Useful backup trick for iTunes

I have somewhere in the region of 500 albums in my iTunes library, the vast majority of which are rips from physical CDs. However I tend only to buy music from the iTunes Music Store nowadays and as such make sure I back those tracks up regularly.

iTunes itself offers this facility by an option on the Back up to disc command to back up only purchased music to optical media, however I back up to a NAS device so this doesn’t work for me.

So, the rather neat and geeky method I use is to drop down into Terminal and do the following:

iBook:~/Music/iTunes/iTunes Music aspender$ find . -name *.m4p | cpio -pdmv /Volumes/music/backup

This pipes the list of m4p files found in my iTunes library (.m4p being the file suffix used by the DRM protected AAC files you get from iTMS) to the cpio command which archives them whilst preserving the directory structure. The inclusion of the -p option performs a copy-pass function which un-archives the files into the target directory. Alternatively you could omit this and keep a single cpio archive file around.

Easy access to the powerful Unix underpinnings of OS X is one of the reasons I love Macs.

As for the rest of the library, well I’m planning a major exercise to re-rip all my CDs into a lossless format for future proofing, then do conversion into MP3 so I’m not bothered about backing them up for the time being. More on that later though.

3 thoughts on “Useful backup trick for iTunes

  1. You’ll see from my blog that I’m still a bit of a newcomer to digital music. I’m currently using iTunes, almost against my will. I have not ripped many CDs yet. So far I’m ripping in 160k MP3 format for maximum compatibility across my machines and my players, whilst attempting to retain reasonable quality. I need to work out how to store the albums. I think I’ll probably go for some form of sizable NAS, when I get around to buying something reasonable. Currently I have bits of the collection scattered between 2 laptops and the Linux server, in inconsistent directory structures. I’m messy like that 🙁

  2. Hi Andy,

    If you are just starting out, I’urge you to rip everything into a lossless format such as WAV, Apple Lossless or (probably best) FLAC. You can then encode quickly from that into MP3 at whatever bitrate you want for a particular device. However, the lower your initial digital “master” the more problems you will have in the long run. I’ve discovered this over the years as the old stuff I ripped at 160k MP3 for the Creative DAP Jukebox back in the day sounds awful now when played through my Hi-Fi via uPnP.

    Admittedly the space requirements are larger with this approach, but hey disks are relatively cheap.

    As mentioned above, I’m about to undergo a painful exercise in ripping all my CDs again into a lossless format, primarily so I can store away the physical CDs and have future proofed digital copies. If the job is worth doing, it’s worth doing right, and more importantly once 😉

  3. Also, if you are ripping on Windows I’d recommend Exact Audio Copy rather than iTunes. And if you do want to go into MP3 direct, use the LAME encoder (will be picked up by EAC) and rip into 320k VBR. VBR will keep the file size reasonable.

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