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Apple + Tech

Tip: Migrating from Work to Home iTunes with your iPhone or iPod

It’s a pretty common question: “I’m leaving work and have been syncing my iPhone (or iPod) to my work computer, but now I want to change to my home computer for syncing and not lose my data. What should I do?”

Here’s my answer (written March 2012, this might change with iOS updates).

If you have a recent iPhone running iOS5 (the latest OS):

  1. You can backup to as many iTunes/Computers as you want. The computer will keep the latest backup, but the previous backups will still be on the original computer. The backup contains SMS messages, settings etc
  2. You can also upgrade the iPhone software using any computer … doesn’t have to be the same computer every time.
  3. Your apps are tied to your iTunes account, not your computer. So if you starts using your home computer you just need to login to your iTunes account from that computer and all your apps should be visible or at least downloadable again from iTunes if needed. If you have iOS5 on your iPhone you can also just update your apps directly to your iPhone – you don’t even need a computer for apps!


The rest of my answer depends a lot on whether or not you’s using iCloud, Photo Stream and iTunes Match.

  1. Music: how much music do you have on your iPhone / iTunes / Work Computer? The best approach depends upon how much music you have. Here’s my suggestions.
    • No music: no problem!
    • Small amount of music: I’d export it as AAC/MP3 from iTunes to a memory stick or CD/DVDs then reimport it to the new computer
    • Medium/Large amount of music: I’d subscribe to Apple’s iTunes Match service. You use your iTunes account and for $AU35 all your music would be moved to iTunes Match (effectively iCloud). When you log in to your new computer you will then see all your music. A different option is to buy some software that lets you download music from your iPhone to your new computer. http://thelittleappfactory.com/irip/ is good for $20. This is a good option if you also have movies/tv shows you want to transfer.
  2. Movies/TV:
    • See above re http://thelittleappfactory.com/irip/
    • Can also transfer via memory stick or DVD
  3. Photos:
    • If you are using iCloud then Photo Stream is good for last month’s photos
    • Memory stick or DVD for older photos

Hope that helps. If you needs more help then you should ask Apple – either Apple store or Applecare on phone.



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