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Huge mistake when moving iTunes folder to external hard drive

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Oh I am kicking myself so much now.

I had the iTunes media folder on a partitioned external HD which was fast running out of space.

So I copied the folder back to my internal drive, reformatted the external disk to one partition then moved the iTunes folder to the external hard drive.

Reset preferences on the iTunes to the new non-partitioned external hard drive.

Yep I can hear you all groan at my stupidity.

Opened iTunes only to realize my mistake. All the songs, movies, tv shows etc all have that "!" next to it because I have obviously broken the links!

Anyway that I can save myself hours and hours of painful locating each song and show?


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Delete the albums on the ITune window and then Add to Library your "new" albums on the new partition.


If you are not sure about this process, you may Add To Library first and than delete the "!" files


MacPro Xeon/Audirvana-ITunes/USB/W4S DAC2 SE/ADAM Delta

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Whoa - that should not be a problem. When you reset the preferences, are you SURE you pointed to the right spot? I would bet you a quarter that the media location setting in iTunes is incorrect.


I do exactly this kind of thing all the time, with no issues at all.


Double check the location setting, then exit and restart iTunes. It will say something about "updating library" and if you have the location correct, all the exclamations will go away and it will just work.






Anyone who considers protocol unimportant has never dealt with a cat DAC.

Robert A. Heinlein

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ssgp2 has the gist of it.


Are you also wanting the benefits of letting iTunes keep the library organized and to add content to the Media location when "adding" to iTunes? Then ensure those prefs are already checkmarked.


1) Ensure iTunes is pointing to the correct location for the Media folder (where music, apps, movies and so on reside. If the Music folder isn't yet in there, put it in there.)


2) In the iTunes UI, delete all the songs. Leave the playlists alone. Make is appear as if "nothing" is in iTunes. Strictly speaking, this step is optional but will ensure later that the only things appearing in iTunes are indeed located.


3) Drag your Media folder into iTunes' open window, in the upper left portion, the Library portion. iTunes will add everything back. What this does is update the library and XML files that tell the UI where content really is.


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Thank you so much. Basically I just went to one of the "!" and ask it to locate it etc and it did manage to find most of my missing links. I just did it a couple of times with a few "!" and it managed to trace all of the files.

It wasn't as bad as I thought it would be and took about 40 mins.

Phew! Happy now :)


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Okay totally confused :(

Please stay with me.

The iTunes media folder is a folder that I exported out to the external hard drive from Home>music>iTunes>iTunes media

This was where all my shows, movies and music was stored. There were folders already labelled music, movies TV shows, books etc This was >600GB.

As explained above I managed to get everything back into it's appropriate folder.

iTunes no longer had "!" everywhere and voila thought that was it.

BUT now I have noticed that every time I play a song it will create another copy of the song in the iTunes media folder on external but not under the sun folder called music. So after playing 10 songs I have 10 files in the Itunes media folder when there is another copy in the music folder. Make sense? I like things tidy and organized so this is driving me crazy.

I just looked in my TV shows file and most of my TV series are missing! But when I look in Itunes they are there and play. After being played they show up in the external drive>iTunes media>tv shows and in the correct TV show! Huh?

Help I feel I have lost the plot!


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Woo boy... did you copy or re-use your existing library? If not, copy it to the external drive, then start iTunes while holding down the option key, and select that library on your external drive.


Then go into preferences -> advanced and set the media location.


That really should be ALL you have to do to get everything working 100%.

If you go and delete you files from iTunes you are going to loose any customized metadata in the database, like artwork that was not embedded directly into the tracks.


Hope that helps a bit.




P.S. I mean the "iTunes Library" file and the artwork folder that should be present with it.


Not the media files!


Anyone who considers protocol unimportant has never dealt with a cat DAC.

Robert A. Heinlein

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I think this is where I start to lose the plot.

I don't think I moved the iTunes library. I just moved the iTunes media files to the external disk initially and the preferences was set to look for the media location. Everything worked fine.

Then I started the above unpartitioning my external hard drive then losing the link etc.


So now what? When you say move my iTunes library to my external drive what is that? Do you mean this file?




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I must not understand, are you saying you deleted the physical media files?

If so, then restoring them is your only option, but that is not quite what I understand you to say.


If you moved the files, then changed the external disk by starting to reformat it or something, then I would still recommend a restore.


If I have missed the boat totally, then I apologize. :)


What I would do is take a backup of the iTunes library (Home>library>iTunes) and pop it on the external drive. A backup would be preferable, in case something has gotten corrupted. They just open it and point to the media files. Everything should be A-OK.





Anyone who considers protocol unimportant has never dealt with a cat DAC.

Robert A. Heinlein

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The problem:


iTunes creates its files in the user's home directory, in the Music subdirectory.


We like to keep everything on an external drive.


If, due to disk arbitration or any other glitch upon startup or login, iTunes does not see this external drive, it reverts back to ~/Music and starts creating stuff there. Moreover, if you re-load stuff, it will start moving and organizing on the internal drive under ~/Music.


The solution:


The one method I have found to be 100% effective is this:


Delete the iTunes subdirectory in ~/Music. (Make sure everything you want is still on that external drive). Hiding it, or sticking it in the trash isn't good enough. You have to wipe that thing clean off your internal drive.


Next, fire up the terminal, and make yourself a symbolic link as follows:


ln -s /Volumes/YourDriveName/subdirectory/iTunes /Users/yourusername/Music/iTunes


Now it will always work. If the external drive is missing, unplugged, whatever, iTunes will simply fail to open, instead of creating a new library.


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One related question: I tried creating a new library on an external disk and pointed Itunes to it. I then pointed it to the media folder also on the same external disk. It doesn't load these files into the library. Yet, when the library files are on the local (internal) hard disk it works okay? Why is this?


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