Q: I have an original iPod nano and my library is on a laptop that is now broken and completely unrecoverable. I have bought a new laptop which has Windows 7 and want to know how I get my library onto my new computer without having access to the old one? I have read your forums and want to understand whether I need to go to Apple first and download iTunes to my new laptop and then connect my existing iPod – will this automatically download my songs? Also, will it copy everything across including the songs that I have added from CDs and purchased songs and if not, how do I do this to ensure everything goes across? I really want to get this sorted and dont want to get it wrong and risk losing my songs altogether!
A: There are a number of ways to go about doing this, and the short answer is that unless you have only music purchased from iTunes stored on your iPod you will need to look to a third-party tool that can copy your content from your iPod back to your computer.
You will need to download iTunes and install it at some point, although not all third-party tools require iTunes to be installed—many will simply copy the music back to a folder on your computer and you can then import it into iTunes yourself. Connecting your iPod to your computer with iTunes installed will attempt to sync your iPod, and if you have authorized your computer for your iTunes Store account will also offer you the opportunity to transfer purchased items from your iPod back to your computer.
However, this will only transfer items that you have purchased from the iTunes Store and will not transfer music you have imported from your own CDs or other sources. Further, it will also not copy back playlists.
See our tutorial on Copying Content from your iPod to your Computer for a detailed look at how to do this and some of the options that are available.