Use Dropbox as free iTunes iCloud storage / by Anran Li

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People that might find this useful:

  • People who have more than one computer
  • Those of us who don't buy all their songs from iTunes (e.g. import songs from CDs, download from a 3rd party retailer, or produce their own songs)
  • Family members/friends who want to share their music, videos, and pictures library with each other
  • People frequently travel without their computers and want their music library available anywhere with internet 

If you are manually arranging your music, just skip the steps about consolidating your library automatically. Make sure your iTunes is not automatically consolidating your files on other computers.

Before we begin, I want to introduce Dropbox--a program and free service for syncing files across multiple computers. This service provides an automatic online storage and backup. It eliminates the need for a thumb drive, copying all your files to the computers and handheld devices with your Dropbox account linked. For example, if I type out a word document, I will be able to view it on my desktop, two laptops, and iPhone/iPod/Android phone. There are several programs that do the same thing, but Dropbox is the most reliable and well-known. (Note that the basic free version of Dropbox is limited to 2 GB. However, by following the easy steps on their website, you can increase your storage up to 10 GB for free.) 

Requirements for this how-to:

  • Dropbox account and program (free) (see step one)
  • Internet connection
  • iTunes 9 or above (although newer versions are recommended)
  • Windows, Mac, or Linux computer

To have your entire music library--with the album covers, ratings, etc. readily available and updated automatically, follow the following steps:

  1. Download, register, and install Dropbox. Create one account and install Dropbox on various computers.
  2. Open iTunes, go to File>Library>Organize Library. A dialogue box will appear. Check all the boxes. 
  3. Next, go to Preferences (iTunes>Preferences). On the Advanced tab, you should see a heading called "iTunes Media folder location." Check the two boxes under it and then click the "Change" button on the right.
  4. A dialogue box should appear asking you where you want to copy the folder. Select your Dropbox folder (check your My Documents or user folder on windows and Documents or home folder on macs). Make a new folder titled "iTunes Media" and click OK.
  5. Repeat steps 1-4 on all the computers you would like to sync on.
  6. Wait for your entire music library to sync online and to your computers (watch the icon in the taskbar--if it is solid, then the syncing is done)
  7. Go to your new "iTunes Media" folder in your Dropbox. Drag and drop the entire contents into your iTunes window. With the newer versions of iTunes, the files are not duplicated when copied more than once.
  8. Because the files have been consolidated in your "iTunes Media" folder, you can delete all other copies of your music files, including the old "iTunes Media" folder. Just in case, keep those folders in the trash for a while until you are sure your music has been copied successfully!

Considering that Apple cannot allow this feature due to its Terms and Agreement, this is a rather sweet workaround. Plus, you can start using Dropbox to sync your documents, photos, and videos as well (if they are not in your iTunes library).

Need help? Anyone tried this? Suggestions on improving the method?