An Article from Aaron's Article ArchiveiPod Shuffle Woes (Not Detected by iTunes)
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iPod Shuffle Woes (Not Detected by iTunes)
Thursday, 05 May 2005 7:35 AM MDT
I recently bought two iPod Shuffle music players, one for myself, and another as a gift for my little sister. I've really enjoyed my iPod Shuffle the past few days. When I commented about music here, I was listening to my new iPod Shuffle.
I'm also a fan of the iTunes Music Store and have been since October 2003, and have spent over $100 buying music from Apple since then (and will likely spend more now that I've got an iPod Shuffle).
It should be noted that I'm not a fan of DRM ("digital rights management") of any sort, since it's really just code for not allowing me to exercise my fair use rights on music I've purchased, and also code for causing annoying pains trying to do perfectly valid things when the DRM gets in the way. However Apple's iTunes has done a better job than anyone else out there at reducing DRM annoyances to a minimum, to a tolerable level.
Yesterday night I was helping my sister connect her iPod Shuffle to the computer she uses. She also uses iTunes and has like many of my family members do since I told them how much I liked iTunes for music management, playback, and for buying online music. I sat down at the computer after she'd finished compiling an iTunes playlist in anticipation of transferring it to her new iPod Shuffle.
All was not well, however. The computer in question has an unusual installation of Windows XP Pro. When I installed XP over the Christmas holidays, I decided to install the primary hard drive as drive E: instead of drive C: which is the traditional installation place for Windows XP. This choice has mostly been irrelevant, since the computer works well and all installed applications seem happy. There may have been one or two small buggy utilities that made poor assumptions about which drive Windows XP was installed on, but they were either unimportant, or easily fixed.
This choice also means that removable media like digital camera flash cards or (as I was to discover) iPods like my sister's iPod Shuffle often would appear as a removable drive C:, automatically assigned that drive letter by Windows. This uncommon situation has not been a problem.
Until last night, that is. Last night I discovered that the Apple programmers who wrote the iTunes and the iPod computer software for Windows XP made a very poor assumption. They assumed that whenever an iPod was connected, it would never appear connected to Windows as drive C: because that's where Apple's programmers assumed Windows XP "should" be installed. Oops! Sorry, Apple, but that's a bad assumption that you never should have made. It's a bug, a bug in iTunes and the iPod Updater software that I was previously unaware of.
The problem was whenever I plugged in my sister's iPod Shuffle, while Windows XP would correctly recognize it and connect it as removable storage media, Apple's software would not see it. It remained totally invisible, unrecognized by iTunes, not recognized by the iPod Updater either.
After reinstalling iTunes and the iPod software many times, trying slightly different tactics each time, yet still the same symptom, I spent a goodly amount of time searching the web. I found others describing similar problems, but no solutions to any with exactly the same problem.
Then one search finally proved useful. I came across this support document at Apple's web site:
Eeek! The article's suggested solution was not a solution at all. The article suggested that it was wrong for Windows to be installed on a drive other than drive C: and that the fix was to return the computer to the vendor and have Windows installed on drive C:.
Yeah, right! Since I'd build this computer and done the installtion myself, I was acutely aware of the several days of my time over the Christmas holidays it had taken to get Windows XP installed and the myriad of applications installed and configured for a multi-user Windows XP system where the users are not power users or administrative users. This sort of system configuration is much more secure and less susceptible to virus infections, trojans, and/or worms. If one user gets infected, it is far less likely other users of the computer will have problems.
Now Apple was telling me that if my sister wanted to use her iPod Shuffle, I was going to have to spend several days backing up all the user data, wiping the hard drive (the only way to get a good, clean install), and reinstall and reconfigure everything from scratch, configuring the applications for each user once again and restoring their data.
No way was I going to do that! The $99.99 iPod Shuffle would be returned to the store and I would investigate alternative MP3 players before I'd undertake such a Sisyphean task.
Fortunately, once I knew that the problem was a bug in Apple's software due to a drive lettering assumption, I suspected that all I needed to do was tell Windows to assign a different drive letter to the iPod Shuffle and perhaps iTunes would then recognize it.
A few quick Google searches took me to a web page with instructions about using Microsoft's Disk Management console to assign a different drive letter to the removable media (the iPod). I plugged in the iPod again, let Windows mount it as drive C:, fired up the management console, and changed the drive letter from C: to F:.
The test came when I fired up iTunes. I waited... There! There it was! The iPod showed up! Hooray!
That was far, far easier than Apple's foolish recommended work-around (reinstalling Windows).
This morning I sent Apple a report telling them of my trouble, and of the solution I found. I hope other iPod Shuffle users who have non-standard Windows installations can use this information.
This morning I also found an excellent web site that gives step-by-step instructions for how to change a drive letter with Windows XP. Rather than repeat the instructions here, if you're interested, just visit the following web site:this site too.
You don't know how insanely frustrated I was last night before I figured out this work-around. You don't know how elated I was once I knew it worked and my sister's playlist was merrily loading.
I want to be very clear about one thing, however. This is an Apple software bug. My digital camera software was written intelligently enough to recognize my camera's compact flash card even when it appeared as drive C:. It shouldn't be too difficult for Apple to fix this bug, so that future users of iTunes and the iPod software can enjoy Apple's otherwise excellent software on Windows XP machines with unusual configurations.
Please fix this, Apple! And please update your document to include this work-around. I surely would appreciate it, and I'm sure others in my situation will as well.