- Apple supports re-downloading your purchases after a hard drive failure. Go here: http://www.apple.com/support/itunes/store/browser/ and select the category Purchase(s) – missing and the sub-category My hard drive crashed / all of my purchases were erased and then fill out the form. Supposedly they’ll get your music back for you.
- iTunes has a built in backup method that’s much easier than doing the whole library folder. Personally, I only backup my iTunes purchases as I can re-rip anything else. If you create a smart playlist that specifies only purchased music, you can then burn that playlist to CD/DVD. (Before you burn, make sure you set iTunes to burn a data disc). You can also put a tag on it that only pulls music added to the library after a specific date. This allows you to backup as you go without having to re-backup your entire library. Of course, this method isn’t a true backup of the iTunes library. You’re merely saving the music files. If you do need to recover this way, you’ll have to import the music off your CDs/DVDs back into iTunes but you won’t lose any important information (unless you care about how many times you’ve played the song or you have spent days and days rating all your music).
- In Windows, you do not need third party software to get your music off your iPod back onto your computer (I don’t know about Macs). Basic steps are:
a. Verify you have double the size of your iPod’s content in free space on your computer.
b. Turn on the feature that allows you to use your iPod as a portable hard drive.
c. Allow Windows to see hidden folders.
d. Browse through the hidden folders on your iPod. There’s once called Music Library or something similar. Just drag that folder to your desktop.
e. Set iTunes to copy your music to its folders. This places all imported music in the My Music folder.
f. Set iTunes to keep your music folder organized. This renames all the folders and songs from things like XTYRGRE to whatever the album/artist/song name is.
g. Disconnect your iPod and then drag that folder into iTunes. This takes a while so be patient.
h. Once the import is done, delete the folder from your desktop and you should be good to go.
I’ve done this many times and never had any issues with it. Of course, you’ll have to follow this tip at your own risk.