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How to Back up Your iTunes Media in Mac OS X Lion

After spending a bunch of time and money ripping and buying songs to populate your iTunes library in Mac OS X Lion, you might want to protect your investment by backing up your music.

Actually, you should back up all your data files in OS X. But if you’re tempted not to back up all your data, consider this: Apple won’t replace media and music you’ve bought at the iTunes Store if you lose it.

Fortunately, iTunes makes it easy to back up your Music library with its built-in back-up-your-media command. To back up your music and media, here’s the sequence:

  1. In iTunes, choose File→Library→Back Up to Disc.

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    You have two options for backing up your iTunes library: You can back up the entire iTunes library and playlists, or back up only items you’ve purchased at the iTunes Store. Regardless of which you choose, you have the option of backing up only items that have been added or modified since your last iTunes Backup. You can also choose a speed for burning the CD or DVD from the Preferred Speed pop-up menu.

    If you have a lot of stuff in your library, this could require a lot of discs. Before you begin, you should make sure you have enough blank discs to complete the backup.

    Typically, a CD can hold up to 700 megabytes of data; a DVD up to 4.7 gigabytes; and a dual-layer DVD up to 8.5 gigabytes. When you click on your iTunes library in the Source List, the number of items and size in megabytes (MB) or gigabytes (GB) appears at the bottom of the window.

  2. Make your choices and then click the Back Up button to start.

    You should choose a speed one or two “notches” lower than the maximum. It’ll take a little bit longer, but this way fewer discs fail to burn properly.

  3. Insert a blank CD or DVD, and the process begins.

    If your backup requires more than one disc, iTunes ejects the current disc, and you have to insert another.

By the way, discs you create using the iTunes backup feature can be used only to restore your songs, playlists, and purchases; they can’t be played in an audio CD or video DVD player. To restore your music from an iTunes backup, merely launch iTunes and insert the disc (or the first disc, if the backup required more than one disc).

One last thing: If you’re new to iTunes, explore the excellent iTunes Tutorials, which you’ll find in the Window menu.

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