ITunes library on external hard drive that nots always connected.....

Can anyone help please?
I have a laptop running Win XP and i have the latest version of itunes. I want to keep all my music on an external hard drive because i can't fit it on the laptop. This in itself isnt a problem - i have all the files on the external HDD and have set iTunes up and everything is fine HOWEVER because i have a laptop, i'm not going to lug my external drive with me everywhere. So i am getting problems where when i do plug the external drive in and run iTunes - it comes up with question marks against EVERYTHING and i have to effectively add the library file again. Surely there is some other way round this?! can i not keep all my music on the external drive then just connect when i need to? why is itunes not happy with this? i dont use itunes unless i am connected to the external drive.
Many thanks for any help!

As long as you don't launch iTunes until after the external hard drive is mounted, you shouldn't have a problem. I've been using such a set up for years.

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