Is my iTunes library stored in the cloud?

What is the iTunes Library?

The iTunes library is a database that stores all of the media content you have purchased or imported into iTunes. This includes music, movies, TV shows, books, and apps. The iTunes library allows you to organize, manage, and play your media from one central location.

When you purchase content from the iTunes Store, it gets automatically added to your library. Any music, videos, or other media files you import from CDs, the internet, or other sources also get stored in your iTunes library. The library keeps track of information related to your media like artist name, album title, genre, play count, rating, and more. This allows you to browse and search your content efficiently.

So in essence, the iTunes library serves as a centralized catalog for all your iTunes content. It is where everything you own through iTunes is stored digitally, even if the actual media files live somewhere else. The library database allows iTunes to access and play your media on demand.


iCloud Storage Overview

iCloud is Apple’s cloud storage service that allows users to store data such as photos, documents, and music in the cloud. This data can then be accessed across all of a user’s Apple devices that are signed into the same iCloud account (Apple Support).

iCloud provides each user with 5GB of free storage space. Additional storage can be purchased for a monthly fee if needed. When content like photos, documents or music is added on one device, it is automatically uploaded and synced with iCloud. This means it is then available and accessible on all other devices connected to that same iCloud account (Apple Support).

For example, if you take a photo on your iPhone, that photo will automatically be uploaded and stored in iCloud. You can then access that same photo seamlessly on your iPad or MacBook or any other Apple device signed into your iCloud account. Anything stored in iCloud is kept safe and backed up remotely. This allows you to free up storage space on your devices while maintaining access to all your content through iCloud.

Syncing iTunes with iCloud

iCloud provides seamless syncing of your iTunes media across devices through features like iCloud Music Library and Sync Library. With iCloud Music Library enabled, you can access your entire music collection from any device signed into your Apple ID [1]. This includes songs purchased from iTunes as well as your own imported music. iCloud Music Library matches your tracks to the Apple Music catalog to make them available across devices [2].

Sync Library builds on this feature by keeping your iTunes media in sync on all your devices signed into the same Apple ID. Any changes you make to your iTunes library such as adding, editing or deleting songs will sync across devices. This ensures you have the same iTunes library available no matter which device you use [1].

iTunes Match Service

iTunes Match is an Apple service that allows you to store your music library in iCloud, including songs you’ve imported from CDs or other sources outside of iTunes ( With an iTunes Match subscription, you can access your entire music library from any device where you are signed into your Apple ID.

When you enable iTunes Match, Apple scans your music library and matches the tracks to songs already available in the iTunes Store catalog. This includes both music you purchased from iTunes as well as songs you ripped yourself or acquired elsewhere. Any song matched to the iTunes catalog is then stored in iCloud rather than on your device. For any tracks that are not available in the catalog, iTunes Match uploads a copy of the song to iCloud.

The advantage of using iTunes Match is you can access all your music from the cloud without having to manually upload your entire library. It also upgrades lower quality tracks to 256 kbps DRM-free versions. Your music is stored securely in iCloud and you can stream or download your songs on demand to any device. iTunes Match subscriptions cost $24.99 per year and support libraries up to 100,000 tracks (

Using iTunes on Multiple Devices

The iTunes library can be accessed across multiple devices, allowing you to stream and download your music, movies, TV shows, apps, and books on any device connected to your Apple ID. There are a few ways to enable this access:

You can turn on iTunes Match in the Account Settings on each device. This will sync your iTunes purchases and uploads across all your devices so you can stream or download them anytime (Source).

In iTunes Preferences > Sharing on your main computer, you can enable “Share my library on my local network.” This shares your library with other computers/devices on the same WiFi so they can stream from your full iTunes collection (Source).

You can manually manage each device’s music selection in iTunes by clicking the device icon and adjusting sync settings. This allows you to sync subsets of your library to different devices (Source).

Overall, Apple makes it pretty seamless to access your purchased and uploaded iTunes content across all devices logged into your Apple ID. Both streaming and selective syncing are available to give you flexibility in managing your library.

Managing Storage of iTunes Media

The iTunes library can take up a significant amount of storage space, especially for users with large music and video collections. Here are some tips for managing the size of your iTunes library:

Use iTunes Match to store your music in the cloud. iTunes Match allows you to sync your library with iCloud and access your songs without taking up storage space on your device (1). This can help reduce the size of your iTunes library.

Change where your iTunes media is stored. You can move your iTunes media folders to an external hard drive to save space on your main hard drive. Just go to Preferences > Advanced and change the location (2).

Delete music/movies you don’t listen to/watch anymore. Periodically review your library and delete content you no longer need. This will reduce the size of your library.

Use Optimize Storage for movies/TV shows. This option automatically manages storage by deleting device copies of content you already have in iCloud (3).

Consolidate your library files. Go to File > Library > Organize Library and select ‘Consolidate Files’ to copy media into the iTunes folder and delete outside copies.


Storing iTunes Library Externally

If your internal hard drive storage space is limited, you may want to store your iTunes media on an external hard drive instead. This allows you to free up space on your main hard drive while still maintaining access to your iTunes library.

To store your iTunes library on an external drive, you first need to move the library folder to the external drive. This can be done by going to File > Library > Organize Library and selecting the external drive as the new location. You can also hold down the Option key when opening iTunes to select your external library. (1)

Once your iTunes folder is located on the external drive, iTunes will automatically reference the external library when launched. You’ll be able to play music, sync devices, and manage your media just like before. All changes made to the library will be saved on the external drive.

If you enable iCloud Music Library, your iTunes purchases and Apple Music songs will still remain accessible via streaming, even if the external drive is disconnected. However, any local media files not matched by iCloud will be unavailable offline until the external drive is reconnected. (2)

Overall, using an external hard drive allows you to store a robust iTunes library while freeing up limited internal disk space on your Mac or PC. Just make sure the external drive is connected whenever you want to access your full iTunes media collection.

Backing up iTunes Library

It is important to regularly back up your iTunes library to prevent losing your music, movies, apps, and other downloads in case your hard drive crashes or your device is lost or stolen. Backing up gives you the peace of mind that your iTunes library is securely saved in another location.

According to Apple’s support article, the easiest way to back up your iTunes library is to consolidate your library and copy it to an external hard drive [1]. Consolidating your library organizes all your media files into one folder. Then you can simply drag that iTunes folder to your external hard drive to create a backup. Lifewire recommends backing up your iTunes library to an external hard drive because it keeps your files off your main hard drive, allowing your computer to run faster [2].

Backing up regularly prevents you from losing files and lets you restore your iTunes library if needed. It’s recommended to back up at least once a month or whenever you’ve added a significant amount of new content. Storing backups on an external drive keeps your files safe and provides extra peace of mind.

Security of iTunes in Cloud

Apple takes security of data stored in iCloud very seriously. According to Apple’s iCloud security overview, iCloud uses encryption and strict access controls to protect user data. Most iCloud data, including iTunes media, is encrypted on the user’s device before it is sent to Apple’s servers. This prevents unauthorized access to data while it is in transit.

For data stored in iCloud, Apple uses a minimum of 128-bit AES encryption. Encryption keys are created on the user’s device so Apple does not have access to them. iCloud data is not encrypted while in use on the user’s devices, but it is re-encrypted prior to storage in Apple’s cloud servers. Apple has also implemented data separation techniques, so data from different users is kept logically separate even if it is stored on the same physical hardware.

In addition to encryption, Apple has strict internal access policies for iCloud data. Only a small number of employees are authorized to access user data, and they must go through additional authentication. All data access is logged and audited routinely. Data centers housing iCloud information also have extensive physical security protections.

While no system is completely impenetrable, Apple has implemented industry-leading security practices to protect iTunes libraries stored in iCloud. Users can feel confident that their data is encrypted end-to-end and logically separated from other users’ data in the cloud.


Your iTunes library contains all your music, movies, TV shows, apps, and other content purchased through iTunes or added from other sources. By default, your iTunes library is stored locally on your computer. However, Apple provides the iTunes Match and iCloud services to help store your iTunes media in the cloud.

With an iTunes Match subscription, Apple scans your library and matches your songs to versions already available in their catalog. This allows you to stream or download your matched songs on any device. Any songs that aren’t matched are uploaded to iCloud, along with any videos or other content purchased through iTunes.

Alternatively, you can manually enable iCloud Music Library to sync your full iTunes music library to iCloud, whether the songs are purchased through iTunes or not. Your content can then be streamed or downloaded as needed.

Purchased apps, books, movies and TV shows are automatically stored in iCloud, while photos can also be optionally synced. This allows access across devices. But the full iTunes media library itself is not automatically stored in iCloud.

So in summary, your entire iTunes library can be backed up to or synced with iCloud using iTunes Match or iCloud Music Library, along with optional syncing for photos. Purchased iOS apps, books, movies and shows are stored automatically. But without these services, your iTunes library remains stored locally on your computer by default.