Q: My iPod is filled with songs from a friend’s Mac. When I plug it into my iTunes library it says I must Restore it in order to connect it to my PC. However, this will erase all of my music. How can I copy the contents of my iPod to my computer then restore the iPod for PC and then copy back and add additional music from my own iTunes library?
A: Traditional iPod models actually connect to your computer as if they were external storage devices like a hard drive or USB memory key. As a result, the iPod uses a file system that is formatted for the host computer’s operating system; FAT32 for Windows PCs and HFS+ for Mac OS X.
The problem is that Windows can’t read a Mac-formatted disk without some additional help from third-party software, which is why iTunes simply sees it as an unformatted or corrupted iPod and offers to restore it for you. If you don’t have any data to recover from the iPod, restoring it is normally fine, as it reformats the iPOd for the Windows FAT32 file system.
In this case, however, since there is data that you want to retrieve from the iPod, you’ll need to either find a Mac to read it on, or look to a third-party software package such as MediaFour’s MacDrive, which allows Windows to read any Mac-formatted disk, including an iPod. MacDrive is commercial software that retails for $50, but the company also provides a free, 5-day trial version that you can download to make sure that it will work for you.
Once you have MacDrive installed, you will be able to read the content on the iPod as if it were formatted with Windows in the first place, and can recover the content using any third-party tool designed for this purpose. See our guide on Copying Content from your iPod to your Computer for more information.