There are some things that Apple makes easy, and others that stay complicated. If you have more than one computer – especially if you have Mac and Windows – handling backup and synchronization is a pain.
I use a Windows machine mostly as a media player at home, and a MacBook for work and mobility. I had most of the iTunes library on the Windows machine, and a few things that I had bought on impulse while using the Mac. I wanted to use the Windows machine (an XP laptop with a busted battery and some Logitech speakers) as the main media player (because I own it), and the mac for sometime listening. I wanted it all backed up, ideally in a couple of places, and I had a 300G USB hard drive for backup.
Here’s what I needed to do:
* locate and import some missing backup files from a dead computer into the main collection (the key was to search for a distinctive song title)
* reformat the hard drive to FAT32 so that it could be read/written from Windows and Mac. It had been formatted so that Windows could read/write but Mac couldn’t write.
* use the external hard drive to move the Mac library onto the PC laptop
* carefully copy the Mac files into the PC folders (there were a few artists for whom I had different albums on each)
* turn on “Sharing” for the windows machine so I can listen at home
This multi-step process took a little bit of figuring out, with the help of Google and some nice folk at the Apple store. Once I figured out the steps, the implementation took a few hours but was pretty straightforward.
I signed up for an online backup service, but didn’t use it because it seems like it will take a few days to back up my collection and that’s not practical. To make a second backup that’s not in my house, the way to go seems like a USB keychain that lives in my bag or wallet. I’ll rip some CDs and see what size I need.
As the next step in the project, I’ll become the last person on the digital planet to RIP my CDs. Why am I only now getting around to ripping CDs and organizing a digital music collection? To make a long story short, I hadn’t taken care of the digital music collection because until Apple and the labels took off DRM I considered the digital stuff disposable, and bought as little DRM’d music as I could. I had spent the time in Austin mostly focusing on Austin music, mostly on CD. When I got to the Bay Area, I was heads down on work for a bit.
When I came up for air, I wanted to “true up” my music collection and taste; I didn’t want to just listen to the things I already liked and things that are nearly identical. So I’ve been doing a little exploring with the help of last.fm and youtube and wikipedia. That’s a longer story that may or may not make it to blog form.