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iTunes Tune-up 9.1: Moving your library off a laptop

Ralph Graves is one of Crutchfield's blog editors, and part of the company's social media team. He writes about home audio/video gear, specializing in Apple-related and wireless technologies. Ralph holds a master's degree in music composition, and his works have been released on various labels. He's served as product manager for an independent classical and world music label, produced several recordings, and worked extensively in public broadcasting. Since 1984 he's hosted a weekly classical music program on WTJU, and is also active as a blogger and podcaster.

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In my last post I talked about relocating my iTunes library from my PC's hard drive to an external drive. The process worked so well, I decided to do it to my laptop, too. My laptop serves as a portable office, and I have it with me just about all the time.

While I usually leave it set up in the same place throughout the workday (unless I'm travelling), I still have to plug in and unplug the external drive almost daily for my commute.

I discovered that if I left iTunes open and disconnected the external drive, iTunes would reset itself to make the laptop's C drive the default library location. Although all the songs remained listed in iTunes, each had an exclaimation mark in front of them to denote an unknown address.

When I reconnected the hard drive, I had go into the iTunes "Advanced" menu and change the address of the library back to the folder on the external drive. I then had to select "update" and wait a minute or so while iTunes reestablished all the connections between its listings and the music files on the external drive.

iTunes also reset its library location to the C drive if I opened the program before I connected the external drive to the laptop.

Fortunately, the work-around was pretty simple. The secret was to close iTunes before disconnecting the external drive and opened it only after reconnecting the drive. As long as I remember the sequence, I can enjoy my music without cluttering up my laptop's hard drive.

And the good news is that even if I forget, the updating of the links is just a minor inconvenience, not a major systems crisis.

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