A few months ago the battery on my 5th generation 30 GB iPod started waning. Via Craigslist, I was able to sell it to someone who wanted an iPod they would permanently dock, so the battery wasn't an issue for them. I then bought a 6th generaion 80 GB iPod for just $20 more than what I was able to get for my old iPod.
That new (used) iPod came with 4,000+ songs on it, loaded by its previous owner, a 14-year old boy. His dad bought him an iPhone and handled the resale of the iPod. This kid has great, ecclectic taste in music and I've discovered lots of enjoyable artists through him, from M.I.A. to Regina Spektor to law professors talking about law concepts such as Mens Rea and Actus Rea.
Anyway, the new iPod was formatted for a Mac, so I needed to reformat it for Windows. That would erase all the contents on the iPod, so before I did that I dragged all those songs onto my external hard drive.
That worked for the most part, as I was able to drag them all back onto my iPod and successfully play them, but I was unable to play those songs in iTunes, or create Playlists or burn discs.
So, I was happy to see Walt Mossberg recommend a product back in January that specializes in copying the contents of an iPod back to a Windows computer. However, I wasn't keen on paying the $20 to a UK company. Last night I researched other programs that would do the same thing, and kept running into $25 charges. I was about to give up when I finally found the magic query combination in Google Search that brought me to the uber helpful CNET.com.
Turns out you can transfer all the contents of your iPod back onto a computer without any 3rd party utilities or $. Just follow these simple steps outlined on CNET. It's an article from 2006, so I'm so surprised this isn't more widely known, and that people like Walt Mossberg are recommending $20 utilities to accomplish what can be done with a few clicks of the mouse.