Sync your iTunes library and settings across multiple computers on Windows Vista/7.

You will need Windows Vista or Windows 7, the newest version of iTunes, and a Dropbox account for this tutorial. A Dropbox referral link is provided in this article which allows you and I to both get more storage space! This is also doable on Mac OS X, but I do not have access to a machine for screenshots and testing. It is also doable with Windows XP, but the commands at the CLI are a bit different. I’ll update this later with that information.

Note that both computers must have the SAME user name.

REMEMBER: When working with your personal data it is IMPERITIVE that you back everything up before you start working. Anything can happen, and I cannot be held accountable for data loss.
Let’s just take the situation of 2 PCs, a laptop and a desktop. You want your desktop to function as a media server with all of your music for your laptop to access over the network. Let’s also assume that you have a separate hard drive to make things easier.

Let’s assume again that your media is stored on a separate drive than your iTunes library. I use my M: drive. We need to have this path mapped on the laptop to access the music across the network. Map the drive to the same drive letter on both PCs. There are many how-to’s on the net for reference here, so it won’t be covered.

1. Next, download Dropbox from here:
Dropbox

2. Install Dropbox using the instructions provided on their website. Once it is done installing and you have logged in and gone through the tutorial, come back here.

Welcome back.

Now, we are going to use Dropbox to sync our iTunes library AND settings between multiple computers. I like to have exactly the same settings and library on both computers.

3. The first step is to move our library files (not the music files) into the cloud! Go to your Music folder (C:\Users\USERNAME\Music) and CUT the iTunes folder.
(note, it is shown as a shortcut in the screenshot, it will not be on your computer)

1iTunesDropbox

4. Now navigate to your new Dropbox folder, by default at “C:\Users\USERNAME\My Dropbox” and create a folder called “iTunes”

2iTunesDropbox

5. Now go to that folder and paste your iTunes folder that you just cut from your Music folder.

3iTunesDropbox

6. Now time for some command prompt fun! Go to the start menu and type “cmd” then right click cmd.exe and click “Run as administrator”

4iTunesDropbox

7. Click “Yes” and you will see this:

5iTunesDropbox

8. Now type:

cd C:\Users\USERNAME\Music\
mklink /d iTunes “..\My Dropbox\iTunes\iTunes”

You will see:

6iTunesDropbox

Now, when you double-click the link you just created, it will bring you to your iTunes music folder. Remember you moved it to the Dropbox folder. But look at the address bar!

7iTunesDropbox

Windows looks at this as an actual folder, but every file here is actually one of the files in your Dropbox iTunes folder! Any file created, deleted, or modified here has the same done to it in the Dropbox folder.

9. Now go to your laptop and install Dropbox on this computer.

10. (Assuming iTunes is already installed) Go to your music folder on this computer (C:\Users\USERNAME\Music) and delete the iTunes directory.

11. Follow steps 6 – 8 again on this computer.

12. Go back to your desktop and go to the start menu. Type “%appdata%” and hit enter.

8iTunesDropbox

13. Navigate to “Apple Computer” and CUT the iTunes folder from inside of it.

14. Go to your Dropbox and make a new folder titled “AppData” and paste the iTunes folder into it.

15. Start up the command prompt again (step 6). This time, use the following commands:

cd “C:\Users\USERNAME\AppData\Roaming\Apple Computer”
mklink /d iTunes “..\..\..\My Dropbox\iTunes\AppData”

16. Go to your laptop and follow steps 12 – 15.

Now it’s a waiting game. Wait until the Dropbox tray icon has stopped being a blue “recycling” or “refresh” icon and has become a green “check” icon. At this point, fire-up iTunes. You should be ready to go.
This is doable without Dropbox, but the benefit is that all of the library files are stored locally on the hard drive. This means that access to changing song tags and browsing the library in general is MUCH faster than over the network. Dropbox does a binary diff between files and only uploads the bits that have changed, so when uploading a change to your library it is much smaller than the entire file.

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