Sunday, December 27, 2009

iTunes Damage Control

modified cc image by bmb at flickr

iPodAlarmPullSo while the majority of issues related to my desktop systems volume failure have been rebuilt, there was one  glaring hole facing me.

The system volume that got blown-out just so happened to be the one that held all our iTunes music and video files.

Bummer. REAL Bummer

Fortunately, I had many fortunate things working in my favor when it came to recovery and rebuilding of the years worth of iTunes data and purchases that had accumulated.

No, I hadn’t yet installed the latest iTunes version that allows for backups/restorations.  I didn’t even know that was a feature until I started this rebuild.

No, the biggest thing that have saved me are patience, my original 40 GB 1st generation iPod “brick” device that I synced all our music to, regardless if it was my interest or Lavie and Alvis’s, and the iPod Nano’s that the girls use have all the movie/video files on them, and they haven’t been able to connect them to the downed system, the files they contain are tucked safely away there as well.

So what did I do?

  • Connected my iPod before reloading iTunes on the rebuilt system, and made an iTunes recovery folder on my new partition.
  • I then copied all my iTunes user files from my recovered user profile when I recovered the system into that folder.  This kept the original files “safe” just in case I mucked something up and needed to try again.  For that I just found the correct path/subfolder location in this What are the iTunes library files? Apple article.
  • I then connected my iPod and browed it to find the “iPod_Control” folder and copied that sucker (and all contents over to the iTunes recovery folder as well.  That was after spending some time reading this excellent iLounge post Copying Content from your iPod to your Computer - The Definitive Guide.  Disconnecting the iPod device when done.
  • Then I installed iTunes.
  • Then I launched iTunes and let it do some initial startup.  Once it settled down I tweaked the options to get it to not do any automatic synchronizations with iPods when attached.
  • I then shut down iTunes and killed any associated background services with Process Explorer just to be safe.
  • I then copied my recovered “copy” of the original iTunes user profile folders over into the corresponding location on my new user profile.
  • I re-launched iTunes and let it figure out (which it did instantly) that it needed to rebuild the list of items there.  Of course, if you clicked on any song, it tossed an error as it couldn’t find the actual media file that went with it.  Not a big deal, yet.
  • Now I had to restore the actual media files themselves.  There are a number of excellent and full-featured for-buy ($) programs that can do this.  However I knew of a few wonderful free ones that offered to back up and restore you iTunes library and songs on the iPod itself.
    • SharePod - (freeware) – this is the one I chose to use.  It has a easy to use GUI interface, can actually replace iTunes when run as a “standalone player/manager” directly from your iPod when connected to a system, and was rock-solid in performance for me.
    • (YamiPod) - Yet another iPod manager - (freeware) – another great standalone iPod player but also has a number of useful device and music library management tools as well.
    • iDump - (freeware) – Not updated for a while but it does the basic task of transferring songs off your iPod to a PC.  Very simple and no-frills.  Portable so good to keep on the iPod in case of an emergency

  • Sharepod quickly moved my music files from the copied iPodControl” folder back into the correct location for iTunes.
  • Next I found I had a bunch of duplicate entries in my library.  I added a “date added” column and sorted by this, then deleted all the entries that were before the date I added in the real media files again.
  • I also had to clean up the imported play biggie..
  • Finally, the “Purchased” folder still wouldn’t associate the songs we had bought with the ones I had re-imported.  This confused me for a moment.  Did I have to re-purchase them? Beg Apple to let me redownload them? Nope. They were in my library. Turns out that this folder just is a specialized playlist of sorts that shows which ones you have purchased specifically (Reformated, Backedup iTunes Music Folder, how to restore purchased songs? - iLounge Forums). I just deleted the mess.  All the purchased ones were still present and accounted for.
  • Finally I authorized the computer (About iTunes Store authorization and deauthorization) with my iTunes account and all was well…except for the video files that I still have to pull off the Nanos.
  • Once it is all cleaned up, I’m going to do a back up (How to back up your media in iTunes and Back up your iTunes library by copying to an external hard drive) and tuck it away for safe keeping.  Just in case.

Additional linkage

Lesson learned…

Claus V.

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