Brought to you by Windows Media Player 11 (WMP).
I started trying to rip some CD's I recently purchased. When I put the CD in, it was labeled as "Unknown Album". If I right-clicked on the blank CD album art, I had the option of "Find Album Info". I tried this option out and it worked as expected...it found the correct album. Clicking "Finish" adds all the album information to the CD....except my CD information stayed blank.
I tried doing this using my guest account and it worked right: I inserted the CD and it immediately had the right song names, album name, artist, album art, etc.
I couldn't find any help online. I did find a solution when I was trying to find where WMP was attempting to store the CD information. I found (on Vista) that WMP stores information in C:\Users\USERNAME\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Media Player. I moved this folder to "Media Player.old" and tried again and everything worked as expected.
WMP does a great job of getting CD information. It also has the same feature for files in your music library. In WMP, if you right-click on an album in your music library, you have the option to "Find Album Info." Even though the album had all the information correct that I care about, I thought it would be interesting to see if it filled in all the missing pieces.
It asked me how I wanted to search, so I gave it the artist name ".38 Special."
Next it gave me a list of albums by .38 Special and I picked the correct one. The final screen shows you all the details of the album it found. Just click "Finish" and your information will be up to date...right?
WRONG! DON'T PRESS "FINISH"!!!
If you do, WMP will start searching your music library for music files that are about the right size to match the music file sizes for the songs on the album (Special Forces). I actually only had one song from that album (which it found correctly), but after I was done I had 6 other songs. It took a few Bee Gees songs, a Banannarama song, a .38 Special song from another album, and a Father MC song and relabeled them as songs from "Special Forces." It changed...
- File name was changed from the correct "artist-song" format to a combination of "38 Special" and an incorrect 38 Special song
- File location...moved the files from their correct "artist/album" folder to the "38 Special/Special Forces" folder
- File information...artist, album, song name, etc. were all overwritten with the wrong info
I can understand software getting this wrong, it is not a perfect science. But *if* there is a chance it is going to do the wrong thing, shouldn't it show me it's proposed changes and allow me to decide if I want my beloved music collection mutilated?!?!?!?!?!
Also, I figured it would limit its search to just the album folder that I did "Find Album Info" for, but it looks like my entire music collection was fair game. That is scary! Getting those songs labeled correctly took a lot of time...but just a fraction of a second for WMP to turn it to garbage.
Luckily, I have my system backed up and I just deleted the bad files and restored them from the backup. I use Vista's excellent "Backup and Restore Center" and an external hard drive to back up changes to my system daily.
So everything is back to normal...or so I thought.
I had my Bee Gees folder open to verify the files were replaced correctly by the restore. I went on to doing something else when I noticed one by one the Bee Gees songs disappeared! Where did they go?
They went right back in the "38 Special/Special Forces" folder...and all their information was again changed back to a 38 Special information.
WTF? How did that happen?
It turns out that WMP stores the album information it used to update files...in case a file needs to be "fixed" again.
To get WMP to stop changing file names, locations, and song information, I had to disable a few options. These are the options to *avoid*:
- "Overwrite all media information"
- "Rename music files using rip music settings"
- "Rearrange music in rip music folder, using rip music settings"
I figured I was safe, since I used "Only add missing information" with #2 and #3 (I never had #1 on). But I definitely had my information overwritten even though #1 was off!
I'm not sure if it is necessary, but I'd recommend deleting the WMP data folder (C:\Users\USERNAME\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Media Player) if you ever use "Find Album Info" or "Update Album Info" so it won't even think about renaming your files ever again.
After disabling those options, erasing WMP's memory, and restoring my old music files again...all is well.