How to Copy Music from an iPod to a Windows Vista PC

Transferring files to an iPod is easy using either iTunes or Winamp, but if something happens to your computer's music library, you'll find that those programs offer no help in copying the music from your iPod back to a Windows Vista PC. However, you can use Windows Explorer to make a copy of the music files on your iPod.

If there’s any chance that your iPod has ever been attached to the computer that you want to use to store your music library, you must turn off the iPod's automatic sync feature before you try to copy the files. If you don't turn off this feature, iTunes could "assist" you by deleting all of the songs on your iPod.

  1. Make sure that iTunes isn’t running and that your iPod is unplugged.

  2. Choose Start→Music.

    Windows Explorer shows you the Music folder.

  3. Press Alt and then choose Tools→Folder Options. Click the View tab. Select the Show Hidden Files and Folders option. (While you’re here, if you haven’t done so already, uncheck the Hide Extensions for Known File Types box.) Click OK.

    That forces Vista to show you the hidden files and folders on your iPod.

  4. Plug your iPod into your PC.

    The standard Vista AutoPlay notification should appear.

  5. Click the Open Folder to View Files Using Windows Explorer link.

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    Explorer comes up with a list of the folders on the iPod.

  6. Double-click iPod_Control. Then click the Music folder and drag and drop it onto your desktop.

    This new Music folder contains a bunch of oddly named folders, probably called F00, F01, and so on.

    If you have a lot of music on your iPod, this process could take some time.

  7. Right-click the new Music folder on your desktop, choose Rename, and rename it to something easy to remember, such as Music from iPod.

  8. Unplug your iPod now.

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    Your PC now holds a backup of all the songs on your iPod.

If you go poking around that Music from iPod folder, you discover that all the songs from your iPod are there, but the files have weird names like JDAT.mp3, and they’re all scattered around in various folders, willy-nilly. You'll need to manually rename the files or restore the iTunes library in order to bring some sense of normalcy to the file names.

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