Transferring Data by iPod
Until the release of iTunes 7, you needed software like SciFiHiHi's PodWorks to recover music from an iPod. PodWorks allows you to copy music and video from your iPod's library onto other computers. This can be very handy when your computer has died and your iPod has not. With PodWorks, you can browse the library of any iPod connected to your Mac and choose which songs you wanted to copy to your hard drive.
Enter iTunes 7. With the new File -> Transfer Purchases option, you can buy on one computer, sync your iPod, and then transfer that purchase from the iPod to another computer. In the end, both of your computers (and your iPod) have copies of your media and you've created an instant (and easy) backup system.
In addition to the manual Transfer Purchases command, iTunes 7 now detects whenever you sync an iPod that contains purchases not found in your iTunes library (Figure 4). It prompts you to decide whether you want to transfer those items into your iTunes library. By clicking Transfer, you begin the process (Figure 5) of copying those files.
Figure 4: iTunes 7 automatically detects purchases on your iPod that are not present in your computer's iTunes library.
Figure 5: When you Transfer Purchases, iTunes copies the purchased files from your iPod to your computer, providing a progress monitor. Depending on the scope of these new files and the quality of your USB or FireWire connection, it may take some time for the transfer to complete.
Unlike the new options that allow you to choose which files to sync from your computer to your iPod, the purchase transfer process has no user controls. All "new" purchases found on the iPod are copied to your computer.
Be aware that the transfer process can fail (Figure 6). When attempting to copy from your iPod to your disk, you may encounter errors. I did during a couple of transfer attempts. Using third-party software like PodWorks may help you get around these problems, especially as these new features grow and mature.
Figure 6: Don't depend on the new iTunes 7 purchase transfer feature to work consistently.
Equipment and Data Loss
Bad stuff happens. Fire. Theft. Diet Red Bull spills. Hyperactive children. And sometimes we're just not as good at backing up our data as we should be, even if iTunes 7 makes backups much easier. Yes, you should have been doing those backups. But you're human. And Apple understands--at least as well as any heartless, multinational for-profit conglomerate can understand.
When disaster strikes, Apple has a policy of a one-time-per-lifetime data intervention. (Apple does not otherwise offer purchase-loss protection.) In the case of the catastrophic loss of one's entire iTunes library, Apple will step in and allow you to re-download your entire purchase history as it did for blogger Wil Wheaton. You need to contact Apple directly and make your individual case.
This once-per-lifetime exception does not apply to media that you purchase that fails to be delivered (use Store -> Check for Purchases) or media that arrives corrupted. (Contact Apple Support and ask for a re-download.)
The introduction of iTunes 7 seems to have corrupted a small subset of people's existing purchases. For example, my Aquaman pilot no longer syncs to my iPod (Figure 7). In the case of corrupted files that you suspect went bad due to an iTunes upgrade, again contact Apple Support to request a re-download. Your request should not affect the once-per-lifetime-catastrophe eligibility.
Figure 7: iTunes 7 ate my Aquaman pilot.
Tip: To see an organized-by-date list of your prior purchases, choose Store -> View My Account, and then click Purchase History.