Help me stop the iTunes seziures on Windows XP.
November 15, 2006 3:59 PM   Subscribe

iTunes 7.X on my Windows box has seizures during the last several seconds of a song. My search fu has failed me.

I have a moderate collection of music (18G) on my iTunes setup on Windows XP. During playback on some (but not all) songs, iTunes will lock up my machine for a few seconds during the last 5 seconds of a song. It's maddening.

I just stumbled across one song that has this seizure problem every five seconds for the entire last minute of the track (which is all silence). I have crossfade playback turned off. The track is not marked as part of a gapless album.

My boss has the exact same problem with his iTunes setup. Any idea how I can make the problem go away?

Apologies in advance for asking yet another iTunes question, and thanks in advance for any advice.
posted by chairface to Computers & Internet (16 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Do you have cross fading on? Is the music on your local hard drive or on some sort of networked disk?
posted by null terminated at 4:00 PM on November 15, 2006

Response by poster: No. I mention that actually. It was the first thing I tried. The music is on a local USB disk but it was the same problem when it was on the internal disk. USB should have plenty of bandwidth to stream mp3s.
posted by chairface at 4:12 PM on November 15, 2006

Doh, I should read questions more carefully.

How'bout automatically downloading album artwork? iTunes has notoriously bad internet connection handling.
posted by null terminated at 4:16 PM on November 15, 2006

Response by poster: I should probably describe these seizures in more detail.

The machine looks like it's locked up. The cursor won't respond. Everything locks up hard, for a few seconds. Then it frees up probably for about 1 second or so. On the long silence song I mentioned, this cycle repeats for the entire one minute of silence.

I've witnessed iTunes lousy album art download. Turing it off was a good suggestion but it didn't help.
posted by chairface at 4:20 PM on November 15, 2006

Heres a long shot, but have you defragged recently? Are your songs on a removable drive that may have gone to sleep?
posted by mphuie at 4:52 PM on November 15, 2006

Response by poster: Also good suggestions. The drive is a 30G partition in a 100G external USB drive. That partition only holds music and was recently built by moving my old music onto it so it shouldn't be fragmented much. XP's defrag tool confirms that I don't need to defrag (average fragments per file = 1.01, 16 out of 3,760 files fragmented).

I doubt is has anything to do with the drive going to sleep as it's steaming music the whole time. It is also unlikely that the drive would sleep then wake up repeatedly in a 5 second cycle. And, as I mentioned, the same problem happened when the music was on my internal drive which shouldn't be sleeping much.

It has something to do with the music itself. iTunes is doing something weird during silent bits and/or at the end of tracks. It might be analyzing it for gapless playback or trying to queue up the next track and analyzing that. I'm just not sure.
posted by chairface at 5:08 PM on November 15, 2006

It might help if you can figure out exactly what iTunes is doing during the lockup--turn on the Performance Monitor (under Control Panel->Administrative Tools, or just run "perfmon"). You can choose things to monitor from a big giant list of stuff (Right-click on the list of counters at the bottom and choose "Add counter"); try a bunch of things and see if any of them jump during the lockup.

A good first batch of things to monitor would be the things that you can see for iTunes specifically. In the "Add Counters" dialog, choose "Process" for the performance object, pick iTunes from the list on the right, and choose "All counters".

Are you using hyperthreading, or multiple cores? If so, a nonresponsive cursor is fairly unusual, but if not, then it's probably just a sign that there's a lot of something going on (CPU usage or paging, probably).
posted by equalpants at 5:15 PM on November 15, 2006

Response by poster: I have a single core machine, a 2.2G P4.

I added iTunes' counters to perfmon and got the strangest result. The seizures now lasted much longer (around 15 seconds) and perfmon failed to record any data during that time interval. It pops up a dialog about it too. This also happens if I don't have iTunes counters enabled. A quick look at the event log shows nothing of interest either.

I should probably post my System Information too:

OS Name Microsoft Windows XP Professional
Version 5.1.2600 Service Pack 2 Build 2600
OS Manufacturer Microsoft Corporation
System Name XXXXX
System Manufacturer Dell Computer Corporation
System Model Precision WorkStation 360
System Type X86-based PC
Processor x86 Family 15 Model 2 Stepping 7 GenuineIntel ~2261 Mhz
BIOS Version/Date Dell Computer Corporation A01, 4/28/2003
SMBIOS Version 2.3
Windows Directory C:\WINDOWS
System Directory C:\WINDOWS\system32
Boot Device \Device\HarddiskVolume2
Locale United States
Hardware Abstraction Layer Version = "5.1.2600.2180 (xpsp_sp2_rtm.040803-2158)"
User Name XXXXX
Time Zone Pacific Standard Time
Total Physical Memory 1,024.00 MB
Available Physical Memory 325.94 MB
Total Virtual Memory 2.00 GB
Available Virtual Memory 1.96 GB
Page File Space 2.41 GB
Page File C:\pagefile.sys
posted by chairface at 5:47 PM on November 15, 2006

Response by poster: Ah. I just noticed the task manager's display works during the seizure. It shows a 100% CPU load during the silent part.
posted by chairface at 5:50 PM on November 15, 2006

Response by poster: Oookay. I just found some possibly helpful weirdness. If I seek into the silence and start playing, everything is fine. It's only a problem when it transitions from music into silence.

FWIW, Sound Check is disabled. I also tried, as a wild guess, changing my streaming buffer size to large which made no difference either.
posted by chairface at 5:56 PM on November 15, 2006

Wow, that's pretty weird. Only thing I can think of is to turn off EQ and see if that does anything. It's obviously a terrible bug, of course; I think your only chance is that it might be in something that you can turn off.

(Apparently people have been having trouble with the Windows iTunes for a long long time--that link is from 3 years ago but people are still posting new complaints.)
posted by equalpants at 8:21 PM on November 15, 2006

Happens to my Windows box also. Strange and annoying.
posted by NationalKato at 8:37 AM on November 16, 2006

Argh! Same thing happens to me, except it's the very last second. Argh.
posted by divabat at 3:05 AM on November 17, 2006

By an odd coincidence, Raymond Chen's blog entry for today is about nonresponsive cursors. I wouldn't be surprised if Apple was misusing the low-level mouse hooks he mentions. (Not that that's any help fixing it, unfortunately!)
posted by equalpants at 11:09 AM on November 17, 2006

Response by poster: I don't know enough about low level windows to know if that's the problem or not. It's clearly related to silent passages so I'm not sure why iTunes would be extra interested in mouse movements at that time. It looks to me like they're tripping a bug in the audio driver/hardware otherwise it's hard to explain why it only happens on some machines.

I doubt they will ever fix it but I did start a thread at Apple's iTunes forum.
posted by chairface at 11:43 AM on November 17, 2006

Yeah, I guess it's likely to be somehow driver-related; the mouse thing is just a possible explanation for the frozen cursor and the weird perfmon behavior.

The way a mouse hook could screw things up would be if they were doing something in the hook that could potentially take a long time (which you're not supposed to do). For example, if the hook was trying to communicate with some other part of the program--which was screwed up because of some bug with the silence--and getting stuck waiting for it. But of course the actual bug would be somewhere else.

Good luck with the forum; I hope you can get it fixed. (It sounds terribly annoying!)
posted by equalpants at 12:15 PM on November 17, 2006

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