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Tip #8: Back Up Your iTunes Library

The music you rip from CD or download from the iTunes Store is stored on your computer's hard disk—and, eventually, synced to your iPod. But what do you do if your hard disk crashes? You don't want to lose all your music, especially those tracks you've paid for.

Fortunately, iTunes 7 lets you make a backup copy of your purchased music to a data DVD or to multiple CDs. Just open iTunes and select File > Back Up to Disc. When the iTunes Backup dialog box appears, choose to back up your entire library or only iTunes Store purchases. Click the Back Up button, and you're prompted to insert a blank CD or DVD into your computer's drive. Do so and then follow the on-screen instructions to complete the backup. (You'll be prompted to insert additional disks if your library is too big for a single disk.)

To restore your backed-up tunes to another computer, install iTunes on that computer and then select File > Back Up to Disc. Insert the backup disk into your computer's drive and click the Restore button. Every track you copied will be restored to this new PC.

Even better: Do you have two computers connected together on a network? If so, you can copy your entire music library from one computer to another. All you have to do is copy the entire iTunes Music folder; on a Windows XP computer, it's typically located at C:\My Documents\My Music\iTunes\iTunes Music. When you launch the iTunes software on the second PC, it should automatically recognize and import all the tracks in the copied iTunes Music folder. (The second computer, of course, must be authorized to play your iTunes Store purchases.)

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