iTunes 7 Crashes and Freezes, or How to Ruin the User Experience

Apple gets a lot of credit for putting effort into the user experience. Many attribute the success of the original Mac, iPods, the iTunes Music Store, iBooks, and their other products to ease of use. But building a brand based on user experience can be much harder than, say, a brand based on low prices (like Dell) or ubiquity (like Microsoft). Because it doesn't take too much to go from "it just works" to "it doesn't work," which has been my experience with iTunes 7. The worst problem: it freezes up whenever I don't have an internet connection. For a long time, I used WinAmp as my MP3 player. As a nerdy web developer, I'm stuck at my computer for inordinate amounts of time, so I tend to listen to a lot of music through my SoundBlaster. By long time, I mean 1997 through a few years ago. I didn't have much of my collection ripped, so a static list of the 100-or-so songs I did have converted was fine. After ripping the majority of my CD library, and getting my wife an iPod, I started using iTunes. WinAmp has media library features, but I just liked iTunes better. Fast forward to 2006, when iTunes version 7 appears. It added some cool features, like album covers. It also was pretty buggy. Apple has released a few fixes so far, but now with even the latest version - iTunes 7.0.2 on Windows 2000 - I run into issues whenever my Internet connection goes down, or I have VPN up and running, blocking all traffic. It will start up and play like normal, but then after a few songs, the audio cuts off. Sometimes the track looks like it is continuing to play, others the time stops ticking off as well. Skipping to the next track results in more silence. When I finally close iTunes, it doesn't really close - I have to go into the Task Manager and manually end the process. I've done some Googling to see if there was a solution, but so far no luck. I found a blog post by Don Loper talking about freezing, but disabling automatic checking for podcasts did not resolve my issue. I tried disabling Audioscrobbler, a great plugin that uploads what you've been listening to to, and anything else that looked like it might be trying to send or receive data. Still no dice. Now, this is obviously not a huge problem, but when I'm dialing in to work from home, it would be nice to be able to listen to music. I can always dig up WinAmp, but I don't want to bother importing or recreating playlists. My solution so far has been to listen to NPR on my headphones. The risk that Apple runs with each release of iTunes is that bugs, even if they are fairly uncommon, can put the breaks on the flow of the user experience like Fred Flinstone jamming his feet through the floor of his stony, Neanderthal car. Which is why all the hype (and the 6 month lead time) around the iPhone could still blow up in their faces. My advice: test, test, test, and do it with actual users. Oh, and anyone have any ideas to fix my freezes that I haven't tried yet?

  1. Have you looked at ? I almost always find answers to my Apple problems there. Or at least I find out that other people are having the same problems and don’t know what to do either.

    January 17th, 2007 at 10:54 am
  2. iTunes is gay and I will never use it again. Why? Becuase when you buy songs they are protected files meaning you cannot convert them to regular mp3s from m4p and they only thing you can convert them to is audio wav files. So let me get this right, I pay $1 per song and then you tell me what players I can play those songs on, yeah right. This is why Apple sucks they have no compatability with other producers. This why PCs are so much better because they are much more customizable. Of course if you really want “i” infront of every gadget you own then I guess Apple is for you.

    D Wallz
    January 17th, 2007 at 12:05 pm
  3. I don’t buy songs from the iTunes store. I use it to listen to my music collection, most ripped from CDs plus a lot of downloads offered by bands and labels for free. I use it because it makes it easy to create playlists, sort and find songs, etc. in ways that are intuitive to me.

    The problem you alluded to, of paying for a song that you can’t play where ever you want, is hardly limited to iTunes. For example, you might have bought songs in WMA format from a Microsoft-backed PlaysForSure store, only to find out that Microsoft’s own Zune doesn’t support PlaysForSure.

    All DRM’ed music formats have these problems, and as far as I know all of them can eventually be converted back to MP3, though it takes a few steps (like burn to CD, convert back to MP3) and degrades the audio quality. I agree with the general point that this model is broken, inefficient, and unnecessary, but it’s not an Apple-only problem.

    January 17th, 2007 at 6:55 pm
  4. On my PC Itunes goes one step further and freezes my whole PC. No Keyboard or mouse response and a song stuck on one line playing over and over again. Nothing left to do but reach for the power button hit restart and lose whatever you were working on for the last four hours.
    And yet I continue to use it, because hell, finding something else is too much hard work!

    January 21st, 2007 at 11:25 am
  5. Not sure whether this is the same issue but I’m sharing a library from a NAS disk. Everything plays fine on the PC which “owns” the library, and has a wired connection to the router. However, on a second PC, connected wirelessly, and sharing the library, a large proportion of ripped tracks freeze iTunes and kill the wireless link. Been driving me crazy but today I cracked it. Simply convert the offending files to AAC and they play just fine. I don’t understand why the files should play on one PC and not another, but I’m glad to have a solution.

    March 18th, 2007 at 1:41 pm
  6. itunes freezes my pc as soon as it opens. it uses 99% of the prosseser making pc freeze but i press control, alt, and delete the click on itunes in the prosseses the close itunes that way, thats better than the reset button you dont lose anything. my ipod video play music ok but dont play movies or music videos any more and keep crashing then all i get is a bright apple on the screen.

    April 14th, 2007 at 7:29 pm
  7. Ive run into the same problem myself, I actually found this blogpost while trying to google solutions. my itunes freezes and does not respod after about a minute of being open. Im goign to try to uninstall and reinstall it to see if that works but as for now i have no solutions.

    June 21st, 2007 at 6:33 am
  8. i had the same problem with 7.3.2.

    I cut and pasted the itunes folder into a new location.

    Then itunes ran fine. You just have to go into preferences and tell it the new library default location, import the library, then re-sysnc.

    It worked great for my shuffle.

    tom p
    July 25th, 2007 at 11:48 am
  9. I ma having this problem and reverting back to version 6!

    Leefa Roe
    August 2nd, 2007 at 4:38 pm
  10. [...] she surprises me with an iPhone.  I check to make sure I have the latest version of iTunes and plug it in.  Then, nothing.  Well, not exactly nothing.  Windows tries to “add new [...]

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