Re-syncing iPod after hard drive replacement

Q: I have just had my iPod hard drive replaced because it was broken. I want to know if I will be able to just hook up my iPod to my computer, open my iTunes file and update my iPod or if this will delete my music. I am having all sorts of computer problems at the moment and I am not computer savvy and do not know how to back up my music files. I am worried about losing all my music when I connect the iPod to the computer. Am I safe or is there something I need to do to protect my music?

– Stacey

A: Since you just had your iPod’s hard drive replaced, presumably there is no content on the iPod itself, and it is your music in your iTunes library that you are concerned about.

For the most part, synchronization of music and other media content with an iPod is a one-way process—content is synchronized from your iTunes library to your iPod. The only information that comes back into the iTunes library from the iPod is information on ratings, last played times, and play counts for tracks that have already been synchronized from iTunes itself in the first place.

The concerns you may have heard about music being lost when connecting your iPod generally results from the opposite scenario: Where your music is on your iPod, but your iTunes library on your computer has been damaged or erased. In this case, it is possible for your empty iTunes library to overwrite the content on your iPod, but even this will only happen without warning in very specific circumstances.

In your case, however, connecting your empty iPod to your computer will have no adverse affect on the music that is already on your computer. Essentially, iTunes will simply see this as a brand new iPod, and run through the iPod Setup Assistant that would have appeared when you connected your iPod for the first time. If you then select “Automatic” synchronization, iTunes will simply reload the content from your iTunes library back onto your iPod, in much the same way it would have done before your iPod hard drive was replaced.

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