You may need to reinstall iTunes if your hard drive crashes or if you're having problems with your computer. If you suffer a hard drive crash, the best thing to do is to restore everything from a backup of your hard drive. If you don't have a backup, you'll need to reinstall everything from scratch. For iTunes, that means downloading a copy from Apple's Web site and following the installation instructions. That's simple enough, but restoring your music library can get tricky.
Rebuilding Your iTunes Library
There are a few different methods available for you to try to restore your music library.
The first method to try is to use your iPod to restore the music library to your computer. If you are lucky, your iPod contains all or a majority of your iTunes music library, so you can copy the files from the iPod back onto your computer. You can use a utility program like Music Rescue, CopyTrans or iPod Copy to restore the files. Be sure to do this before you try to reinstall iTunes, otherwise you will erase the contents of your iPod.
Once you restore your music from the iPod to the computer, simply reauthorize the computer to play purchased music for the iTunes store.
You can also try to restore the music via the iPod without using a utility program. If a majority of the music in your library consists of songs purchased from iTunes, and you use Version 7 of iTunes or later, reinstall the software and use the "transfer purchases from iPod" function under the File menu.
Using Your iPod as a USB Drive
If you have a lot of music on your iPod from CDs, the iPod for Disk Use method can restore it. Note that this only works with files stored on your iPod. Data that's lost on your hard drive can't be recovered unless it's duplicated on your iPod.
Reinstall iTunes, then select Edit>Preferences>Advanced>General. Select "Copy files to iTunes music folder when adding to library" and select "Keep iTunes music folder organized," then click "Ok."
Connect your iPod to the computer, but as you are connecting it hold down the Shift and Control keys; this disables auto sync. If the box for auto sync still pops open, select "No."
Next, go to File>Add Folder. Open "My Computer" and click on your iPod. The files should transfer to iTunes.
After you recover your songs, you can try to rebuild your playlists using the Recover Playlist tool. This tool doesn't import songs, but it does search iTunes based on information in your iPod and assigns the songs to the right playlist. Recover Playlists is found on the Tools menu.
Other Ways of Restoring Songs
If you cannot use your iPod to rebuild your music library, you can take your hard drive to a data-recovery specialist to see if you can restore your music folder. It is possible that the folder is in an undamaged part of the hard drive.
If you're using a newer version of iTues, songs purchased from the iTunes store should still be available in your account. When you reconfigure the iTunes store, be sure to provide your original account information, including username and password.
After you recover your music, make sure to start making backup copies of your music library, either to a thumb drive, blank CDs or an external hard drive. This will protect your music the next time something happens to your computer.
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