you will receive an error message stating that the library was not found.

Click OK and then Exit. Plug in the drive and then open iTunes and you should be fine. Overall, the process is pretty straightforward and you shouldn’t have any major problems. The only problem I ran into was that I was using a Synology NAS to store my iTunes library, and if my NAS went to sleep, iTunes could not open. In the end, I had to change the settings to keep my NAS on all the time.

Everything else worked fine. When importing new media into my library, the files were copied to an external location and not to my local computer. If you encounter an issue where some files are copied to your local computer, just merge the files as I mentioned above. If you have any questions, do not hesitate to comment. Enjoy!

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