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Burn Your New iTunes Movies to DVD (and Protect Your Other iTunes Purchases)

by Erica Sadun

How much money have you spent at the iTunes store? And what do you have to show for it? An iPod full of music? TV shows? Those new games and movies? Too many people forget how much money they've put into their digital media. And when bad things happen--house fires, computer theft, iPod loss--they're not always prepared to be able to recover those digital assets.

There's something deeply intangible about the items we buy at the iTunes store. They entertain us, educate us, amuse, and move us, but in the end they're nothing more than streams of bits and bytes without a physical product to go with them. When we buy software, there's usually an option to purchase a hard copy and have it shipped to us. Not so with iTunes. There's no hard iTunes product.

In this article, I'm going to survey some of the ways you can protect and recover your iTunes purchases. There are physical ways like backing up your disks or burning your songs to CD or your movies to DVD. And there are non-physical ways, like taking out some insurance or requesting second downloads. Prepare against disaster and to make sure you protect that investment you've made in going digital.

Backing Up Your Computer

Obviously, regular full-computer backups are the easiest way to protect your digital media purchases. Regular backups, preferably redundant ones, make sure your data is there when you need it. You can use any kind of backup plan that works for you and store your data to hard drives, tapes, writable discs, online storage, etc.

For example, if you've got a .Mac account with its Backup software, you can automatically back up your iTunes data in addition to your personal data by selecting the Purchased Music and Video backup plan in addition to your other backups (Figure 1). This plan automatically backs up your iTunes purchases on a regular scheduled basis. Very convenient when you tend to forget things. (It's unclear at this time whether Backup has yet been updated to handle your iTunes game purchases. If not, this should follow quickly on last week's introduction of the iTunes Games store.)

Figure 1
Figure 1: .Mac offers an automated backup utility that lets you select from a variety of pre-built plans. The Purchased Music plan automatically backs up your iTunes purchases.

If you're not a .Mac user, iTunes 7 now introduces its own built-in way to back up and restore your media library and playlists. Choose File -> Back Up To Disc to open the automated wizard shown in Figure 2. This wizard walks you through the process of backing up to either CDs or DVDs. Choose among backing up your entire library or your iTunes Store purchases, or creating an incremental backup that saves the new data you've downloaded since your last backup. Unlike the .Mac Backup program, iTunes 7 will not remind you when it's time to back up your purchases. It's up to you to remember to back up regularly.

Figure 2
Figure 2: The iTunes 7 backup wizard offers a simple interactive way for you to back up and restore your iTunes media.

The time this iTunes backup process takes and the number of discs used depends on the size of your iTunes media collection. With the new, larger video format, you may be surprised at how much space your iTunes data occupies. A 100-minute movie may take up more than a gigabyte. I recommend reviewing your library using the freeware Grand Perspective utility, which graphically shows your disk usage on a file-by-file and folder-by-folder basis.

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