It’s always advisable to make a back-up of your music library – that is, a copy of all the files, which are then kept separately from your computer.

Backing up is easy and can ensure that your music is secure in case of disaster. Even if all your music originated from your own CDs, a back-up will save you hours of work reinstalling them all.

This guide will describe three ways of backing up your library.

To back up your iTunes library using Apple’s iTunes Match

Apple’s iTunes Match is a useful option if you don’t want to buy an expensive hard drive and want to be able to access your music library on a variety of different Apple devices. It has an annual cost of £21.99.

You’ll need:

  • a computer with access to the internet, ideally through a broadband connection
  • an iTunes account
  • iTunes installed on your computer.

Step 1: Open iTunes by double-clicking on the iTunes icon on your desktop. Alternatively, click Start, hover over ‘All Programs’, find iTunes on the list and then click it.

Step 2: Click iTunes Match, which is listed under Store in the left-hand menu.

Step 3: You will now be taken to a screen that explains how iTunes Match works. Essentially Apple scans your entire music library, not just songs you have bought from iTunes, and matches it to songs it has already indexed on the service.

Any songs you own that Apple hasn’t scanned from other users’ libraries will be uploaded to iCloud – Apple’s cloud storage service that allows you to synchronise your information across all of your devices. How long this takes depends on how many unique songs you have in your library.

As an added bonus, any songs below 256 Kbps will be upgraded to the higher quality free of charge.

If you want to go ahead with using this service, click Subscribe for £21,99 Per Year. Unless you cancel your subscription, Apple will continue to take £21.99 from your bank account each year.

Step 4: You will now be prompted to enter your Apple ID and password. Once entered, Apple will scan your music library. How long this takes depends on the size of your collection. Once completed, you will be able to listen to you entire music catalogue on any Apple device that is set-up with your Apple ID.

To store your iTunes library online

To do this, you’ll have to use a company that provides this service. There are a number of free providers online – for example, Dropbox or SugarSync, which provide 2GB and 5GB of free storage respectively and more if you pay for it.

  • Dropbox - Follow some easy-to-use instructions, and you’ll end up with a new box in your ‘My Documents’ folder. Simply copy your audio files into the box, and they’ll be automatically backed up. The 2GB of free storage will hold approximately 500 songs.
  • SugarSync - This service gives you 5GB of free storage and operates in a very similar way to Dropbox. However, for storage, you’ll need to pay a minimum of $7.49 per month.

To store your iTunes library on an external hard drive

This memory device can be bought from any computer store or from an online retailer such as Amazon. It gives you a way of storing your music externally, so that you have a copy of it completely separate from your computer. It also is the best option if you have a very large library of music.

You’ll need:

  • a computer with access to the internet, ideally through a broadband connection
  • an email account
  • iTunes installed on your computer
  • an external hard drive.

Step 1: Plug your external hard drive into your computer via the USB connection. You should have been supplied with a cable to do this when you bought the hard drive.

Step 2: Close iTunes if you have it open.

Step 3: Click Start, then Music.

Step 4: Right-click Music in the new window that now appears.

Step 5: Left-click Copy.

Step 6: Identify your external hard drive. It should be listed below ‘Computer’. Your computer will usually be listed as ‘(C:)’ and the external hard drive will be below that. Here, it’s listed as ‘Removable Disk (F:)’.

Step 7: Right-click the name of your external hard drive.

Step 8: Left-click Paste. Your computer will now back up all your music to the external hard drive.

Step 9: When the back-up process has finished, ensure that you properly disconnect your external hard drive and store it in a safe place.

Chris Quartermaine is a Digital Unite tutor for Chester, South Wirral and north-east Wales.