Backing up your iTunes Store purchases used to be extremely important. That's because there was no way to redownload music or other content from iTunes. So, if you accidentally deleted a file or lost it in a hard drive crash, the only way to get it back was to buy it again. Thanks to iCloud, though, that's no longer true.
Now, using iCloud, virtually every song, app, TV show, or movie or book purchase you've made at iTunes is stored in your iTunes account and is available for redownload onto any compatible device that doesn't already have that file on it. That means that if you lose a file, or get a new device, loading your purchases on it is just a few clicks or taps away.
There are two ways to use iCloud to redownload iTunes purchases: via the desktop iTunes program and on the iOS.
Redownload iTunes Purchases via iTunes
To begin, go to the iTunes Store via the iTunes program installed on your desktop or laptop. On the right-hand side of the screen, there will be a menu called Quick Links. In it, click the Purchased link. This takes you to the screen where you can redownload purchases.
In this list, there are two important groupings that allow you to sort your purchases:
- Purchased: This first set of buttons lets you choose whether you want to redownload music, movies, TV shows, apps, or books
- All/Not In My Library: All, of course, shows you all purchases from your iTunes account. Not In My Library shows only purchases from your account that aren't on the computer you're currently using.
When you've selected the type of purchase you want to redownload, your purchase history will be displayed below.
For Music, this includes both the artist's name at the left and when you've selected an artist, either the albums or the songs you've purchased by that artist at the right (you can choose to see albums or songs by clicking the appropriate button). If a song is available for download (that is, if it's not already on that computer's hard drive), the iCloud button--a small cloud with a down arrow in it--will be present. Click that button to download the song or album. If the button is grayed out and reads Play, then the song is already on the computer you're using.
For TV Shows, the process is very similar to music, except instead of artist name and then songs, you'll see the show's name and then Seasons or Episodes. If you browse by season, when you click on a season, you'll be taken to that season's page on the iTunes Store. The episode that you've purchased, and can redownload, has a Download button next to it. Click that to redownload.
For Movies, Apps, and iBooks files, you'll see a list of all your purchases (including free downloads). Movies, apps, or books available to download will have the iCloud button. Click the button to download them.