During the past few weeks I’ve received a couple of messages from distressed iPod/iTunes users that run along these lines:
iTunes recently removed more than half of my songs. While opening, it read iTunes damaged… and when it opened I lost more than half of my songs and all playlists. Is there any explanation for why and how something like this would happen? I haven’t downloaded any music or any new applications for iTunes. Is there any way that you know of for me to possibly restore my files?
The answer to the two questions contained within are:
Answer One is so waffly because iTunes can go bad not simply because something in its database is corrupted but also because the operating system it runs under [cough— Windows —cough] finds unexpected ways of mucking with it.
I’m the first to admit that when it comes to troubleshooting Windows I’m still in diapers. When one of my Windows apps goes bad I’ll try restarting, try reinstalling it, try using System Restore, and, if none of that works, I retreat to an earlier version of my Windows archive (I run it in a virtualized environment on my Mac, you see) and leave the funky version behind. Real Windows users don’t have that option so if I were on a living and breathing PC, I’d reinstall Windows in the hope that it cleared up the problem.
As for question two, there are ways to get your files back. The first is, be sure that they’re really gone. It’s possible that iTunes thinks they’re gone but they’re still on your hard drive where they’re supposed to be.
On a Mac, iTunes music is stored, by default, in youruserfolder /Music/iTunes/iTunes Music. On a Windows PC, it’s in My Music/iTunes/iTunes Music. If you feel that some of your music is missing, look through those folders to see if it really is gone—using Search or doing it by hand by looking at the names of artists, albums, and tracks. Also check the Trash (Mac) or Recycle Bin (PC) to make sure some or all of your tracks didn’t get trashed.
If the missing music is there but iTunes doesn’t include it in its library, quit iTunes, move the iTunes Library and iTunes Music Library.xml files out of the iTunes folder, launch iTunes, and drag the iTunes Music folder into iTunes to add the content to iTunes library.
If the music is really gone, you can, of course, restore it from your backup…. Yes, I said your backup. The backup you’ve made of your music along with the rest of your important data? You have such a backup, right?
Sigh… of course you don’t. Lots of people fail to back up their data. And, as we accumulate more media (and media such as video that consumes acres of hard drive space), it’s more difficult to find a way to back up all that data. If you have a media library that consumes a terabyte of storage, you need the same kind of storage space for your backup and a lot of people are willing to trust that the bad thing will never happen rather than spend the time and money necessary to create a backup scheme that accommodates this much media.
So, if you haven’t backed up your iTunes library it’s possible that you have much of its contents on your iPod. I’ve outlined the steps for retrieving it (and the playlists it contains) in Moving Music Off the iPod, a helpful little read for which I’ve received several messages that begin “Thanks for saving my bacon!” If your pork product is in similar straits, you’ll likely find it helpful too.