Almost everybody listens to their music from a computer that is tied into an iTunes music account. Some of us use multiple computers to play our iTunes music from home and work. The only problem with using multiple computers is that your iTunes music files can get out of synch and you can start to lose music or have troubles finding it. When this happens, it is best to consolidate all of your iTunes music files from those separate computers into one single location and make sure you do not delete or over-write the music you alread have purchased. Here is how you do it.
Things You Will NeedWindows computer
Download WinMerge Free Software
iTunes account and multiple iTunes libraries
External Hard Drive
If you want to synch your iTunes music files up from multiple computers into one library stored on one computer, then I recommend that you use a free program called WinMerge. I know that there are programs out there that are sold to exclusively synch your iTunes library files, but WinMerge is free, it compares files, check dates and versions, and is extremely easy and safe to use. I use this program because it helps me to avoid overwriting or deleting music files, and it helps me put all of the fiels into one folder location so that I can double check everything. To do this, it helps to have an external hard drive or to network your computers together so that you can search the drives. For the purposes of this article, we will use an external hard drive.
Download WinMerge here:
and install it onto your computer.
Step 2So get yourself an External Hard Drive that has enough space to handle all of your music. I used a 500 Gig hard drive and it was able to handle my music across three computers pretty well.
Step 3Using the external hard drive, connect it to one of the computers you want to copy your iTunes music folders from and create a new directory called "iTunes Master Files". Then inside that folder create the same number of folders for each computer you are going to copy music from.
For example, if you have three computers with different iTunes folders on them, you will create a main "iTunes Master Files" folder on your hard drive with three sub folders called iTunes1, iTunes2, and iTunes3. Then simply copy the music from computer 1 into the iTunes1 folder, copy the music from computer 2 into the iTunes2 folder, and copy the music from computer 3 into the iTunes3 folder.
Make sure that you only COPY your main iTunes music folders onto the external hard drive as opposed to MOVING the files, since you do not want to take the files off your computers.
Step 4Copy the main "iTunes" folder from each of your computers into the respective folder on your external hard drive. Be sure to only COPY and NOT MOVE - since you do not want to get rid of the files on your computers.
Once you have completed copying all of your iTunes music onto your hard drive from each computer, you will now have three main iTunes folder files that you can use WinMerge to help you consolidate. Plug the external hard drive into the computer that you want to house all of your iTunes music and open up the WinMerge program.
WinMerge works by simply comparing all of the files in one folder to the files in another folder so that you can compare them and copy them into one folder without deleting or overwriting your files.
Once you open up WinMerge, select "FILE" then "OPEN". It will give you a file selection prompt that will allow you to compare two folders. Open up the the root iTunes directory on your compter in the file browser that says "LEFT" and then open up one of your root iTunes folders on your hard drive that you copied from another computer in the file browser that says "RIGHT". Then click "OK"
*Note - we want to get the main root to make sure that we are getting the music files, the albums, the artwork, and everything in there.
Step 6When you click OK, you will notice that the WinMerge screen will start to populate with file names and that it will tell you if it is on the RIGHT, LEFT, or identical. What we are looking to do with all of your iTunes folders on the hard drive is to compare them to the iTunes folder on your computer and basically copy the files into your iTunes folder on your computer. To do this, remember that your computer iTunes folder is in the "LEFT" column, and the hard drive files are in the "RIGHT". So you want to find all files that say "RIGHT ONLY" and move them to the "LEFT" in WinMerge. This will copy the files over and help you to consolidate your library.
Do this for every single iTunes folder that you have on your hard-drive. This will copy everything over to your main computer. Remember to ignore the files that say "Identical" because this means you already have them.
Once you have completed using WinMerge to consolidate all of your files onto your computer, double check the files on your computer iTunes folder to make sure that everything transferred over from the hard drive and that you have all of your music files. Open up iTunes and then select "FILE", then "LIBRARY", then "CONSOLIDATE". This will cause iTunes to run through all of the iTunes files on your computer and pull them into your library. You now have one single iTunes master librabry with every single song you own - on one computer!
Synching up all of your iTunes music files onto a windows computer without deleting or overwriting any of the music you have purchases in not as difficult a task as you may think. By copying all of your iTunes folders onto a hard drive and then using WinMerge to synch them togetehr into one central computer location, you will be able to safely and effeciently move all of your iTunes music and rest assured that you will have updated your library without losing the music you love.
Tips & Warnings
Use an external hard drive to copy your iTunes music folders from each computer to in order to make sure that you are not deleting the main files on your computers. For example, if you have three computers with different iTunes folders on them, create a main iTunes folder on your hard drive with three sub folders called iTunes1, iTunes2, and iTunes3. Then simply copy the music from computer 1 into the iTunes1 folder, copy the music from computer 2 into the iTunes2 folder, and copy the music from computer 3 into the iTunes3 folder.
Make sure that you only COPY your main iTunes music folders onto the external hard drive as opposed to MOVING the files, since you do not want to take the files off your computers