The Simplest Fix for ‘iTunes cannot read the contents of the iPod’

Over the last two hours I’ve been trying to get my 5th Gen iPod Nano to sync with Apple iTunes on my 2009 model MacBook Pro, but all I got was the dreaded error message ‘iTunes cannot read the contents of the iPod’. iTunes tells me to restore, but as the iPod won’t appears under the Devices section, I can’t actually perform a restore.

Googling for this error message turned up numerous sites with different methods to fix this issue – they ranged from doing hard resets to hooking your iPod Nano to a Windows box (but requires your iPod to be in hard drive mode). None of these worked for me.

After two hours – I discovered the problem ….. make sure that your iPod isn’t plugged into an unpowered USB hub!

I eventually still had to do a restore since by then, I had well and truly corrupted my iPod drive with all the various previous attempts at fixing the problem. However the ipod was now appearing under devices in iTunes and the restore was quick and painless. Hopefully your problem ends up being as simple to fix as mine …

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35 Comments on "The Simplest Fix for ‘iTunes cannot read the contents of the iPod’"

  1. Shannon
    18/01/2010 at 6:13 am Permalink

    Hey, I am dealing with EXACTLY the same problem – same computer and iPod as well. Except for me, a reset is not possible, as my only back up for my music is on a hard drive in New Zealand (and I am in Canada O_o). So a restore is out of the question. Any awesome suggestions?
    Also, what do you mean by an unpowered USB hub? You mean, whether your computer is plugged in or not effects the outcome? Because I’ve tried both on battery and plugged in…?
    Cheers,
    Shannon

  2. Harold B
    24/04/2010 at 1:47 am Permalink

    Found an easier way! just download and install i-funbox http://i-funbox.com/ Connect your iPhone, Go and find “iTunesDB” using i-funbox and delete it, Open iTunes on your PC\Mac and Walla!!! You’re back to Syncing and no more Messages! Enjoy

  3. Dale
    22/10/2010 at 4:57 am Permalink

    harold B, I have seen this comment in several forums, but no answers, I tried it and it did not work. Is this a serious fix, or something else??

  4. Coco
    27/12/2010 at 2:12 pm Permalink

    I had this same problem and searched high and low with no avail. I did everything, the reseted and restores and while the ipod synced afterwards, the next time the problem resurfaced. I nearly pulled my hair out! the only solutions I could find were to use i-funbox, but my ipod isnt jailbroken so that wasnt an option. Eventually I did the most simple thing I could have done in the beginning, and that was to close itunes (but not uninstall) and download it again (i already had the latest version so i assume there was a corrupt file somewhere) and reinstall it, using the repair option upon attempting to reinstall. Working perfectly know so can only hope the problem doesnt come back. I’m surprised so many people have this problem, but thereis not one solution on the apple website or even a mention of anything related to the problem, they should really get this sorted!

  5. Mike's Road Trip
    09/02/2011 at 7:53 am Permalink

    I too have had the same issue, mine is with an iPod Touch…both 3rd and 4th Generations. Apple replaced my 3rd, 3rd Gen with a 4th Generation and it worked my first couple of syncs, but now it won’t sync again. I have had a number of previous generation iPods and have never had this problem. It’s so frustrating and none of the fixes on the web or Apple forums seem to help in anyway.

    The search goes on…

  6. Ezra Duncan
    23/02/2011 at 9:20 am Permalink

    Hey Harold B

    You Were Spot On. Ive Got A Jail Broken Ipod Touch And I Had The Exact Same Problem Where Itunes Couldn’t Read The Ipod. I Tried Your Theory And It Worked. Thankyou Very Much

  7. Blaring Pixels
    24/02/2011 at 5:20 am Permalink

    After spending an hour trying to fix. Here is an ideal approach IMHO.

    1.) Unplug and replug the ipod. Change the USB port.
    2.) Reset the ipod (Menu + OK)
    3.) Restart the computer.
    4.) Reinstall the itunes. Do a repair instead of a fresh install.

    For me the first three didn’t work. Reinstalling iTunes + changing USB port solved the problem instantly.

    Hope that helps.

  8. Pinoy Ako
    15/03/2011 at 2:22 am Permalink

    Forget about all those fixes. Thanks to Blaring Pixels, I figured out where the issue is. It’s with iTunes, not really with your iPod. Just try to “repair” iTunes (no need to uninstall and reinstall) and you’re done.

    1. Go to control panel where you can uninstall a program.
    2. Click on iTunes from the list of programs. There should be a button on top of the page that says “Repair”. Just click it.

    Good luck! :D

  9. egg
    28/03/2011 at 4:06 am Permalink

    Harold B,

    Thank you soooo much!! I’ve been going round in circles for 3 days since iTunes mysteriously decided not to recognise my ipod anymore. Deleting this file worked. I used Iphone Explorer instead, but it did the job all the same. The file took some finding so for anyone looking for the file it’s located in Root Directory/user/media/iTunes_control

    VERY much appreciated :)

  10. JailBrokeIpodTouch
    01/04/2011 at 8:51 am Permalink

    Hey, i’m sure harold b’s method will work, but I tried Pinoy Ako’s method. Worked for me. Thanks

  11. Thames
    09/06/2011 at 5:39 pm Permalink

    Harold B’s solution was very simple but awesome. It worked for my iPod 4th. Thank you very much.

  12. Julie Ann
    12/06/2011 at 7:20 pm Permalink

    Pinoy Ako’s solution worked for me 1st time. A thousand thanks, I can stop panicking!

  13. Randy P
    18/07/2011 at 10:10 pm Permalink

    I followed up on “egg”‘s solution and it worked perfect! However, the file I found was ItunesCDB.

  14. jailbroken ipodtouch
    05/08/2011 at 10:01 pm Permalink

    i tried everything, repair itunes delete itunesdb, noting!!

  15. adam
    10/08/2011 at 1:13 am Permalink

    i tries everything but atlast this worked!
    Root Directory/user/media/iTunes_control/iTunes
    delete the iTunesCDB file! :D

  16. ace
    14/08/2011 at 10:57 am Permalink

    Tried Harold b’s idea, deleted the file, and nothing. With pinoy ako’s suggestion, I can’t find iTunes among the applications. SOMEONE HELP PLLZZZZ

  17. B.Playa
    01/09/2011 at 8:41 pm Permalink

    Will somebody PLEASE HELP me out before I go nuts!! Harold b, I tried to use your method but when I click on the iTunes folder in i-fun-box the whole program exits in a flash and leaves behind some random file which I cant open. I tried Coco’s method but my iPod is still not showing any of my music and videos. If I could sue Apple for this I would because they themselves don’t even know of such problem or have a damn solution. Grrrrrrr!!!!!!!! I’ve litteraly searched the entire internet for a solution and I’ve tried every one of them and none of them don’t work!! What the hell is up with technology these days!! This sucks Big time! *Pissed Off*

  18. jmanjones
    29/09/2011 at 7:51 am Permalink

    OK everyone I found what to do. I used iFile to delete iTunesDB and iTunesCDB. iTunes recognised my ipod like normal, BUT IT WON’T SHOW ANY OF MY MUSIC!!!

  19. Sarah
    27/10/2011 at 12:29 pm Permalink

    I tried Pinoy Ako’s solution, but it didn’t work. Message still pops up when I plugged my ipod back in. I’m really not sure what to do at this point. This isn’t my first ipod problem today. The first was that there was an error backing it up, so I couldn’t sync it completely, or install ios5. Then I tried it in my other computer which still has itunes installed and all my stuff, and it said it couldn’t read my ipod. So I came back to this computer, and now it says the same thing. I don’t know what to do!!! Can someone please help me?? This is the first time I’ve tried syncing my ipod to this new computer.

  20. adam
    07/11/2011 at 2:58 pm Permalink

    That’s it, I’m screwed. Hopeless. I’ve had this problem for months now, and now I’m running out of space on my iPod touch 2g. I’ve been downloading songs through MewSeek, and now I can’t delete them because stupid ITunes can’t read the contents of my iPod. I’ve tried everyone elses methods, still jack nothing. Unless there’s a way to delete songs directly off my iPod, I’m stuck with a completely full iPod with no space left. Someone please help.

  21. d.w.
    11/11/2011 at 12:11 am Permalink

    getting “itunes cannot read the contents of the ipod [ipod name]“? first close itunes. then search the ipod’s hard drive for “iTunesDB”. make a backup copy of iTunesDB and iTunesDB.old_mlpmp to your computer. now delete iTunesDB and rename iTunesDB.old_mlpmp to iTunesDB. now open itunes.

  22. qawasme
    30/01/2012 at 8:19 pm Permalink

    thnx u r awesome

  23. colorblind
    05/04/2012 at 5:28 am Permalink

    d.w. , Thank you so much! it worked!

  24. Charlotte
    09/04/2012 at 6:28 pm Permalink

    I had the same problem with an iPod touch 4g, and found that trying to sync it wirelessly over the wifi network didnt work as one of the USB ports on the plug that I use to charge it wasn’t working. I then plugged into my laptop after reading this article, and it worked! Although I have now discovered that two out of the three USB ports on my laptop don’t work either… Any suggestions?

  25. Chloe
    09/04/2012 at 7:43 pm Permalink

    I also find this, but update your itunes to the latest version, that sorted it completely for me.

  26. Franz
    16/08/2012 at 8:53 am Permalink

    Mewseek screwd up my phone I had my baby so perfect but I keeped looking for new tweaks, dowloaded this CRAPP ( MEWSEEK ) now I have one song on my iPhone that I can’t remove which compromise my iTunes. I tried everything possible.I deleted the mp3 with iFile but the file still exist on my iPod not the song.I deleted mewseek to no avail, iTunes does not recognize my phone no more, search YouTube for answers nothing googled for help still nothing that’s effective. I’m going NUTS don’t know what else to do I don’t want to restore my phone if any body can help me with a clear solution, I will be your best friend.

  27. Beta
    03/10/2012 at 12:38 am Permalink

    How can i find the rootdirectory/whatever/whatever/whatever file? Thanks in advanced.

  28. Carl
    07/10/2012 at 9:07 am Permalink

    Here’s my problem, for years I never had an issue with syncing my ipod. in April of 2011 I got a new laptop, my ipod still synced fine. Then, in July 2011 my cousin hooked her ipod up to my laptop to let it charge and suddenly, her ipod just got completely wiped out. I didn’t think anything of it, and plugged my ipod in to sync a week later and suddenly, MY ipod got wiped. In order to sync music, I had to reset the ipod, uninstall itunes, restart the computer, reinstall itunes, restart the computer, and then finally it would sync. I thought maybe once I got my new ipod (the ipod touch 4th gen) the problem would go away but it hasn’t. it still gives me the damn “can’t read the contents” of my ipod message and I have to repeat the process all over again. I discovered 2 of my 3 USB ports don’t really work (I tried moving my mouse USB to a different port, it doesn’t work) so it might be that, I’m not sure. I just know that this is a VERY frustrating issue and I’d like to be able to sync my ipod without problems.

  29. dingdong
    06/08/2013 at 11:59 pm Permalink

    what if you connect the ipod nano into pc
    they read other files
    but music files,photos,video is cannot read
    what should i do?

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  31. Norman Gawanab
    27/09/2013 at 4:46 am Permalink

    “iTunes cannot read the contents of the iPhone. Go to the summary tab in iPhone preferences and click restore to restore this iPhone to factory settings”.

    DO NOT RESTORE. DO NOT RESTORE. DO NOT RESTORE.

    It could be one of two (or both) files are corrupt on your iPhone (or other iDevice), they are iTunesDB and iTunesCDB.

    There is an easy and fast fix for this, even if your iDevice is NOT jailbroken.

    You want to disconnect your iDevice from your computer and close iTunes to ensure you DO NOT RESTORE.

    Download iFunBox, a Free Tool for accessing the iDevice filesystem. It has both a OS/X version and Windows version for download.

    After you download the version of iFunBox for your OS, you will need to install it and run it.

    After installing and running iFunBox, connect your iDevice to your computer.

    You will see a message in the Upper Right of iFunBox “connecting to iDevice”, after iFunbox has connected to your iDevice, click on the tab “iFunbox Classic”.

    On the left panel, expand “Raw File System” (click on the +), then expand “iTunes_Control”, then click on “iTunes”.

    In the right panel you will see a number of files, right-click on the file “iTunesCDB” and select rename, place an X after the B in the filename, this will allow you keep the file in case you need it again (you should never need it, but better to be careful than sorry.)

    After you have renamed the file, click on your iDevice name on the upper right of iFunBox and select “Device Safe Removal”, this will ensure the filename change will be written back to your iDevice.

    After you see your iDevice is closed (“No device connected” will be displayed in the upper right), you should now close iFunBox.

    Now run Apple iTunes, it will see your iDevice and you will be able to Sync again.

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