iTunes libraries can get huge. When iTunes only dealt with music, it was a large amount of space. Now that iTunes handles TV shows and Movies, the iTunes folder can consume extreme amounts of your hard drive. Just because iTunes wants to use your home folder by default to put all of your music, movies, and TV shows, doesn’t mean you have to keep it that way.
Here are seven reasons why you should consider moving your iTunes folder onto an external drive:
1. Free up space on your computer.
Its no secret that an iTunes folder with a movie or two, some TV shows and a good deal of music can be at least 15 GB in size. I’ve seen iTunes libraries reach almost 60GB. Really all it takes is a season pass to a TV show and a couple movies to almost triple the space. By moving to an external drive, you will reclaim that space from your laptop or iMac and devote your iTunes library to a larger external drive where it can grow without bothering you.
Once you authorize the computer, you can play your purchased media on it. Even if you didn’t download it from there in the first place. By setting up iTunes for an external drive, you can carry your music with you, wherever you go. This works great if you have a computer at home and another computer at work. With an external drive, you can easily switch between computers without the massive file transfers and space requirements you would need without one.
3. Sharing music directly with other computers.
Sort of like reason number two, but with an extra tweak. With an Apple Airport, by plugging in the drive directly into it, it becomes a network disk. Now your iTunes library can be accessible from any computer on your local network. Sure you could use iTunes music sharing, but now you can share movies and TV. Also, if the other computer is off or sleeping, the Music Sharing won’t work. You will have to authorize the computers to play purchased DRM containing media.
4. Peace of mind if your computer is stolen.
Its unfortunate but it happens. Laptops (and desktops) get stolen. At least with a portable drive, you won’t have to worry about replacing your entire music collection. Just make sure that drive isn’t with the laptop when it’s swiped. Leave the drive at home, where its safer. When traveling, you can use a USB flash drive instead of using the external drive for music, etc.
5. Less to worry about if your drive fails.
The dreaded hard drive failure. Wouldn’t it be nice if you didn’t have to worry about your iTunes purchases? By using an external drive, your iTunes files are safe. Just make sure you back up your external drive – incase it fails.
6. Easier to upgrade with an external drive.
Not everyone has a brand new computer with a giant hard drive inside. Older models aren’t so easy to upgrade, or worth the cost. Also, most iMacs can’t be upgraded without an authorized tech. Don’t forget that with a hard drive upgrade you’d also need to back up everything, reinstall OS X, transfer everything back on and redo all your settings. Or you could save yourself the gigantic headache and waste of time but popping in an external drive and using that for your iTunes. Remember, if Itunes is using up most of your old drive anyway, now you won’t need the upgrade.
7. Simple to upgrade to a larger external drive.
Finally, after using an external drive for a while – even that will fill up. With larger and cheaper drives coming out every year (remember when a TB portable drive was practically unthinkable?), at some point you will want to upgrade the external drive. This couldn’t be easier. Just transfer the files over and that’s it.
How to use iTunes with a portable drive?
Now that you’ve read the seven reasons and decide to use an external drive, Here’s how to do it:
- Open iTunes and select Preferences.
- Select the “Advanced” tab.
- Make sure the “Keep iTunes Music folder organized” checkbox is checked.
- If it’s not, check it and press OK.
- Go back into iTunes Preferences and click the Advanced tab.
- Click on the “Change” button in the ITunes folder location box.
- In the Window that pops up, navigate to your external drive.
- Click “New Folder” to create a new folder for your iTunes library.
- Then, click “Open” in the Change Music Folder pop up window.
- Click OK in the Preferences window to save.
- Go to the “File” Menu Bar item in iTunes.
- Choose “Library” and then choose “Consolidate Library…”.
- Click “Consolidate”.
iTunes will now copy all music, movies, TV and anything else into the external drive. It will also move your ratings and playlists. When it’s done, you can delete your original iTunes Music Folder.
Note: Do not delete the iTunes Library files. iTunes needs them. Just delete the media only in the original iTunes folder.