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Topic: Saving iTunes Playlists

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Old 05-28-2007, 07:38 AM
Freshman Lounger
Join Date: May 2007
Location: Glasgow, Scotland
Posts: 2
Question Saving iTunes Playlists


I am about to reformat the Hard Drive on my PC because the setup of the system is giving me one or two issues (none of which are related to iTunes I might add).

I've set up a fair number of playlists on iTunes, and I don't want to lose those settings and have to redo them manually. Is there any way of exporting those settings so that I can re-import them once I've rebuilt my PC?

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Old 05-28-2007, 07:51 AM

Join Date: Nov 2004
Location: Toronto, Canada
Posts: 13,146

Hi and welcome to iLounge.

Why not just backup your entire iTunes library prior to formatting your hard drive? How are you planning to restore the music back onto your computer after you've reformatted?

If you're going to backup your entire library, just ensure that you also include the "iTunes Library.itl" file, which can be found in the main "iTunes" directory under your "My Music" folder. This is the database file that contains all of your playlists, ratings, playcounts, and other related information, as well as a list of all of your music and other media tracks and the specific locations in which they are stored.

Ideally, you want to backup all of the music and other media content as well, and ensure that when you restore it to your computer, you put it back in the same location, otherwise iTunes may not be able to find the files that it is looking for (since the database stores a full path to each individual file). If you didn't backup the music files, you would either have to find another way to put them back in the correct locations (manually), which would be a real pain, or you'd need to reimport them, defeating the purpose of saving your playlists, since the newly-imported tracks would not take the place of the old ones, but would show up as new tracks (with no play data, and no playlist entries).

Note that if you don't have an external hard drive or another means of backing up your iTunes library, you could always use your iPod itself in disk mode. A proper backup is still the best option, so in this case you should just set the iPod to "Enable Disk Use" (in iTunes) and copy your iTunes library to it through Windows Explorer. Depending on the size of your library and your iPod, you might need to erase the iPod to fit everything, and of course you wouldn't be able to play any music on it while you were doing this project, but once you'd restored your iTunes library to your reformatted computer, you could reload your iPod from iTunes.

As a last option, you could just use a program like CopyPod or iPodRip to restore your entire iTunes library from your iPod after you've formatted your hard drive. This is not the recommended option, as there are more things that could potentially go wrong with this process, and it will not technically restore everything (it will rebuild your iTunes database from the content on your iPod, rather than restoring it, so there may be information lost in the process -- certainly items like digital booklets would be lost in this case, since these are not transferred to the iPod at all). However, the advantage of these two applications is that they will restore your playlists, ratings, and playcounts, based on the content on your iPod.

The best option by far, however, is still to backup your entire iTunes library prior to reformatting your hard drive. If you've used the default settings for storing your music, everything you need should be located under your "<My Music>\iTunes" folder.

Jesse Hollington is offline