I originally started using iTunes on Windows many years ago when I started ripping my CDs. I didn’t use it because I had an iPod, I used it because I liked how it let me view my music by artist, album, or song. I enjoyed using iTunes despite its defects.
The UI that I liked has been gone for a long time, but the defects of iTunes remain.
The main defect of iTunes is it fails at the simple task of keeping track of what music I have. If I add music to my library in some way other than the iTunes store or ripping CDs in iTunes then iTunes doesn’t notice the new music. This might involve purchasing MP3s from Amazon, ripping CDs with a different program, or ripping CDs on a different computer and then copying the files to my machine. With any of these (legal, I might add) ways of acquiring music iTunes fails to notice the new music. I have to explicitly use the “Add Folder to Library…” option to get iTunes to find the new music.
But that’s not the worst of it. What is really a problem is when music gets deleted or moved. iTunes then has references to songs that no longer exist, and I’m not aware of any practical way to remove these references. The articles I’ve found on this subject suggest manually deleting these dangling references, but on a collection with over 10,000 songs (29.7 days) this really doesn’t work. iTunes has hundreds (maybe thousands?) of references to non-existent songs, and I have no idea where they come from.
What’s worse is that iTunes seems to create dangling references out of thin air. I don’t know how else to explain some of the seemingly random references to music files that we haven’t had for years, references to AAC versions of MP3s, and other anomalies.
Windows Media Player gets it right
If I add music to my collection WMP notices. If I remove music from my collection WMP figures it out. WMP always has an accurate list of my music. Period.
If I haven’t run WMP for a while then the first thing it does when launched is to update its list of my music. So that it always has an accurate list of my music.
Another user is running iTunes
And really? iTunes seems to have missed out on the multi-user part of the computer revolution:
Why should I care if my daughter has iTunes open? And how am I supposed to shut it down if she has a password? There is no reason why two users shouldn’t be able to run iTunes separately. As you might expect, Windows Media Player, and every other music program I have tried, can be run by two users simultaneously without difficulty.
This problem literally means that we sometimes cannot play music without waiting for our daughter to come home, or forcibly rebooting the computer while she is logged on. To call this ‘lame’ is to harm the reputation of other things which I have called lame.
Stuck with iTunes for now
We bought a couple of iPods, and one of them is stubbornly continuing to work, so I can’t just uninstall iTunes – tempting as it is.
Any solutions out there?
Does anybody else hit this problem? Are we doing something weird that is triggering this bad behavior? Maybe iTunes really doesn’t like being used from multiple accounts with most of the music in the Public Music folder. I don’t know.
What I really want (given that Apple shows no interest in fixing this) is an iTunes add-on that will go through and remove all references to non-existent songs. If I could run that occasionally then the problem would be tolerable.
Any pointers? Anybody written iTunes plugins of this type? Surely I can’t be the only one who has a large collection of music that iTunes can’t seem to handle correctly.
So, problem solved.
Bad software, hacked around
To be clear, I still think that this is a serious and inexcusable bug in iTunes. It’s been around for many years and Apple’s lack of interest in fixing it (it’s really not that hard) suggests a serious lack of attention to quality, especially since the bug happens both on Macintosh and Windows.