This article, taken from the Apple Support Website, tells you the right way to backup all your iTunes music to an external hard drive.
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If your music is located under one common Folder (e.g.,'iTunes'), then it is easiest to physically copy that folder and all its sub-folders in one simple go. It can be done quickly and incrementally several times a day, when necessary.
In the event of any data loss, just re-copy your entire (or partial) music library back to wherever it was, placing it in the main Folder that the previous iTunes expected.
Along with the 'iTunes Library.itl' metadata file, this completes a full 'restore' of your music to the time of your last backup.
Use of a backup software program will greatly help. It will allow you to easily perform incremental backups of only the files that have changed. WinXP has such a facility built-in.
Backup to an External Hard Disk Drive
There are at least two easy methods for backing up to an ExHD
Drag and Drop
- Just 'drag & drop' the complete 'iTunes' folder (and all sub-folders to your ExHD. Windows Explorer is fine for this simple method.
- Download, install and use FileSync to setup a backup process that can be run with just several mouse-clicks. This will do a comparison of your current files and copy over (to any destination, preferably an ExHD) those files that have changed.
Sources and Relevant Links