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iPod shows no content

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Q: I recently purchased a new computer and followed all the directions for using my iPod nano to transfer my music library from my old PC to my new one. In doing so, all of my data on my iPod nano now shows as orange “Other” data when plugged into either computer, and no music will play on the nano. When I followed the directions to transfer the data to my new computer, none of the music is visible in iTunes but I can see it in my music folder in my documents and it looks okay, but I cannot play music through my iPod nano or in iTunes on my new PC.

- Kathryn

A: Chances are that your iPod nano suddenly showing your content as “Other” has nothing directly to do with switching your library to a new computer, but is rather an unfortunate coincidence. The iPod stores information about your music and other media content in a database on the device itself, and both the iPod and iTunes read this database in order to determine where you content is. If this database is damaged or erased, then neither iTunes nor the iPod will be able to locate your media content, even though it’s still physically stored on the device. In this case, iTunes sees that some space is being taken up by something but labels it as “Other” since it has no idea what it is.

In terms of the situation with your iTunes library, it sounds like you may have copied the media files themselves over to your new computer, but missed copying the iTunes library database, or did not put it in the correct location. Similar to the iPod itself, iTunes uses a database to catalog the media content on your computer. This database contains information about the media files themselves as well as other data such as your playlists, iPod sync settings, and so forth.

If you still have the old computer available, your best option is to re-transfer your iTunes library from that computer, making sure that you get all of the necessary files in the process. Our article on Transferring your iTunes Library provides detailed instructions on how to do this.

If you can get your library transferred over and working properly, you can simply “Restore” your iPod back to factory settings and then re-sync your music and other content back on from iTunes. Failing this, however, it is also possible to access the iPod in “Disk Mode” and locate the files and copy them back from your iPod onto your computer. You could then create a brand new iTunes library and reimport these tracks into it. More information on how to do this can be found in our iPod 201 article, Copying Content from your iPod to your Computer.

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