Q. I have a mountain of music CDs that I want to have transferred to my iTunes, but I don’t have the time to get it all in. Are there services out there that will do this for me? — Rob
A. The explosion in popularity of portable music players such as the iPod has created a new problem for many music lovers: transferring their extensive CD libraries into digital format on their computers.
Depending on the speed of your computer and its CD/DVD drive, a single CD can take up to 10 minutes to “rip” onto your computer. If you have a library of 300 CDs, you are looking at a 50-hour job to get them all transferred.
Most users have manually ripped a CD in iTunes or Windows Media Player, and the thought of doing it 300 times is overwhelming.
But before you go shipping your CD collection halfway across the country and paying $1 to $2 per CD (many services have a minimum of 50 to 100 CDs), there may be a way for you to easily get your music into your computer.
If you change the default setting for your music program, you can tell it to automatically rip a CD anytime that you insert it into your machine.
For instance, in iTunes you can set the program to automatically rip CDs by clicking on the “Edit” menu, then on “Preferences,” then on the “Advanced” tab, and then on the “Importing” tab.
Change the option for “On CD Insert” to read “Import Songs and Eject.” And while you’re there be sure to change the “Import using” option from Apple’s proprietary AAC format to the universal MP3 format. This will allow you to use the files on any standard MP3 player down the road, just in case the iPod someday loses its luster.
Once you have changed this setting, if you have iTunes open when you insert an audio CD, it will automatically start importing the music into your library and eject the disk to let you know when it’s done.
You can also set Windows “AutoPlay” to automatically open iTunes and import a CD the next time you insert a CD without iTunes open. Be sure to check the “Always do this…” box once you have made your selection.
If you are a Windows Media Player fan, you can set the same option by going to “Tools,” then “Options” and click on the “Rip Music” tab. In the “Rip Settings” section, change the format from the WMA format (Windows Media Audio, which won’t play on an iPod) to MP3 and put a check mark in the “Rip CD when inserted” and “Eject CD when ripping is complete” boxes.
If you keep your CDs in a stack next to your computer, in a relatively short period of time you will be surprised to see how quickly you get your music transferred into your computer.
Before you get started, however, there a few things you should check. The first is the amount of free disk space on your computer’s hard drive. An average CD will take about 50mb of space on your hard drive, so be sure to calculate how many CDs you can transfer before getting low on space.
Also, check the CDs to make sure they are clean before you insert them, and, finally, once you get your music library imported, get an external hard drive backup system so you don’t lose all this hard work.
If you still would rather pay someone to do the work, use Google to see if a local company offers the service (even if it costs more per CD) before you go through the hassle and expense of packing and shipping your collection. Try using “CD to MP3 transfer service (name of your city and state)” in Google to find a local company.
Also, do some homework (Better Business Bureau, user forums, etc.) on the company that will be in possession of your music library, especially if you only know them from their Web site. And don’t forget to insure the package when shipping.