Recovering unlisted media content from iPod

Q: On recently loading some tracks from iTunes to my iPod all my existing audio files (29 GB) moved from the audio capacity section of the iPod memory to the “Other” section which means I cannot hear nor see any of my music. As most of the music was loaded from CD into iTunes I have tried to use free software to recover them but it seems these programs will only look for actual music files to transfer from iPod to PC and my files seem to be sitting in “Other” on my iPod therefore the software will not pick them up. If I restore my iPod I will lose all of my music on the iPod and as I no longer have my CDs on iTunes this will mean a complete reload of 29 GB! Can you suggest software that will search through the “other” section in my iPod and enable the data to be transferred back to my PC or software that can transfer “other” data to audio files on my iPod. Thanks.

– Don

A: It sounds like what has happened in this case is that the iPod database which indexes your music has become corrupted, but the good news is that all of your music files are likely still present on your iPod in their original format. They are simply being listed as “Other” since iTunes no longer sees them listed in the iPod’s database.

Unfortunately, since iTunes cannot see them listed, this means that most of the iPod recovery programs cannot see them either, since these applications rely on the same databases in order to recover your music into a usable form. There are a couple of tools that can be used to do a recovery of these files, but there’s likely no point in resorting to third-party software in this case, as this is something you can easily do yourself right through Windows Explorer.

Your music files themselves are located on your iPod in a directory called iPod_ControlMusic, and you can easily access this by putting your iPod in Disk Mode and accessing it through Windows Explorer. The iPod_Control folder is a hidden folder, so you will need to ensure that you are displaying hidden folders in Windows in order to see it, but once you’ve done that, you can just browse into it and copy all of the files from your iPod directly back to your computer’s hard disk, and then import them from there into iTunes.

Note that the files themselves will not likely have any meaningful names. These are organized in a file structure to be efficient for the iPod to read, not necessarily for a human to figure out track names or other information like album and artist. Don’t worry, however, as all of the metadata is still embedded in the file, and iTunes can read this information and sort it out for you when you reimport these tracks.

You can find detailed instructions on how to do all of this in our iPod 201 article on Copying Content from your iPod to your Computer. Specifically, you want to read the section on the “Brute Force Approach.”

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