3. iTunes Quirks and How to get around Them
Now let's talk about the difference between moving iTunes content and regular data files like documents, etc. Firstly, if you buy content on the iTunes store you'll need to have your Apple ID and password ready so you can login to the store from your new computer, and you'll also need to consider whether you want the old computer to remain authorized. Remember that you are limited to a maximum of five computers that can be authorized to play content associated with your account, so if you don't want your old computer to remain one of those five, then you should de-authorize it (Click the Store menu, then "De-authorize computer.")
Your choice here will depend on what fate you have in store for the old computer and whether you plan to leave a copy of your library there.
The iTunes Library is actually a database containing metadata (information about information) about your collection of albums, songs, and movies. The database includes things like artist, album title, genre, album artwork, and the location of the actual mp3 files. It's this combination of your actual music files combined with the library's metadata that makes iTunes such a rich experience, but it also brings some complications that you need to be aware of when considering moving it to a new home. Accidentally break the links between the database and the files and your iTunes experience will turn bad.
The primary consideration is making sure that iTunes knows where the files are after the move. If the path to the folder containing your music changes, then iTunes will no longer be able to find it. How can the path change? Let's look at a couple of examples:
- Joe is switching from a Windows XP laptop to a Mac. Because the two use different file systems Joe's home folder on the PC is in "C:\Documents and Settings\joe", but on the Mac it would be in "/Users/joe". So the path to the track Dancing Queen by ABBA would change from "C:\Documents and Settings\joe\My Music\iTunes\iTunes Music\ABBA\Dancing Queen.m4a" to "/Users/joe/Music/iTunes/iTunes/iTunes Music/ABBA/Dancing Queen.m4a"
(The folder "iTunes Music" became "iTunes Media" in iTunes v9.)
If you were to copy your iTunes library database files over as-is, then iTunes on the Mac would still expect the track to be on the old path, and when you tried to play it you'd get an error saying the track couldn't be found.
- Joe is upgrading from a MacBook to a MacBook Pro. His username on the old machine was "joseph," but now he goes by "joe." Again the iTunes library links would get broken because the path to the files would change from "/Users/joseph/etc..." to "/Users/joe/etc..."
As you can see it's quite easy to break links with the iTunes library, but fortunately it's also easy to fix.