When Nathan switched computers he lost all the music he bought off iTunes, but he got it back by e-mailing Apple’s iTunes support at iTunesStoreSupport@apple.com.
This is the message he received in reply:
I understand the titles you purchased from the iTunes Store with account [redacted] were lost. I know how upsetting that can be. My name is Jesse and I would be more than happy to help you with this today.
Seeing that you have been a loyal customer since September, 2004, the iTunes Store would like to give you the opportunity to redownload (at no charge) all the titles you purchased on this account that are still available. This does not include any item that has been modified or removed from the store since you purchased it. Please note that you may download your purchases only once, so this is an exception. Also note that Apple does not offer protection for the loss of data from your hard disk, so I recommend that you back up your iTunes library as soon as possible and thereafter on a regular basis. I’ll include backup instructions in this email.
Custom ringtones that you made and purchased using iTunes on your computer cannot be replaced because they are created and stored only on your computer’s hard disk. Ringtones you purchased on your iPhone will be made available for you to download again as long as they are still available for sale on the iTunes Store and have not been modified.
Any movies you may have rented will not be made available for you to download again. If you rented a movie and were unable to finish watching it, please reply to let me know.
Follow these steps to download the available items:
1) Make sure you’re using the latest version of iTunes. It can be downloaded free of charge from the iTunes website:
2) Open iTunes.
3) From the Store menu at the top, choose “Check for Available Downloads”. If you’re unable to upgrade and are using iTunes 7, the option will say “Check for Purchases”.
4) Enter your account name and password, then click Check. Your purchases should begin downloading. If you receive an error message while downloading, try again after turning off any firewall or web-accelerator software that you may have installed.
If you want to pause your downloads and resume later, click Downloads on the left side of iTunes, then click the Pause All button in the lower right corner. When you’re ready to resume downloading, just choose “Check for Available Downloads” from the pull-down Store menu at the top, enter your account name and password, then click the Check button.
I do need to mention that I was unable to restore every item in your purchase history. When an item is modified in the iTunes Store, or removed entirely, we no longer have access to the original one that you ordered. This is what I couldn’t restore: [redacted]
Fortunately, if you have an iPod or iPhone and have your purchases on it, you can transfer items back to your computer using iTunes. You’ll find instructions in this article:
Copying iTunes Store purchases from your iPod or iPhone to a computer
As soon as your download is finished, it would be a perfect time to do a backup of your entire iTunes to make sure you never lose your purchases. This is something I make sure to tell all my friends to do. Here are some great articles that I use all the time to back up my own iTunes library and playlist.
Instructions for backing up your entire iTunes Library
Instructions for making regular, incremental backups
Instructions for backing up your playlists
Back up your iTunes library by copying to an external hard drive
Backing up your iTunes library to CD or DVD
Thanks to Nathan’s work, you can get lazy and not follow the back-up instructions. If you lose all your music, you can just cut and paste this link and sent it to customer service, begging for the same treatment.