Q: I have thousands of songs in my iTunes at home that I would like to listen to at work and I don’t want to pay Apple to use iTunes Match. Any other suggestions? — Nicholas
A: Most of us have accumulated digital music from a myriad of sources over the years that can range from ripping CDs to buying songs online.
If all the songs you want to listen to were purchased via the iTunes Store, you can use the iTunes in the Cloud feature of iCloud (http://goo.gl/HLaiJ) to download all your previous purchases to any iTunes library, including any Apple mobile music players (iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch).
But, if you are like most of us, you have lots of music from many years of ripping CDs, so you’ll want something more.
If the library isn’t too big, you could use the old “sneaker network” by copying the files to a USB drive and taking it to the office to transfer. If you have a large music collection, you could use an external hard drive to transport the songs.
The problem with any “old-school” manual copy process is that it’s kind of a hassle if you continually add songs to your library.
As long as you have a high-speed Internet connection, there are lots of free online options for uploading music files so you can stream the music from anywhere or any device or download them to another computer.
If you simply want to upload the songs to the “cloud” so you can download them at work, any of the free storage service such as Dropbox, Skydrive, or SugarSync can do the job, but make sure your library isn’t larger than the free storage limits.
For most folks that want a fairly painless process that allows you the options of streaming the library or downloading some or all of the songs, I like Google Play’s Music offering (http://music.google.com).
Google allows you to store up to 20,000 songs from iTunes, Windows Media Player or any folder that contains standard music files. Once you upload your library, you can listen to it from any computer or mobile device via any web browser.
The key feature that makes this a more elegant solution, especially for non-techies, is the Music Manager app (http://goo.gl/w5tHj) that runs in the background on your computer and keeps your online library updated.
Once the initial upload is completed, which can take some time depending upon how large your library is and how fast your upload speed is, you simply log into your Google Play account at work and start listening to any of the songs you have at home.
You can also do the same thing from your smartphone or tablet, regardless of which platform it’s on, just by using the web browser to go to http://music.google.com (Android devices can download an app).
If your workplace frowns on streaming media sites because they eat up bandwidth, you can use the Music Manager to download the entire library or selectively download songs from the Google Play Music web interface (right-click on songs you select to download them).
If you created playlists in iTunes or Windows Media Player, they get uploaded as well, so you don’t have to re-create them in the Google Play library.
There are lots of other alternatives, but this has worked best for me especially when my wife wants a song that she hears on one of my playlists.
• Ken Colburn is president of Data Doctors Computer Services. Readers may send questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.