The major flaw of iPod and iTunes

I have a bone to pick with Apple. I have fallen in love with my iPod(s) and I use iTunes to keep myself synched, but I have discovered a major flaw in the chain of musical goodness: I can’t simple move songs from my iPod into my iTunes library.

“But Seth,” you’re asking, “don’t you use your iTunes library exclusively as your resource for putting music on your iPod?” Yes and No.

Since both Jenn and I use the iPod and since I bring it with us on all trips, holidays, excursions to the mall and work, I’ve connected it to no fewer than four computers (and hence four different iTunes installs) in the past 60 days. What does this mean? It means I’ve grabbed a little bit of music from a lot of people. Music, it seems, that is stuck on the iPod and can’t be moved to my home PC’s iTunes.

Lost? Lemme explain.

The iTunes/iPod relationship is symbiotic. The iPod suckles at the teat of iTunes and gives nothing back in return. The design of this system is construed to thwart “piracy”, “p2p”, “filesharing” and “scabies”. I made that last one up.

So yesterday I was in the unenviable position of having a good bit of music “trapped” on my iPod with no way to retrieve it. I say trapped because, by design, the iPod can’t be seen by Windows as another drive, which is technically what it is. Sure, it gets assigned a drive letter (K:, in my case), but I couldn’t see any of the mp3 or AAC files on it. Jenn could see them in a hidden folder which I later found as well, but all the songs from the other iTunes/computers was noticably absent.

What was I to do? I did what most innovative and desperate people do: search Google.

I found several pieces of software that were marginally helpful. Here they are in download order:

  1. Anapod
  2. This program wouldn’t let me copy files from iPod to PC in the trial, but it looked very slick. It also looked comprehensive enough to be a complete iTunes replacement for Windows.

  3. iPodCopy
  4. This is where I struck gold. A little bare bones, but I could copy 40 songs from the iPod to my PC without purchasing the full version. Almost enough to fix my situation.

  5. iPod Liberator
  6. Very Windows-looking and only allowed 5 songs to be copied without purchasing the full version. Just enough to remedy my malady.

So I fixed the problem for the time being, but isn’t it a terribly stupid problem to have? Who is Apple (via iTunes and the iPod) to determine how I move music (or other files) with their portable hard drive? If I can put it (any file) on there I ought to be able to get it back and do with it what I please!

What if my computer had crashed and the hard drive had corrupted? What then? Or what happens when I upgrade computers and my old hard drive and iTunes install don’t transfer? Can they?

In any event I’m really disappointed, though neither shocked nor appalled, that Apple did things this way. I really enjoy my iPod and the iTunes software, but it isn’t perfect. Maybe next time I’ll get an Archos or a Toshiba. Until then, I’m waiting for the iPod to resynch with the rescued music so I can listen to it. Guh!

7 thoughts on “The major flaw of iPod and iTunes

  1. I found this to be problematical when I moved to the US and left my iTunes library in the UK, the best way around it is to make iTunes see the iPod as a hard drive and update it manually… And if you’re using Windows, make that show hidden files and folders, go to the iPod via My Computer and it’s all there under iPod Controls/Music

    Free and easy…

  2. Ran into the same dilemna shortly after getting my iPod a couple years ago. I, too, used iPodCopy or some variation to copy my tunes back and forth. Much like yourself, I was pretty irritated that I had to turn to some 3rd party hack to simply copy music but I came to the following realizations:
    1. The inability to copy from-iPod-to-PC probably has something to due with the licensing deal with the music labels. Apple can “reassure” the labels that the music can only go to the iPod and nowhere else
    2. Apple maintains you should back-up all of your music. The iPod is supposed to be a music player and not a music storage device.

    Other than that, I would love iTunes to incorporate a multi-iTunes iPod feature, but I’m sure there are a lot of licensing deals to worry about… grr.

  3. JP says:

    I use a CreativeLabs ZenXtra, which made me regret not buying an iPod. But I use the equivalent to Anapod and never again will I ever use Cretaive’s software. I recommend you give it another shot.

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