Aside from serving as a harsh lesson that investing in an external hard drive and using Time Machine is actually a darn good idea, this kind of disaster can also cause you to curse Apple for not building an iPod-to-computer backup feature into iTunes. It’s a frustrating reality, but since their stance will never change it’s best to focus on other ways to handle this issue. Well, that’s only semi-accurate. They do allow you to transfer content purchased from the iTunes Store back to a computer. This can be accomplished by going to File > “Transfer Purchases from…” in the menu bar when the device is connected to iTunes.
Since the large majority of users’ libraries are obtained from other (legal and illegal) sources, however, this limited functionality will only get you so far. That’s where the excellent 3rd party developer community for the Mac platform comes in. There are a bunch of tools – some free, most relatively cheap – which allow you to copy just about everything on your iPod or iPhone to a Mac computer. This article will briefly feature seven of the best currently available. If anyone knows of others that they feel should be included, please share in the comments!
Boasting over 5 million downloads, iPodRip has been around for a while and does a pretty good job of backing up media from an iPod or iPhone. One of the older versions of this program saved me a few years ago, so I can attest to its effectiveness.
Developer: The Little App Factory
Price: $19.95 (free trial available)
Version 1.2.5 compatible with Mac OS X 10.4 and 10.5
The tagline used to promote this application is “Works like iTunes, but it’s everything in reverse.” While it’s not an exact clone, it sure is close enough to be familiar and easy to use to any iTunes user.
Price: $18 (free trial available)
Version 0.50.6 compatible with Mac OS X 10.4 and 10.5
In addition to standard music and video recovery, TouchCopy also bundles a few other features that set it apart from other programs. For example, it enables data storage (known as “disk use” on other iPods) on the iPod touch and iPhone. Copying notes, contacts, calendars, and voice memos is supported as well.
Developer: Wide Angle Software
Price: $24.99 (free trial available)
Version 2009 compatible with Mac OS X 10.4 and 10.5
It may not be as polished as other similar pieces of software, but Expod has two things going for it: It’s free and it works. One of the cool things it does is allow you to use whatever file naming format you’d like for the media you extract (ex. “Artist-SongTitle.mp3″ or “TrackNumber-Album-SongTitle.mp3″).
Developer: Steve Joynt
Version 0.5 compatible with Mac OS X 10.4 and 10.5
5. Pod to Mac
Even though this is a new application which is still in beta, it’s got potential. Regular updates are still being made and a final release is almost ready to go, according to the developer.
Developer: myPod Apps
Version Beta 10 compatible with Mac OS X 10.5
6. iPod Access
Already on its fourth major version, iPod Access is a mature and mostly reliable program for backing up an iPod’s music and videos to a Mac. With an easy to use interface and an instant search feature, it gets the job done.
Developer: Findley Designs
Price: $19.99 (free trial available)
Version 4.2.4 compatible with Mac OS X 10.3, 10.4, and 10.5
It’s the most expensive program on the list and it may or may not be worth the money depending on your specific needs. The latest version backs up music, videos, photos, and even lets you turn your iPhone into a portable hard drive with Finder access. That last part alone will intrigue some people enough to take the free trial for a spin.
Price: $29.95 (free trial available)
Version 2.0.52.0508 compatible with Mac OS X 10.4 and 10.5