Re-ripping music on a new computer is not the end of the world although it's highly undesirable. Worse than re-ripping is playing the role of music librarian if forced to add album art and tags to those re-ripped albums. That can literally take five times longer than ripping if a collection doesn't contain "popular" music.
To simplify life for all the readers who've recently discussed this type of iTunes move I will publish videos demonstrating how to accomplish this without losing a single bit of information. There are a few reasonable combinations to cover in this series. For example, local library and local music files, local library with externally stored music files, and externally stored library with externally stored music files. This first video covers the local/local configuration. This is the most popular and default iTunes configuration.
One thing for beginners to keep in mind throughout the series is the difference between the iTunes Library and the iTunes Music Folder. The iTunes Library is a file(s) that contains a list of your music, its location, and additional data about the music. The iTunes Music Folder is the location of all your music. This Music Folder is set in the iTunes Preferences Advanced Tab.
iTunes Music Folder Location
Default location for Mac OS X: /Users/username/Music/iTunes/iTunes Music
Default location for Windows Vista: usernameMusiciTunesiTunes Music
Default location for Windows XP and Windows 2000: Documents and SettingsusernameMy DocumentsMy MusiciTunesiTunes Music
iTunes Music Folder Preferences
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iTunes Library File Location and Explanation
Default location for Mac OS X:?/Users/username/Music/iTunes/iTunes Library ?/Users/username/Music/iTunes/iTunes Music Library.xml??
Default location for Windows Vista: usernameMusiciTunesiTunes Library.itl usernameMusiciTunesiTunes Music Library.xml
Default location for Windows XP and Windows 2000:?Documents and SettingsusernameMy DocumentsMy MusiciTunesiTunes Library.itl ?Documents and SettingsusernameMy DocumentsMy MusiciTunesiTunes Music Library.xml
According to Apple the purposes of these Library files include:
iTunes Library (iTunes Library.itl in Windows)
This file is a database of the songs in your library and the playlists you've created. Some song-specific data is saved in this file. If you delete the file, iTunes creates a new, empty copy when you open the application, but any playlists, song ratings, comments, or other information you created is lost. The iTunes Library file is only used by iTunes.
Note: The library file name for versions of iTunes prior to 4.9 was "iTunes 4 Music Library" for Mac OS X and "iTunes 4 Music Library.itl" for Windows. After upgrading to iTunes 4.9 or later, the older library files are moved to a "Previous iTunes Libraries" folder.
Tip: New versions of iTunes sometimes include enhancements to the iTunes library. When you open the new version of iTunes, iTunes upgrades your existing library to the new format and places a copy of the old library in the Previous Libraries folder. If everything goes fine during your upgrade to the latest version of iTunes, you can delete the older iTunes Library files.
iTunes Music Library.xml
This file contains some (but not all) of the same information stored in the iTunes Library file. The purpose of the iTunes Music Library.xml file is to make your music and playlists available to other applications on your computer. In Mac OS X other iLife applications (like iPhoto, iDVD, and iMovie) use this file to make it easier for you to add music from your iTunes library to your projects.
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