Author Topic: File storage questions  (Read 3176 times)

woody

  • Guest
I'm a newbie and being an old fart I posses limited tech savvy so thanks for your patience. My music files are a mess. I've got ripped music, purchased MP3s, and downloaded MP4s converted to MP3s. Plus I've got  music files assimilated from three different hard drives so no doubt I have many duplicate music files.

I use Windows 7 and would like a better understanding of how "My Music" saves music files. What is the storage architecture? Are any and all music files saved in one master place and then specific manager programs like MusicBee, MediaMonkey, WinAmp, or iTunes access these master music files? Or, do specific music managers store music files inside their proprietary program where only that program can access that specific file?

Thanks for your response.

hiccup

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 5874
Whilst terms such as "My Music", "My Documents", "My Pictures" Windows uses (and sort of forces it on to it's users) can be very handy, it is also one of the least understood features for many less savvy Windows users.
Often after explaining it as good as possible, more than once , many Windows users will just not get the concept of it.

But you came to the right place ;-)

You should see those items as only names for a virtual library.
By default they will refer to (at least) one folder on your computer, to be found on your C: drive under a folder named after your username. (always try to remember that your windows computer is basically all about files, folders and their locations)
You can have several folders containing similar content at different locations or drives, and bring them together in that virtual "My Music" library.

Then the advantage of that is when you open "My Music", you will see all your music that resides in all the folders combined on your computer that have been added to your "My music" library.

The drawback of that is that from there, it is far from obvious where all those files are located on your computer.
That is the part that makes this concept very difficult for many to grasp, and leads to much confusion and even errors.

For your specific quest, for now my advice is to completely forget about this "My Music" stuff, and try to find and organize your music files in folders and locations of your choice. Preferably bringing all that together in one main folder, and working with sub folders from there.

When doing that, you will probably run into the issue of duplicate files.
That is another topic, for which you can surely find advice when you search the internet or this forum.

And: Be sure to have back-ups of your important files before you start working on this!
Last Edit: December 08, 2015, 04:58:05 PM by hiccup

psychoadept

  • Global Moderator
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 10617
I concur with hiccup.

If you're not sure where on the drive your music is stored, I suggest this process:

1. Scan your whole drive (or at least your whole user folder) using "Scan Folders for New Files" command - with Add to Inbox selected.
2. From your Inbox, add Path as one of the displayed fields, and sort by that.  That should allow you to quickly identify and remove files which are associated with programs or windows features.  Remove those from your library (not the hard drive).
3. Run the duplicates manager tool to see if you can identify duplicates easily that way.  I suggest using the playlist option to compare the duplicates.  you can add fields to the main panel to easily compare properties like bitrate.  Delete the ones you don't want (from the hard drive), and add the ones you do want to your library.  You can get rid of the playlist when you're done.
4. If there are duplicates that aren't caught by the duplicate manager, you may need to update tags using the auto-tag function, or even manually if the existing tags aren't good enough to identify the track.  The duplicate manager only works if it can match tags between files.
5. Of course add any non-duplicate files that you want to keep to your library.
6. Once you're happy with what's left in your library (Music, not Inbox), you can use the Organize Files command on your library (or turn on auto-organize) to have MusicBee pull all the files together in one location with a consistent organization structure.
MusicBee Wiki
Use & improve MusicBee's documentation!

Latest beta patch (3.5)
(Unzip and overwrite existing program files)

woody

  • Guest
OK. I understand W7's "My Music" is a virtual file which assimilates music.xyz files from all over any hard drive my computer recognizes. Could be files from different drives and multiple folders.

Best to forget W7 "My Music" and create a single music storage folder with sub-folders as desired.

Once created, use MusicBee "TOOLS" to clean up new folder.

Still not clear on this: do music manager programs...like MusicBee... alter the original  music.xyz file in any way, shape, or form into a proprietary file so only that specific program can access the original music.xyz file?

For example: I create a new music storage folder with many sub-folders and I choose MusicBee to manage it. Down the road, I delete MusicBee and download another music manager. Will the new music manager recognize and play all the original music.xyz files?     

psychoadept

  • Global Moderator
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 10617
Still not clear on this: do music manager programs...like MusicBee... alter the original  music.xyz file in any way, shape, or form into a proprietary file so only that specific program can access the original music.xyz file?

No. Some files you purchase may be designed to only work with a particular player (mostly Apple's proprietary formats, though they're less problematic now), but no player that I know of would change the format of a file without being told. That would require reencoding it, which usually reduces the audio quality.  If you have mp3s, they'll work with just about any player.  Other formats just depend on whether that specific player supports it (FLAC, for instance, is not universally supported).
MusicBee Wiki
Use & improve MusicBee's documentation!

Latest beta patch (3.5)
(Unzip and overwrite existing program files)

hiccup

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 5874
Still not clear on this: do music manager programs...like MusicBee... alter the original  music.xyz file in any way, shape, or form into a proprietary file so only that specific program can access the original music.xyz file?

Yes and no.

Music players/managers such as MusicBee use and rely on metadata which is contained in the music file itself.
Thanks to that, the naming of the file is practically irrelevant, and all information (metadata) about that song are read and written as tags inside the file. A tag for the title of the song, the artist, the year, album art, lyrics, etc. etc. Anything you want, you can add.
So if you change tags for that song, yes the file gets altered, but only the metadata, and it will play again on anything that played it before.
With MusicBee you can even set to have MusicBee remember those tags per track and store them in MusicBee itself instead of in the files, so then the files are not changed at all. But then all your tags will only work in that installation of MusicBee.

woody

  • Guest
AOK...thanks everyone. Certainly have a better understanding now of how things work. Working on moving files to master folder with sub folders...hope I can live long enough to clean this mess up!

woody

  • Guest
Had to park my file clean-up project. Now I've consolidated all my music files from all over the place into a single folder and created a sub-folder for each artist...a lot of work.

After, I used the FILE>Rescan/add files process and thought I'd be  AOK.

Well, now my previous playlists have huge "holes" with missing songs. The MusicBee Title column on the right side shows the file in the playlists but it starts with the blue exclamation mark and the file name shows in grayscale instead of in bold. Its like the FILE>Rescan/add files process did not pick up the new file locations.

So, how do I "repopulate" the  playlist to eliminate the missing songs? Or do I have to delete the old playlists and rebuild?

psychoadept

  • Global Moderator
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 10617
It sounds like you moved the files outside of mb. As long as the file names are the same, you can use Remap Music Folders (in the file menu) to adjust the file paths.
MusicBee Wiki
Use & improve MusicBee's documentation!

Latest beta patch (3.5)
(Unzip and overwrite existing program files)

woody

  • Guest
Thanks guys for your help...things are back in place.