It is a good habit for an iTunes user to ensure that his or her music library is regularly backed up. This is because you never know when your computer might crash or become corrupted.
A backup will serve very good purpose in such an eventuality. You should, therefore, endeavor to ensure that your songs are backed up frequently along with their relevant album artwork. Here is how you can go about doing that.
Consolidate your iTunes songs
The first thing you want to do before backing up the songs in your iTunes music library is to make sure they are all in the same place. If you do not know it, all the files in your library are not always stored in a single folder. This may make backing up less thorough if you decide to go ahead without putting all your songs and other media files in the same folder. So you want to first consolidate your songs in iTunes by doing the following.
– Go to Preference in iTunes. You can do this by navigating to Edit > Preferences in Windows or iTunes > Preferences on a Mac.
– Click on Advanced and check the box next to “Copy files to iTunes Media folder when adding to library.” Click OK.
– Next, navigate to File > Library > Organize Library and select the Consolidate Files option. Then click on OK.
Doing this ensures that copies of your songs are saved in the iTunes Media folder, while the originals are preserved in their locations. You may as well delete the original files if you wish to save space on your hard drive since they have now been saved in the iTunes Media folder. Now exit iTunes.
Embedding Album Artwork
It is essential to point out that album artwork may not be backed up along with your iTunes songs, espcially not when you manually add artwork to iTunes. This is especially the case when you automatically downloaded cover art for songs from iTunes Music Store.
Apple seems to assume that you can as well re-download the artwork automatically when restoring your backup. The problem, however, is that not all album artwork is available via iTunes Music Store. Besides, some items may no longer be available.
The most efficient way to backup iTunes songs along with album artwork is to embed the cover art in the songs. By default, artwork is not embedded in a song when it is automatically downloaded from iTunes Music Store. Artwork is embedded only when it is manually added to a song by copying or dragging it to the Artwork window in iTunes and saving it.
For automatically downloaded artwork, you can embed such in a song by copying the image from and re-pasting same into the Artwork box under Get Info and then re-saving. The process could be tedious when you have numerous songs to work on.
A tool such as Doug’s AppleScript for iTunes could help make the process faster.
Completing iTunes Songs and Artwork Backup
With your iTunes songs consolidated, you are free to close iTunes. Then do the following:
Connect your external storage device such as flash drive or external hard drive to your computer. Locate the external storage device.
Open a second window and find your way through to your iTunes folder.
If you do not know the location of the folder, open iTunes and navigate to iTunes > Preferences in Mac or Edit > Preferences in Windows. Click on Advanced to see the location of your iTunes folder.
Drag the iTunes folder to your external drive and wait for the process to complete. If you want to backup only songs when artwork is already embedded, you may simply drag the iTunes Music folder instead. The duration of the backup will depend on the number of songs in your library.
When the process is completed, you should have all your iTunes songs and artwork safely backed up to your external drive.
Third-Party iTunes Backup Programs
It may not be realistic using the iTunes built-in backup feature if you happen to have a very large library. In such a case, you may want to use third-party backup utilities such as SyncToy, Synkron and Carbon Copy Cloner.
These tools can be used for both external drive and network share backups. They also simplify the process of backup due to their ability to backup only those songs and files that were added since the last time you backed up, rather than having to back up your entire library again.
Following the steps described above will not only help you back up your iTunes songs, but also all pieces of album artwork you have in your music library as well as movies, podcasts and other types of files you may have stored in iTunes. You may go for third-party iTunes backup utilities if you are not comfortable using iTunes itself, especially when your library is a very large one.