Yeah, I realize I'm probably screwed
December 28, 2009 11:16 AM   Subscribe

How can I fix unplayable MP3s recovered from a formatted hard drive?

A couple weeks ago I posted this question about the total loss of my iTunes library. I was looking into data recovery options at the time. Update: Due to a poorly designed Western Digital utility (and my own ignorance/anxiety) the drive containing all my media got formatted. I found Stellar Phoenix Macintosh Data Recovery and a scan of the disk in free trial mode revealed fewer than half of my files, but at this point that's way better than nothing. Their names had been turned to full or partial gibberish like 53568412544329.mp3 or Bohemian-Rhap2364015779.mp3. But Stellar Phoenix provided partial previews of the files, actual audio I could listen to and know that my music was intact.

I put up the $100 and bought the program and set about undeleting the MP3s. Mission accomplished, now they're sitting in a folder on my laptop. Problem is, I can't play them at all. iTunes, QuickTime Player, Audacity, nothing will even open them. The filenames end in the .mp3 file extension and the right icon is displayed in the Finder. The file sizes look correct. I get error messages informing me that they're not a known file format.

I'm on the verge of giving up but I still believe there might be a way to save these files. Since Stellar Phoenix could preview them, the data structure must still be fundamentally intact, right? How can I convince my computer that they're viable MP3s? I'm totally down with AppleScripting or Terminal hacking or whatever it takes.
posted by The Winsome Parker Lewis to Computers & Internet (3 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
None of the MP3s work, not even the ones you previewed? I think you need to hassle the makers of Stellar Phoenix.
posted by Good Brain at 11:25 AM on December 28, 2009

Will VLC play them? It could be that only parts of the file have been recovered, where itunes et al are expecting the full file to be there. VLC handles streaming quite well, so you might have more luck.
posted by Solomon at 12:07 PM on December 28, 2009

if you pull up the terminal and run the "file" command, what type of file does it report?

for example:

# file 01\ Grand\ Island\,\ Neb..mp3
01 Grand Island, Neb..mp3: MP3 file with ID3 version 2.4.0 tag

MP3Diags is an awesome program for fixing problems with/in mp3s, and would be my immediate recommendation...but it's more-or-less Linux/Windows only. (link to fink package for OS X)
posted by namewithoutwords at 12:33 PM on December 28, 2009

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