Friday, September 2, 2011

iTunes transfer

One of the "joys" of getting a new computer is re-installing a lot of software and transferring a lot of data from the old computer to the new. This has gotten easier in the age of digital distribution, for example I only had to install Steam on the new computer and log into my account to have access to all the games I ever bought on Steam. The problems started when I tried the same with iTunes. As my iTunes library consists only of songs I bought on the iTunes store, I expected to have access to them on the new computer. Especially since the iTunes help specifically tells me that I'll have access to all my purchased songs and offers a detailed guide on how to download the old purchased songs to the new computer. Only problem: It didn't work at all. Following the instructions I soon ended on a screen where the screenshot of the help file showed a button to press, but that button simply wasn't there.

After several tries, browsing through the iTunes help files and the online support, I finally mailed Apple support. Who answered me within a few hours, which I consider good service. But the answer was that in fact their system does not at all work as described in the help files, unless you live in the USA. The download purchased songs functionality is part of a service called iCloud, which is only offered in the USA for various copyright and license reasons. Okay, I understand that. But then why don't they write that in their help files??? Nothing is more annoying than having a detailed guide on how to do something, only to find that it doesn't work.

I ended up going for the more complicated Plan B: Setting up a home network between my old Vista computer and the new Windows 7 computer, setting the iTunes on both computers to sharing mode (which isn't easy because again the iTunes help files contain lots of errors, obviously having been written for an earlier version of iTunes), and importing the shared library from the old computer to the new computer. So now I do have all my songs on the new computer. But I find the inaccuracies of the iTunes help files really annoying. Misleading help is worse than no help at all. And if your software works differently in different regions of the world, that fact needs to documented in the help too.

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