Q: I was listening to my iPod, and it froze on me. When I restarted it by holding down the appropriate buttons, it came back without a single song in its library. Is it really possible that it erased its entire hard drive in a single crash? I really hope not: I manually manage my music, and I don’t have a copy on my computer.
A: Stephanie, excellent news: there’s a very slim chance that your music is gone from your iPod.
In fact, if you go into the iPod’s “Settings → About” menu, you’re likely to find that the iPod reports an amount of hard drive space available that indicates your music is still there—somewhere.
The likely cause of the problem is that your iPod’s internal database has become corrupted. Luckily, software developers have recognized this as a fairly common problem, and written utilities that help fix it. YamiPod, a free multipurpose iPod utility for both Windows and Mac users, includes such a feature that has worked for us on several occasions.
Download YamiPod, and follow their directions for repairing your iPod here.
If that doesn’t work, it may still be possible to save your music by copying it to your hard drive, and reimporting it into iTunes, starting over (you’ll lose playcounts and ratings this way). To do so, begin by enabling the view of hidden files in Windows Explorer or the Mac’s Finder, put your iPod in “Enable Disc Use” mode, and locate the music files in the folders contained in your iPod’s “iPod_Control/iTunes/Music” folder. Copy these back to your iTunes library, restore your iPod, and begin anew.