Multiple nested music folders in iTunes, missing music, gah!
August 6, 2013 10:55 AM   Subscribe

While attempting to migrate to a new desktop PC, I discovered that my iTunes library contains multiple, nested "music" directories much like this guy's. Have any MeFites faced and solved this problem?

When I import the files as-is on the new PC, iTunes complains of being unable to locate all (or almost all - I can't be sure) of my non-iTunes Music Store music, which is a lot. I never noticed this on my old PC, so I *think* my music may still be there somewhere, just buried or scattered across multiple disparate versions of the "music\artist\album" directory structure.

I tried making a copy of the whole mess and manually digging through the various layers to find and collocate certain albums in the highest-level folder, and discovered while doing so that in several of the duplicate "music" folder structures the various "artist" and "album" folders do seem empty - worrying, to say the least.

Should I invest dozens of additional hours doing this, or is there a better way? Should I just give up and re-rip my substantial collection of CDs (yet again) or look for other optiosn first? I had a backup copy of my ripped music, but - naturally - the external drive they were on died while I was trying to solve this problem.

Not being at home, I can't describe the exact relationship between the various "music" subdirectories right now, but if it helps, I can do so later on.

Any ideas you can offer are much appreciated. I've always allowed iTunes to organize the library itself (which I tend to assume is the source of the problem), so simply checking that box off now and hoping for the best as is often recommended doesn't seem like a likely solution.
posted by onshi to Computers & Internet (5 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: "...the external drive they were on died while I was trying to solve this problem..."

Oh, I'll just take this opportunity to shake my fist at WD for their evil My Book Essential. The one that died on me here was itself a warranty replacement unit. Never again.
posted by onshi at 11:03 AM on August 6, 2013

Applying the theory that the simplest solution is the best solution, I would do a File Explorer (is that what they still call it in Win?) search for ".mp3", Select All and copy into a new folder. Then create a new itunes library from scratch.

Consider if you have other file formats in your library.

I decided long ago, if it's in my computer it's ephemeral and I enjoy it's utility, but I never rely on it. Much less worrying.

Good luck.
posted by humboldt32 at 2:29 PM on August 6, 2013

Do you still have access to the old PC? If so, this shouldn't be a problem. I used to be a regular on the iLounge forums, and I don't quite understand where that thread is going, but I think the advice is pretty good.

I should note, I'm giving you the best Windows instructions I can while figuring it out on my Mac, but let me know if you need more help.

1. File > Library > Organize Library. Choose "Consolidate files" and, if an option, "Reorganize files in the folder 'iTunes Music'" as well. Hit OK.
2. That process may take some time, but when it's done, you should check the folder listed in Advanced Preferences (Edit > Preferences > Advanced tab) and see if all your media isn't neatly in there in folders.

If that doesn't work, I have other ideas too, but I suspect it might do the trick. The consolidation process will copy any media from, say, your download folder, to the iTunes Music folder, and the organization step will ensure that the directories are laid out the way iTunes likes them.

I would also recommend using this guide to transfer. You could skip the beginning if you don't care about technical stuff.

(edit: if you DON'T have access to the old PC anymore... that "*.mp3" search idea doesn't sound awful. But when you're done adding them, that would be a great time to run the Consolidate Library stuff anyway so this doesn't happen again.)
posted by papayaninja at 2:45 PM on August 6, 2013

I agree with humboldt32 that you should just copy all your files to one new folder. I think iTunes defaults to just naming the file with the song, but I like having the Artist as well. If you want to rename them, there is a great piece of software called Bulk Rename Utility that will allow you to add the folder name to the file names before you move them. It may also let you go up more than one file level and could be a real timesaver. The metadata for these tracks should not be affected, so you could just leave the file names as is.
posted by soelo at 2:48 PM on August 6, 2013

Response by poster: I do still have access to the old PC - the only reason I haven't wiped it is to maximize my latitude solving this issue.

I'll take another crack at it and see if I can make some progress. Thanks for your suggestions.
posted by onshi at 8:43 AM on August 7, 2013

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