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Preserve iTunes Library after Windows Upgrade

posted Feb 26, 2012, 1:54 AM by Ken Hunt   [ updated Feb 26, 2012, 1:57 AM ]
Problem ~ You've upgraded from Windows XP or Vista to Windows 7. Windows 7 Upgrade adviser tells you to uninstall iTunes and re-install after the upgrade. You figure you can just sync your iPod and get all you music afterwards, but iTunes gives just two options: 1) sync the current (empty) library with the iPod -- destroying everything on it, or 2) transferring the iPod songs to the library with the rather ominous line "all of your iTunes store purchases..." If you are like me, then a LOT of you music did not come from iTunes. The problem with Apple (sorry for the rant), is that they have this attitude that they know best, and the world revolves around them (why would you purchase anything outside of iTunes??), and their iPod transfer of music process absolutely sucks.

Assumptions ~ You have your iTunes music folder backed up somewhere (external drive or, after the upgrade, it may be in the windows.old folder).

  1. Download and install iTunes, but don't start it yet. If it has already started, just close it.
  2. Copy (do not move) your old iTunes music library to where you want it on the new operating system (just put it back where it was before the upgrade).
  3. Hold the SHIFT button down and double click the iTunes icon to start it.
  4. At the prompt that appears, select "Choose Library..."
  5. Go to the iTunes directory you just copied and select the "iTunes Library.itf" file.
  6. After iTunes finishes updating everything, go to Edit > Preferences > Advanced and change the iTunes Media Folder location to your copied iTunes library location.
That's it. You should be able to plug your iPod in and it will see all your music without changing anything (including play counts or other stats about your library). Apple has a KB file about it here.