Most of my iTunes music subfolders are gone !!!

Discussion in 'Mac Apps and Mac App Store' started by Big Byte, Oct 14, 2009.

  1. Big Byte macrumors regular

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    #1
    I have an iBook G4 laptop connected to a 1G Time Capsule HDD, which I use to stream my iTunes Music to my laptop. I finished importing my CD collection a couple of months ago, and have been using iTunes DJ since then.

    Today I noticed that the iTunes DJ would skip over a lot of the upcoming songs, and that all of those songs had an exclamation mark next to them. I consolidated the iTunes library, but the exclamation marks remained.

    I then went into the iTunes Music folder in the external HDD (my Time Capsule) and deleted an empty folder that I had never seen before named "Automatically Add to iTunes". I consolidated the library again, but the exclamation marks were still there. I then went back into the iTunes Music folder in my Time Capsule and noticed that 2/3 of my subfolders were gone!!!

    I think I've just lost about 2/3 of the subfolders in music and don't know what to do. Can anybody help? If it's any assistance, I noticed that, even though I am missing most of the subfolders in my iTunes Music folder, the size of the folder hasn't changed. Thanks.
     
  2. sneakyzeal macrumors member

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    #2
    Do you have the "Keep iTunes Music Folder organised" option checked? What about the "Copy files to iTunes Music Folder when adding to library" option? These can be found in the "Advanced" tab in Preferences.

    Sounds like the files you're missing may have been saved to a location which is outside the iTunes Music folder.

    If you had the latter option above unchecked, importing those songs into iTunes would have only created a link to those song files rather than moving them into the iTunes Music folder.

    This link would result in the exclamation mark if those original files are subsequently deleted. Is there a chance this could be what happened?
     
  3. Big Byte thread starter macrumors regular

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    #3
    sneakyzeal, thanks for the swift response.

    Yes, I do have both options checked off. And all of my CDs were saved in subfolders (named by artists, by the way) in the iTunes Music folder on the laptop and then copied onto the HDD.

    After I ripped my CD collection I verified the number of albums and artists in iTunes on the laptop and the iTunes Music folder on the HDD. I even verified the first track of every album to make sure the path was correct. And I haven't added or deleted any albums from either iTunes or the iTunes Music folder since I ripped all my CDs. Any other suggestions?
     
  4. sneakyzeal macrumors member

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    #4
    By "checked off" do you mean "checked" or "off"? ;)

    The subfolders you refer to, I assume you mean they were in the iTunes Music Folder because you imported them into iTunes (rather than you moved them there yourself in Finder or Explorer)?

    How did you "copy them onto the HDD"?

    Disclaimer: I'm by no means an expert in iTunes - this is actually my first attempt at helping someone!
     
  5. balamw Moderator

    balamw

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    #5
    I'm going to suggest this gets moved to the iPod+iTunes forum as I'm sure this has happened to others. I had something similar happen when I moved my iTunes folder to a new machine, but what I ended up losing (temporarily) was mostly the old protected media from the iTunes Store and it was fairly easy to clean up and reconnect the dots once I had authorized the machine again.

    B
     
  6. Big Byte thread starter macrumors regular

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    #6
    Thanks again for replying sneakyzeal, and I did mean "checked" (sorry I missed the ambiguity).

    As to how did I "copy them onto the HDD"? To start, I'd import a CD onto my laptop and into iTunes. Once I had imported several dozen of them, I would consolidate my library after having set the path of the iTunes Media Folder Location in Advanced Preferences to the iTunes Music folder on the external HDD (my Time Capsule). It was a time consuming process (made more so by the fact that I learned the hard way that cutting and pasting, or dragging, in Finder doesn't work, and having to again import the CDs that I had deleted from my laptop to free up space).

    As I've said, everything was working fine once I finished importing my CDs. But now, even though the iTunes Music folder on the external HDD is not using any less space, it has seemingly erased over 2/3 of my music. Which makes me wonder whether or not the problem is with iTunes, my Time Capsule or me.
     
  7. balamw Moderator

    balamw

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    #7
    You did not answer my question. Where is the iTunes database located (usually ~/Music/iTunes Library) and was iTunes ever launched when the Time Capsule was not available. It sounds like the database is still on your internal HDD and the files are on the external.

    IMHO if all of your media is on the Time Capsule you should have the database there too. Doesn't stop you from having another one an using option click when you start iTunes to pick which database you are using. http://docs.info.apple.com/article.html?path=iTunesMac/8.0/en/15499.html

    B
     
  8. Big Byte thread starter macrumors regular

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    #8
    Thanks for your input, balamw. I'm not exactly sure of your terminology, but I'll try to explain my setup.

    The iTunes application is located on my laptop. When I import an album, it is stored on my laptop, after which I move it to the external HDD by consolidating the library. Once that is done, I verify that the external HDD has stored the album and then proceed to delete the album from my laptop in order to free up space. When I then open iTunes, I then select the location in Advanced Preferences. There have been times when I have opened iTunes without the external HDD connected and received the exclamation marks, but all I would have to do is consolidate the library again and everything worked fine.

    This time, however, not only did I receive the exclamation marks, 2/3 of the subfolders in the iTunes/Music folder on the external HDD were gone (even though the folder is the same size as before). Nothing has changed (other than the exclamation marks still remaining) in iTunes on my laptop. Another weird thing is that I am still able to play songs from albums that have seemingly disappeared from the external HDD.

    I hope this helps, but if not, could you please explain to me what you mean by "database"? Thanks.
     
  9. plinden macrumors 68040

    plinden

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    #9
    It looks like you have iTunes 9 ... "Automatically Add to iTunes" is added by iTunes so you or third party apps can easily add items to iTunes. It'll just be re-added by iTunes.

    Anyway, that's not really relevant ... but did you do the File -> Library -> Organize Library option? If so that'll reorganize your library by moving album-specific folders down a level into a Music subfolder. Check if your albums are there.

    Doing this reorganization could leave many folders remaining in the upper level if they contain non-music items or tracks that for some reason iTunes can't organize, so it'll look like most albums are gone.

    As for the exclamation marks, you may have had some coincidental screw up somewhere that caused iTunes to lose track of these items. Perhaps the database is looking at pre-reorganization locations. First check the new Music subfolder (if it exists). If your albums are there, you can reimport them.

    Check the contents of the remaining album-folders in the iTunes Music folder ... I'm almost certain there'll be old album art or other non-music related files there.
     
  10. balamw Moderator

    balamw

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    #10
    iTunes is essentially a database application and it keeps all of its information in a file usually located in /users/<username>/Music/iTunes/iTunes Library where <username> is your short username. "~" is shorthand for "/users/<username>". This location is independent of the iTunes Media Folder setting in preferences.

    You can select different iTunes Library files (a.k.a. databases, they use the *.itl extension on Windows) at startup by holding down option.

    When iTunes tries to play content that is not currently available, either because it is on a drive that is not available (or in my case not authorized to play) it will flag it with an exclamation point. When you try to play it again once the exclamation point is there, it will ask you "where is the file? Point me to it again please." and it does not usually seem to "reconnect" automatically. So, you may need to reconnect each one manually.

    To avoid this you may want to make sure that your "iTunes Library" file is on the same drive as your media. Shut down iTunes. Find the iTunes Library file. Copy it over to your Time Capsule. Hold down "option" and open iTunes. It'll prompt you to find your iTunes Library file. Navigate to the Time Capsule and open the Library file you created.

    Now, if you try to open iTunes when not connected of your TC it will prompt you for a different Library to open, but when you are home again you can point it to the right place.

    I can't guarantee that this is the source of your problem, but it reduces further risk down the line for you.

    I still think this is why Apple should compete with HP's MediaSmart servers on the home server front.

    B
     
  11. sneakyzeal macrumors member

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    New Zealand
    #11
    Was thinking about this overnight and starting heading along the lines of the other posts in this thread - think it might be related to the fact that it sounds like you've recently upgraded to iTunes 9 (having found that unknown folder called "Automatically Add to iTunes" and deleting it).

    I was reading an article just yesterday which, while quite long, has a really good explanation of how iTunes works with regards to how the database and the content interact with each other (and the corresponding file structure), plus how the various tools within iTunes (related to these, like Consolidate Library) are intended to work. It explains the concepts that plinden and balamw are talking about very well.

    Have a read if you have time - hopefully it might shed light on something you hadn't considered.

    http://www.ilounge.com/index.php/articles/comments/moving-your-itunes-library-to-a-new-hard-drive/

    I admit I'm getting well out of my league here, but my final suggestion (if you haven't already tried it) would be to do a spotlight search of your entire machine and time capsule? Or try Time Machine if you have that set up? May help you locate the missing songs.

    Good luck! Let us know how you get on :)
     
  12. Big Byte thread starter macrumors regular

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    #12
    Thanks again, sneakyzeal, I'll take a look at the article tonight and see if it helps.

    I just want to note again that nothing has changed in my iTunes (i.e. it looks the same every time I open the application), but that most of my subfolders (containing artists and their albums) in my Time Capsule where the music is stored have disappeared. Yet, the iTunes Music folder in my Time Capsule is the same size as before the subfolders disappeared!
     
  13. sneakyzeal macrumors member

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    #13
    I don't have a mac (unfortunately) but is there any possibility the files on the Time Capsule could be 'hidden' somehow? If the size is the same..
     
  14. Big Byte thread starter macrumors regular

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    #14
    That's what I was thinking. I went through most of the remaining subfolders last night, but didn't see any of the missing ones imbedded in them. I'll search the other subfolders tonight, but, other than those, I also searched all of the the other folders in Time Capsule (which weren't many as only my Music folder is stored there and it only has the iTunes folder and an empty Garage Band folder). I'm beginning to think that this may be a Time Capsule, and not an iTunes, issue.
     
  15. balamw Moderator

    balamw

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    #15
    Part of the problem is you are thinking folders and subfolders where iTunes just doesn't care. The article sneakyzeal linked is a good one, and it explains things far better than I.

    What you see when you open iTunes is the contents of the itl iTunes Library database. Each database entry contains a path to the file that it is associated with. When there is no item found at that location, iTunes will put an exclamation point by the item. However, the Library size that is displayed is that calculated from the sizes stored in the library not the size of the items on disk.

    You say that nothing has changed, yet you also say you now have yellow exclamation points. The yellow exclamation points are a change, aren't they? :p If you get an exclamation point the file was unavailable when iTunes tried to open it. Either the file has moved, been renamed or worst case deleted. The Spotlight search suggestion is also a good one and one I used when trying to diagnose my own yellow exclamation point problem.

    I'll stand by my suggestion. Get the iTunes Library (database) and iTunes Media Folder (content) on the same physical volume (hard drive) for best results.

    Aside: Here's another wish list item for Apple besides the home media server. Make the iTunes Library a bundle like the iPhoto Library. This way folks that will let iTunes do the work for them will not see folder and subfolders just a bundle called iTunes Library.

    EDIT:

    Simple question. What is the size of the library as reported by iTunes and what is the size of your iTunes folder on your Time Capsule? And please don't say they haven't changed. Give me numbers! And, have you looked in the Trash?

    B
     
  16. Big Byte thread starter macrumors regular

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    #16
    I appreciate your help, balamw, and I'll try to answer your questions as best as I can.

    The size of my iTunes folder in my Time Capsule is about 128GB (the Time Capsule is at home at the moment and I'm just going by my memory from last night). When I open iTunes now in my laptop, the bottom says "453 albums, 15.4 days, 128.33GB (I assume that is where to look when you say the "size of the library as reported by iTunes).

    In all fairness, last night was not the first time I received the exclamation marks (this happened once before when I forgot to locate the iTunes Music library in Advance Preferences), but I was always able to remedy the situation by manually locating the songs on my Time Capsule. This time, my Time Capsule is not listing albums that I know where there yesterday. And, as I am the only one with access to my Time Capsule (which is also password protected), I sure no one else has used it.
     
  17. balamw Moderator

    balamw

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    #17
    Given that the sizes are at least similar there is hope that they are just in the wrong place and not gone.

    As sneakyzeal suggested, pick one of the missing items from iTunes and do a spotlight search for it and report back when you can.

    B
     
  18. Big Byte thread starter macrumors regular

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    #18
    I'll try that tonight when I get home. Thanks again.
     
  19. Big Byte thread starter macrumors regular

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    #19
    I'm trying to perform a spotlight search in the Time Capsule, but every time I start typing a search term, Finder changes the highlighted term from "Time Capsule" to "iBook G4". Is this normal? If so, Spotlight isn't finding anything.

    And, to more precisely answer balamw's earlier question, 128.43 GB of music in Time Capsule and 128.33 GB of music in iTunes.
     
  20. sneakyzeal macrumors member

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    #20
    Like I said, I don't have a mac myself so all I know is that spotlight -exists-, but not how it really works at all. Do you use TimeMachine?
     
  21. Big Byte thread starter macrumors regular

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    #21
    sneakyzeal, I use Time Machine, but I have never backed up my Music folder. After reading this thread http://forums.macrumors.com/showthread.php?t=630223, I'm beginning to think that I should have. I hope I can find my music. Knowing that I can still play songs that are seemingly gone makes me think I can.
     
  22. Big Byte thread starter macrumors regular

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    #22
    Well, I have managed to find the problem to the missing subfolders. It turns out that, at some point, Finder created a new folder in iTunes called Music and moved 2/3 of my subfolders into there. I just moved all of those subfolders up one level and everything is fine.

    Thanks everyone for your help, and if a moderator would like, please close this thread.
     
  23. sneakyzeal macrumors member

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    #23
    I don't know if you read the article I linked, but it sounds like it wasn't Finder that created the folder; iTunes 9 uses a new file structure to encapsulate the different forms of Media, ie Music, Podcasts etc. Upgrading to iTunes 9 would probably have moved the music into the folder you are talking about - I think moving the music out of it manually might cause you problems..

    But if you're happy, it's up to you whether you want to take it any further. Regardless, glad you were able to find your music :)
     
  24. Big Byte thread starter macrumors regular

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    #24
    Do you think I should move every subfolder into this new folder that was created by iTunes?
     
  25. balamw Moderator

    balamw

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    #25
    Unless you have a particular reason to want to know where your music is, let iTunes figure it out and let it put things where it wants to. Don't think about the folders. You can always use iTunes to find them by right clicking and selecting "Show in Finder".

    Those who are happiest with iTunes are the ones who let it do its thing or on the other side those who disable "Keep iTunes Media Folder Organized" and "Copy Files to iTunes Media Folder when adding to library" and do everything manually.

    If you decide you want iTunes to manage your library, resist the urge to do anything in Finder and let iTunes do it. From the article sneaky linked:

    I should warn you that that was my first step on the path back to Mac-dom. Letting iTunes manage my library led to my first iPod and later to my first Mac in over 15 years. Now we only have Macs at home.

    B
     

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