Q&A: Changing Time Capsules

Q I replaced my old 1 TB Time Capsule with a new 3 TB model. I would like now to erase the old unit and move my iTunes library onto it. How should I go about that?

A To reformat your old Time Capsule, connect it to your network and power it up. Once it is up and running, open AirPort Utility on your Mac, and locate the old Time Capsule – check twice that it is the old one, in case you end up wiping your new backups.

Select the Edit button in the popup bubble that appears, then the Disks tab. You should now be able to erase the disk from that dialog. Once that is done, it will just appear as a regular network mounted disk, still controlled through AirPort Utility.

There are two ways of moving your iTunes Library to that disk. The neatest is simply to copy the whole of the folder named iTunes from the Music folder inside your Home folder, which normally contains everything in the library. Then move the old folder from your internal hard disk away into another folder such as Documents.

Next create an alias on the Time Capsule to the folder there named iTunes, using the Make Alias command in the Finder’s File menu. Copy that alias back into the Music folder on your internal hard disk, changing its name to ‘iTunes’, just as it is on the Time Capsule volume. When you start iTunes up it should then look through that alias to the folder on your old Time Capsule, now containing your iTunes library. However, if the Time Capsule is not available, iTunes will complain bitterly that it cannot locate its library.

Once happy, you should be able to trash the old iTunes folder that you tucked away in your Documents folder, but only when you are sure that you have a complete backup.

The other method is to keep the iTunes library on your internal disk, but store all the music tracks on the Time Capsule. This is a bit more complex, as you need to copy the tracks kept in the iTunes Music folder inside the iTunes folder to the Time Capsule, then set iTunes’ preferences to store tracks in that location rather than on your internal hard disk. This works better if you set it up early on during the life of your music library, rather than later.

Updated from the original, which was first published in MacUser volume 29 issue 3, 2013.