Tobold's Blog
Friday, September 02, 2011
iTunes transfer

One of the "joys" of getting a new computer is re-installing a lot of software and transferring a lot of data from the old computer to the new. This has gotten easier in the age of digital distribution, for example I only had to install Steam on the new computer and log into my account to have access to all the games I ever bought on Steam. The problems started when I tried the same with iTunes. As my iTunes library consists only of songs I bought on the iTunes store, I expected to have access to them on the new computer. Especially since the iTunes help specifically tells me that I'll have access to all my purchased songs and offers a detailed guide on how to download the old purchased songs to the new computer. Only problem: It didn't work at all. Following the instructions I soon ended on a screen where the screenshot of the help file showed a button to press, but that button simply wasn't there.

After several tries, browsing through the iTunes help files and the online support, I finally mailed Apple support. Who answered me within a few hours, which I consider good service. But the answer was that in fact their system does not at all work as described in the help files, unless you live in the USA. The download purchased songs functionality is part of a service called iCloud, which is only offered in the USA for various copyright and license reasons. Okay, I understand that. But then why don't they write that in their help files??? Nothing is more annoying than having a detailed guide on how to do something, only to find that it doesn't work.

I ended up going for the more complicated Plan B: Setting up a home network between my old Vista computer and the new Windows 7 computer, setting the iTunes on both computers to sharing mode (which isn't easy because again the iTunes help files contain lots of errors, obviously having been written for an earlier version of iTunes), and importing the shared library from the old computer to the new computer. So now I do have all my songs on the new computer. But I find the inaccuracies of the iTunes help files really annoying. Misleading help is worse than no help at all. And if your software works differently in different regions of the world, that fact needs to documented in the help too.
Are you saying you can't re-download purchased songs if you don't live in the US? That would be an absolute killer for any ideas I might have about buying songs on iTunes. (Not that I fancy the idea of giving money to apple in the first place. But that's a completely different topic.)
It's a mystery to me that Apple makes pretty good stuff, except Itunes that blows monkeyballs.
Are you saying you can't re-download purchased songs if you don't live in the US?

Exactly. If you are not living in the USA, you just get one download for the songs you purchase, and need to make backups for yourself if you don't want to lose them.
Other regions of the world? Whatever are those? Doesn't everyone live in America?

Snark aside, I completely agree. All manner of region-locked media sends me into a fit of rage, especially if I have to chase up and down obscure help files only to eventually put two and two together, that whatever I'm looking for is not available in any country with a name other than US of A.

Steam sneakily disappears whatever is not available, and sometimes is a little schizophrenic in how it does so. Apple iTunes, their App stores, etc.

Oh, and I still miss Pandora.
iCloud is supposed to be in developer-only beta stage and the website says that it'll be available for everyone eventually. I don't know why Apple support said it was US-only, because it certainly wasn't marketed as such, and Finnish App Store purchases already use the iCloud.
Here is the way I move iTunes.
Install iTunes on the new computer. Then copy the entire iTunes folder in the Music directory from the old computer to the new computer in the same location. This should move all the songs as well as the library file. Then when you open iTunes all your songs, playlists, everything should be there. You just need to put in your iTunes login and password and authorize the new computer.
Installing a free vpn service to make them believe you are in the US might work.
Ermm .. big IT project, stack of folders with requirements and changes, trickle-down design.

Means that the last thing that will happen is that someone goes through these folders, sees what applies to non-US customers and actually updates them.

... not everybody does Agile or XP, especially not the big ones.
I don't disagree with you.

And region codes are a bad idea and are in no way designed to benefit the consumer. While Americans are not the most cosmopolitan of people, region codes having little to do with isolationism but with large multinationals (regardless of where they are based: Sony/TW/EMI/Bertelsmann.) wanting to price differentiate amongst consumers.

The Apple fanboy explanation is that Apple decided to change its "computer as center of everything" to a "cloud is the center of everything" with a June announcement of an Autumn deployment. Except iTunes was going first. And the iOS (iPhone/ipad/itouch) components are still a couple of months off. A couple of months ago, US iTunes behaved the old way you described. Until iCloud came online.

Remember when iTunes launched, not only was it one download but the music was encrypted so it only played on five computers. ( While this was a PITA and not a good thing, it was about the least consumer unfriendly method of digital distribution of its ancient time. Note this was blamed on the Music labels and Apple got them to allow unencrypted a few years ago. ) Apple can only sell media in ways the media companies approve. And the video "sales" model is even more frustrating.

Not that long ago, you lost everything not on your backup when an old computer went away. The joys of the windows registery meant sometimes even having a backup of the program was not enough, you needed the install disks for a different machine.

In 5 years I hope consumers will expect everything to behave like Steam. And perhaps in a decade almost all my data files can be in Google docs so I have nothing to backup. And TBH Apple, Google, Amazon , Steam et al are not doing this out of altruism but for enhanced revenue by locking everyone into their cloud.
Here is the way I move iTunes.

I don't use iTunes. Or any other app that imposes DRM on music.
I never had this problem since I created a US account while I don't live in the US.

Mostly because I know that all the goodies will be for the US.

Which turned out to be right..

For your case it will be hard to change the country to US. since you will have to present a US payment method, US issued credit card or Paypal linked to a US account.

Creating a new US apple account doesn't necessarily need purchase method..

Have you tried forcibly changing the library id in your new machine's iTunes to match the one in your old machine. I read about this one day. It can solve your problem. Apple's servers will think it is your old machine without your purchases and it will download them.

Google "change iTunes library ID"
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