Monday, February 20, 2012

iTunes Playlist havoc - where did they go?

(The moral of this story - be very careful about following old web recipes for iTunes hackery. The app has changed a great deal in recent releases.)

The original:

It's been a long time since iTunes caused me much trouble, but something's gone wrong recently. Several playlists were missing. I followed the standard procedure for playlist recreation (reference deleted, see [1]). I didn't recover anything, but now most of my many, many Smart Albums are broken.

Be interesting to find out if this is simply my bad luck or something went bad in a recent iTunes update.

Nothing for it but to slowly clean up, wistfully parting with more more hours feeding the beast. I'll try restoring from an a month old playlist XML file via Time Machine and see if I get better results.

I suspect they're not long for the world anyway. Apple is overdue to gut iTunes, and replace it with some simple app that will omit most of what I use.

Update: Oh, great. TIme Machine does not backup iTunes Library.xml. Good thing I have offsite backups using Carbon Copy Cloner. Did I mention Apple gives me hives? In theory we're not supposed to need it, but in this case without that file I have no Playlists at all. Certainly feels like something is broken....

[1] Updateb: It got worse. All my apps were missing too, and all my purchases. At that point I bailed. I pulled my CCC backup to protect it, then told Time Machine to restore iTunes Library, iTunes Library Extras.itdb and iTunes Library Genius.itdb from 1 hour before I started messing around. Things returned to normal; iTunes Library.xml was recreated as it should be. I'm still missing a couple of Playlists, but at least I haven't lost everything.

So I can't say what happened to a few of my ITunes Playlists, but I can say one should be very cautious about trying to recreate a playlist using the method of removing iTunes Library and importing from iTunes Library.xml.

Updatec: Looks like there's more material missing - including several audiobooks! .... Time Machine shows everything was there an hour ago. It's almost as though, when I was trying to restore my playlists, iTunes actually went and removed ... content. I've never seen anything quite like this. I am going to run some disk check software then try restoring my entire iTunes Library from last night's disk clone.

Updated: I think I figured out what happened to the Audiobooks -- and probably other content. It went something like this:

  1. During my ill-fated attempts to restore the wee missing Playlists, I caused iTunes to review all content without any genre settings I'd made.
  2. During the review iTunes decided that some old Audiobooks taken from CD and specified as audiobook, were in fact music. iTunes reorganized them into music (I found them there using Spotlight.)
  3. When I restored the iTunes database it didn't know about the new location, so the content went missing.

I finally restored from a backup of the previous night and brought everything back. I recreated the mysteriously lost playlists. The loss was never explained.

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