Wednesday, August 13, 2008

The day the music (could have) died.

"There's nothing we can do," said the Genius at the Apple Store, "except to restore the iPod to —"

"Yeah, we know about that," we told her. "That's what the error message said on the MacBook, too. But the iPod still knows that it's got over 90 gig of music and movies on its drive. The files just don't show up in the directory."

The Genius smiled pleasantly. "There's nothing we can do," she began, "except to —"

We had a train to catch, so we thanked her and left. And herewith, WB's first (and probably last) hi-tech how-to guide for
not letting the Geniuses at your local Apple Store destroy your music by restoring your iPod.

When the iPod says "No Music" on the Music menu and "No Movies" on the Movies menu, but it also shows that a huge amount of its storage space has been used up, then it's basically full of crap. So, don't panic. Instead, do this:

1. Back up your iPod files weekly. Then you won't even have to read beyond this sentence.

1. Okay, since you forgot to do that, you need your computer to show invisible files. For the Mac,
a freeware application like MainMenu or TinkerTool will do the job nicely. For the PC... well, we can't help you. But we're sure that Google (or the new and impressive Cuil) will turn something up for your computer, too.

2. With the app (or PC option) set to show invisible (or 'hidden') files, double-click the iPod icon on the desktop. Magically, the "Music" folder that you couldn't see before in standard view is now in plain sight.

3. Copy all of the files in that folder to another folder on your desktop. Then go see a show. In our case, 13,279 songs and 60+ movies and videos took about six hours to transfer. Don't forget Photos and Games, if you have any. Copy them, too. (Movies are in the Music folder, labeled as ".m4a" and ".m4v" files. They may need to be re-converted for iPod use.)

4. NOW you can go ahead and click that nasty little Restore button. When the iPod is all scrubbed and happy, drag and drop your copied files (which are still technically invisible) onto the iTunes window. All of the labels and even the album artwork will be preserved, but each subfolder will have to be copied over by hand, with a loooooong wait for processing between each subfolder. (Good move, Apple, getting rid of blazing-quick FireWire for the iPod!) Be ready to set aside a day or two for that tedious process, depending on the number of files being re-installed.

The question then becomes, why would Apple hide people's media files from them and want customers to simply erase the songs and movies they've purchased from the iTunes Store and start the collection all over again? That ju$t doe$n't make any $en$e to u$....

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