The first thing you should do after you buy songs from iTunes

by Hadley Stern Dec 27, 2005

Being an author of a book about the iPod I get quite a few questions. The one that still amazes me to this day is most often asked with an expression of innocent incredulity onf the person’s face; my computer’s hard drive died and I lost all the music I bought, how can I get it back?

The answer is always delivered a little quietly at first, so that the news can sink in slowly. You can’t. If you didn’t back up your music it is gone forever.

Look at it this way, if you lost your CDs (or LPs, cassettes, or 8-tracks) in the old days and went back to the store where you bought them and asked them for a replacement what would the pimply cashier behind the counter say?

That’s right. It is the same thing for iTunes downloads. Apple has helped recently by adding a message that tells you to backup your downloads after you buy them. But still, a lot of people don’t get it. So consider this a public service announcement. After you buy songs for the iTunes Music store back them up, either on another hard drive, or onto a CD (just an MP4 CD, you can save space that way). Otherwise you may end up with that incredulous look.


  • Almost everyone eventually learns to do data backups ... some learn before they loose data ... some learn after.

    strick had this to say on Dec 27, 2005 Posts: 2
  • On the other hand, giving the fact that the music is DRM protected, there is no technical reason to think of why you won’t be able to downlaod all songs again. There are services out there (the other 5% market share) where you can download your songs again if somehow you have lost them (I think it is Rapshody, but I’m not sure)

    Martijn ten Napel had this to say on Dec 27, 2005 Posts: 6
  • Well, you can have each song you buy on up to 5 different computers, and I think it would make more sense to just let the other users download it directly, instead of having to give them the actual sound file. That’s what I have to do to share them with my brother.

    brunodog had this to say on Dec 28, 2005 Posts: 5
  • Thanks for reminding me I need to buy an external HDD smile

    Luke Mildenhall-Ward had this to say on Jan 04, 2006 Posts: 299
  • I just received my new Firewire (hear that, Chris - FIREWIRE!) 300GB drive after your public service announcement. I’m currently doing an entire ‘one touch’ HDD backup and decided to read your message again, seeing as how this time I can read it with relief, rather than anxiety.

    But I had the thought… We’re all legally purchasing our music through iTMS quite legally. But one day in the future, once we’ve gone through 4 or 5 new Macs, won’t we lose access to the music because we’ve re-authorized too many times? I’m not too familiar with how iTunes tracks DRM authorization, but is this a valid concern or not? I still have music from when I was 11 years old - in fact, the last song playing in my iTunes was on my first CD - but this hasn’t suddenly disappeared.

    Luke Mildenhall-Ward had this to say on Jan 13, 2006 Posts: 299
  • Sorry. I should really read this stuff before posting my questions. According to the iTunes support site, I can only have 5 computers authorized at one time, but I can de-authorize old computers to make room so I can authorize new ones. I guess that’s all dandy then smile

    Luke Mildenhall-Ward had this to say on Jan 13, 2006 Posts: 299
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