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Just like cassette tapes before them, compact discs are steadily losing their grip on the music world, with many people opting for the space-friendly option of digital downloads or streaming services. But what should you do with all of those CDs you already own, which are taking up valuable space on shelves, in cupboards, or even in the roof? The answer sounds scary, but is surprisingly simple in practice: digitise your music collection.

With every computer coming pre-installed with some kind of media player, digitising your CDs is a relatively easy process, albeit a potentially time consuming one.

Before you begin you’ll want to make sure your computer is connected to the internet, and ensure your CD drive is in good working order (some newer laptops come without CD drives, which means you’ll need to pick up an external drive – they’re relatively inexpensive). Once you’ve made those checks, you’re ready to begin.

  • When you insert a CD into your computer, you will usually see a message appear, asking what action you would like to take – play the CD; open a folder to view the files; import the music etc.
  • You want to select the option that allows you to import the content to your music player (iTunes, Windows Media Player, etc). If you look at the Preferences or Settings of your computer’s media player, there should be an option to choose a default setting for when you insert a CD that tells the computer to automatically import the music to your library and eject the disc when it’s done.
  • Your computer will begin copying the files from the CD to your music library, and, if connected to the internet, should also correctly name the artist, album, and song titles, as well as assign the correct cover art for everything.
  • Once it’s done, it will eject the disc (if you’ve told it to do so), or make some kind of noise to let you know it’s finished its task, and you can move on to the next CD.
  • Once you’ve finished importing all of your CDs, it’s a good idea to think about making sure its protected by a backup or two (especially if you’ve decided to get rid of the physical copies as well).

Your safest option is to buy some kind of external hard drive, which is a great way to keep valuable data from the dangers of viruses or corruption. You should be able to pick up a terabyte hard drive for less than $100, which should be ample space for your collection (though if you speak to a salesperson about what you’re doing and how many CDs you have, they could offer guidance on how much space you’ll need).

Once you have an external hard drive connected, simply navigate to your computer’s Music folder (usually found near the “My Computer”/“Devices” folders – try typing Music into your computer’s search function if you’re having trouble finding it). Drag the entire folder to the external hard drive icon (usually appears right on your desktop), and wait for it to finish copying.

And just like that, your music collection is digitised and safe.

Which CD in your collection do you prize above the rest?

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