Recovering iPod onto a computer with an existing iTunes library

Q: I had my iTunes library stored on my laptop which broke. I wanted to pull the music from my iPod to another computer, but the computer already has somebody else’s iTunes library on it. Can I recover my music without wiping out their library?

– Melissa

A: Yes, this is definitely possible. Most of the iPod recovery tools that we discuss in our iPod 201 article, Copying Content from your iPod to your Computer are primarily designed to recover your content back to your local hard drive and then allow you to import it into your iTunes library yourself. Those that do provide the ability to rebuild your iTunes library offer this as an additional option, so you can choose to recover either just the individual media files, or you can choose to recover your information back into your iTunes library.

If recovering information such as playlists, ratings and play counts is important to you, you will need to rebuild your iTunes library as part of this process. Fortunately, however, it is possible to do this without affecting the existing iTunes library on the computer. The safest way to do this is to simply create an additional user account on this computer for yourself. iTunes stores its library on a per-user account basis, so each user account gets its own library. If you create a new user account, you are basically using a brand new iTunes library.

Alternatively, if this is not feasible, you can create a new iTunes library under the same user account simply by holding down the SHIFT key (Windows) or OPT key (Mac) when starting iTunes. iTunes will provide you with an option to create a new library and you can then restore your content to that library rather than the original one on that computer. You can later switch back to the original iTunes library simply by holding down SHIFT or OPT again when starting iTunes and selecting the “Choose Library” option.

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