Windows XP Digital Music: Common Problems with Portable Audio Players

People make a few common mistakes when they're dealing with hard drive and flash memory portable audio players. Everybody makes them, and you will, too. This article can help you be better prepared to handle the hangups, and you'll waste less time getting back to listening to your music.

Starting off on the right foot

Follow your manufacturer's directions for starting and prepping your portable audio player when you first get it. Make sure that you install the recommended software and have the minimum required specifications for your computer to make it work. If you have everything in place in the beginning, your journey will be that much easier.

My controls aren't working!

Most likely, this means that your lock switch is on. Most players have a function that allows you to turn off the controls so that you can put the player in your pocket without worrying about accidentally turning the player off, skipping tracks, or changing the volume. It's a handy feature, but it can sometimes throw you when you first try to change something on your player. Just make sure that the lock control is off (check your owner's manual if you're unsure of where it is), and you should be back to normal.

My player doesn't turn on!

You've spent a lot of money on this player, and now you can't even get it to turn on! Relax. Your problem can probably be solved with one of a couple simple solutions. First, make sure that the lock control is off. Second, make sure that you're working with a good battery. If you have a rechargeable unit, plug it in and see if the additional power makes a difference. If you have a replaceable-battery unit, go ahead and put in a fresh battery.

You may run into a different situation. Imagine this: You're using your iPod to provide music for a gathering of people, along with another CD player. You go back to the iPod after playing a track from a CD to find that your portable audio player won't turn on. The lock switch is off, but you can't get any response from the iPod, no matter which control you use.

Visions of technical support and warranty clauses run through your head until you recall the iPod's Reset function. The thing to remember in this case is that all operating systems and hard drives may sometimes require a reset. It's the same reason manufacturers build the function into computers and Windows XP, and hard drive players have the same function built into them. Check your user's manual for the correct reset sequence for your hard drive player. When you execute that, the player should be up and running again, with your data intact. If that doesn't work, try it again. If you're still working on it minutes later like an ER doctor working on a patient, you may want to return to those visions of technical support and warranty clauses.

My computer doesn't recognize my player!

So you've plugged your player into your computer, expecting to hear the familiar Windows XP chime of welcome for a new device. After waiting for more than a minute, nothing is there. Don't panic yet; some more simple solutions exist to getting your device working.

If your system doesn't chime to acknowledge the addition of a new external device (and you're sure you have your speakers on), the first step is to check the Safely Remove Hardware icon in the lower-right corner of your screen for the name of your external device. Double-click this icon to bring up the menu of hardware devices.

Make sure that the device isn't listed in this menu. If it's not, make sure that the USB or FireWire cable is solidly connected to both the computer and the portable audio device. Second, make sure that the portable audio device is turned on. Most computers don't recognize a device that isn't powered on when it's connected to the computer. Those two troubleshooting tips should correct the vast majority of your problems.

If your device is listed but you can't get the software to recognize your device, make sure that you've installed everything the manufacturer listed in its instructions. Without those installations, the computer can't work properly with your portable audio device.

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